Curtis Smith is the author of the story collections The Species Crown and the recently released Bad Monkey (both from Press 53). Last year Casperian Books published his second novel, Sound and Noise, and this spring, they'll put out his next, Truth Or Something Like It. Also next year, Sunnyoutside Press will release his essay collection, The Agnostic's Prayer. His stories and essays have appeared in over fifty literary journals and have been cited by The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Mystery Stories, and The Best American Spiritual Writing.
For our readers who may not be familiar with your work, what's the most accurate thing someone else has said about it?
In a blurb for my story collection The Species Crown, Jim Clark, the editor of The Greensboro Review said: "These are not tales to calm our jackrabbity hearts." I think that fits my work pretty well-most of my characters are on edge, unsure of themselves and their motivations. They're an anxious and nervous bunch.
What have you read/watched/listened to/looked at/ate recently that will permanently change our readers' lives for the better?
I watched the Anvil documentary last week. Perhaps I'd have trouble sitting through a concert, but those guys were awesome and incredibly inspiring. Through the hardest times, they believed in themselves and their art and their vision. That's pretty cool.
Whose ghostwritten celebrity tell-all (or novel) would you sprint to the store to buy (along with a copy of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius so that the checkout clerk doesn't look at you screwy)?
I'll go with a tell-all about either the Brat Pack's shenanigans or the mullet-wearing gang that was the 1993 Phillies.
Have you ever been a Starving Artist, and did it make you brilliant, or just hungry?
I never went the starving artist route: I've always had a day job. I've taught special learning at a public high school for 28 years. That pays the bills (sometimes barely, but they get paid).
What would you characterize as an ideal interaction with a reader?
Someone who finishes one of my books and thinks that someday they'd want to read another. I doubt there's any higher praise than that.
Have you ever written anything that you'd like to take back?
Outside old love letters, no. Mistakes are all part of the process of learning to ask the right questions. Anyway, that Ray Bradbury story about the guy traveling time and stepping on the butterfly has always freaked me out. I don't even think about messing with the past.