Eric Beeny, author of Lepers and Mannequins, is brilliant. His book is philosophically rich, while still being fantastically entertaining reading. Eric took the time to chat with me about writing, working with legendary Bizarro writer and editor Kevin Donihe and his plans for the future.
Yesterday, Bizarro Central posted an exclusive extra portion of the interview. You’ll definitely want to check it out.
Lepers and Mannequins’ cover art is lovely. Can you tell us about the artist and what it was like acquiring your cover?
The cover was done by my friend Kenny Dumas who’s a tattoo artist at our friend Mark Madden’s shop, MaddTat2. Kenny’s an awesome tattoo and graphic artist. We have the same birthday. He also did the cover for my love/sex prose poetry collection, Pseudo-Masochism. I love what he did for that cover, so I had to ask him to do something for the cover for Lepers… I had a real simple idea for the cover, but while discussing the story with him he was already formulating something in his head and when he told me his idea I loved it. When I saw it, I couldn’t imagine the cover ever being anything else. Thanks, Kenny.
You worked with rocking writer and editor Kevin Donihe for your book. Would you tell us about getting involved with this year’s New Bizarro Author Series and what it was like to work with Kevin on your book?
Kevin was awesome. He has a great eye for detail, and he’s really easy to work with. He suggested edits rather than forcing them on me, just to get me to see how things could be different, which I liked. He would suggest edits, explaining why he thought this sentence or that section could be reworked, and I liked a lot of what he suggested and changed some things according to those suggestions, and other suggestions made me think of other things I maybe wanted to change, and sometimes I changed those things. But also, if I didn’t want to change something for whatever reason, he was okay with that. It’s good having an editor willing to tell you what he/she thinks doesn’t work and why, but it’s a better editor willing to allow you the freedom to express yourself and keep what you feel is integral to the story. Thanks, Kevin.
You’ve published several books of poetry prior to Lepers and Mannequins. How did you find yourself writing a prose novel?
Lepers… is my first novel in print, but I’ve published two other novels as e-books: The Dying Bloom (Pangur Ban Party, 2009) and Milk Like a Melted Ghost (Thumbscrews Press, 2011). I’ve also published a collection of stories called Snowing Fireflies (Folded Word Press, 2010). But yes, I’ve also written the poetry collections Of Creatures (Gold Wake Press, 2010), Pseudo-Masochism (Anonymosity Press, 2011) and How Much the Jaw Weighs (Anonymosity Press, 2011). I wrote Lepers… in 2008 while recovering from an appendectomy (fitting, since I, too, was now missing a part of my body). I wrote three other novels before Lepers… (two of which I won’t ever try to publish), and I’ve written five novels since, two of which (The Dying Bloom and Milk…) are published.
Though I know it can be a mistake to deconstruct an author based on their work, Lepers and Mannequins has me wondering if you’re a bit of a romantic, especially page 54. So, what about it, Eric – are you a romantic?
Yeah, I think so. The priest and college football coach I serial-raped last Sunday might not think so, but yeah… I’m alone, ‘romantically’. I have been for a long time. I think that qualifies me to be romantic—I’m in love with the thought that I’m capable of being loved, capable of loving. It’s really easy to be romantic when you’re not in love. There’s so much potential. You feel you could love anyone, if they would just appear beside you in bed and hug you hard enough. I don’t know. I think about this too much to say anything I wouldn’t really mean.
Do you have any future plans for more prose books you’d like to talk about?
I have four other novels that are still unpublished: The Immortals Act Their Age, Mermaid Sackrace, The Quarantine Ceremony and Trawling Oblivion. My future plans are just to see them published, if possible.
Eric keeps a blog at Dead End on Progressive Ave.