Brandi Homan • The Next Big Thing Interview

Last year, the North American Review Blog hosted several installments of The Next Big Thing Self-Interview Series, in which writers answer the same nine questions about their forthcoming books or works-in-progress.

When we posted NAR editor Vince Gotera's TNBT interview, he tagged Brandi Homan, but her TNBT interview has never appeared. Until now!

Brandi Homan is the author of two books, Bobcat Country and Hard Reds, from Shearsman Books and two chapbooks from dancing girl press. She is a cofounder, with Becca Klaver and Hanna Andrews, of the independent feminist press Switchback Books. Brandi’s prose has appeared recently in Booth, Prick of the Spindle, and Animal Literary Magazine. She holds an MFA from Columbia College Chicago and is a doctoral student at the University of Denver. Brandi enjoys playing roller derby with the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls, where she is Spike.

In the NAR’s Synecdoche review of her book Hard Reds from March 2008, Vince wrote, “Brandi Homan writes like the bastard daughter of Yusef Komunyakaa and Sylvia Plath.” Her poems exhibit “a stunning volatility of language. Read Hard Reds and you’ll breathe gas fumes and flames like ‘pure glissando, electric / meow.’ Hmm-hm.”

Brandi Homan photo

What is the working title of the book?

Strange Fish Something Fierce

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I had been trying to write about my experiences in Chicago for years but kept hitting walls. Then one day I gave up and decided to focus on physical places versus events. This led to a series of postcard texts that were written to an imaginary boyfriend—although I was dating someone seriously at the time—that got revised and recombined to eventually become Strange Fish.

What genre does your book fall under?

Hell if I know… No, actually, because I identified as a poet, when I was writing the text, I thought of it as poetry, but when I strung the postcards together and edited the manuscript, there was a loose narrative throughout. The first draft readers—one poet, one fiction writer—thought it was fiction. So now I think of it as prose—“innovative fiction” or “prose poetry,” whichever you like, really.  I’m struggling pretty hard now with genre definition—how it works and where my writing lies in any of it.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

God this was fun:

Noelle = Mia Wasikowska, in 3 or 4 years
Em = Emma Stone
Max = Joseph Gordon Levitt
The Boss = Peter Sarsgaard
He = James McAvoy
You = You
Jamesy = Matthew Gray Grubler
Narrator = Michelle Williams
J = Herself

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

I love-hate you, Chicago, and your little dog, too.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

This one came together much faster than my other books did. I finished the whole thing in about six months, beginning to end.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Dan Singer, who saved me from my cowardice. Selah Saterstrom, who leads by example. Johnny—Always. And a million writers who I hope to be as good as someday.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Looking for a good bar in Chicago? It’s probably in the book. That said, it’s been three years or so since I lived there, so who knows what’s still around/has popped up since then. I thought about calling it The Slow Learner’s Guide to Chicago. Maybe I still will.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Hopefully Strange Fish Something Fierce will be picked up by a well-respected independent press with an innovative bent. Any suggestions? Cross your fingers.