Christopher Heavener’s Omens portends great things in the March issue. He talks with us today about modern letters in Central Florida, the rituals he’s a slave to and the strange things we ask of our lovers.
1. Do you believe in omens? If so, what are some that you believe in?
I believe they’re there if you want them to be. We’ve got this amazing ability as humans to mentally manifest almost anything in order to align the truth with the way we see the world. I used to live in Chicago and not too far from my apartment this woman saw the Virgin Mary in a water stain produced from a crack underneath the 90/94 freeway. It was headline news in the city for weeks. There was a big shrine, people brought candles and flowers. I stopped by and looked at it. It looked like a water stain to me. But I like the idea we can have our receptors open like that, hoping so desperately for a miracle or a sign, and that hope kinda grows into an obsession that alters your perception so vastly with others.
2. What is the most unusual order you’ve followed in a relationship?
I was asked to wash a cat in the bathtub recently. That’s not that weird.
3. What is your perception of the literary scene in Central Florida?
There isn’t one, really. There are people who love and crave good books, and I’ve got a pretty faithful contingency of supporters down there. But ultimately it’s pretty scattered and unfocused. I think it would help if we had a notable writing program taught by published writers, but to my knowledge, that sort of thing doesn’t exist. Rollins College (which is this real fancy school attended by mostly young rich white people) brought Michael Cunningham down for their annual writing festival. I think Edwidge Danticat came some years back too, but it was so poorly promoted that no one knew about it. A lot of people simply don’t care about that sort of thing down there. Orlando as a city was kind of predicated on this idea of growth and development as far and as fast as possible, no discretion in terms of commerce and urban sprawl, consequences be damned. Lots of it is strip malls and kitschy attractions. That sort of mentality doesn’t necessarily make for a healthy breeding ground of intellectual discourse, unfortunately. If it sounds like I’m dogging my home town let me say that some of the most passionate, beautiful people I’ve ever met are from and continue to live there and there’s pockets of cool, legit stuff to do, just like every other city.
4. What rituals do you follow in your daily life? How important are they to you to follow exactly?
It follow a routine to a sickening degree. I eat microwave oatmeal, read the news, update the site, commute to my studio, work, work, work, microwave leftovers, work, work, work, commute home, make dinner, watch hulu for an hour or so, then try to read and write for a few hours before bed. If I’m not following this routine I get a sharp pain in my stomach that means I’m not being productive and am therefore wasting my life. I’m pretty much driven not by inspiration or creativity as much as I am driven by the fear of failure and death. Which is an awful state of mind for someone doing creative work, and something I’m trying to get over.
5. What author would you bring back to life to engage in a drinking contest? What would be the end result?
I hate drinking contests. Everyone loses. I’d like to have a water balloon fight with Carson McCullers.