Callow Monster by Joseph Celizic is one of the fine stories featured in the February issue. Today he talks with J. Bradley about the monster inside him, the influence of faith and doing violence unto Muppets.
What monster lives in you? Is it something you’d like to become or prefer to hide? What would it look like?
Well, it’s nothing like the one in the story, thankfully. Still pretty disturbing, though. I have all of this movie and sports trivia piling up in my head like mounds of damp, sticky laundry. So I guess it would look like a college male dorm room.
More seriously, and at the risk of sounding like a preacher, I do believe I have a sinful nature and it’s something I try to fight every day. That sort of internal struggle is what I was interested in exploring in “Callow Monster.”
When you wrote “Callow Monster”, how did you prevent its unsettling content from stopping you from finishing it?
Luckily for me, “Callow Monster” is a short section of a much longer story about a character more complex and, at least for me, more sympathetic. I think if I had tried to just write it without knowing more about him, I wouldn’t be able to. It’s too hopeless and haunting the way it ends. I feel better knowing more happens with him. I feel kind of bad for leaving the reader feeling like that, now.
Name five songs you really like that involve the word “Monster” in the song title.
This is hard for me, because I really can’t stand “Monster Mash” but, of course, now I can’t stop thinking about it. I like “Werewolves of London” and “Enter Sandman,” though I’m not sure those count. Maybe I’ll just say the whole “Monster Monster” album by The Almost.
How has your religion influenced your writing?
I would have to say my faith is one of the biggest reasons why I write. It wasn’t what got me started, but it’s certainly what’s kept me going. Faith changed how I see the world and the observations my mind makes. And I think it’s given me a broader, more open view of writing itself, like writing isn’t just art for art’s sake, at least not for me. It’s about a complex world around us that we don’t completely understand, but desperately want to. Writing can give us glimpses of what it’s like to create something and I think, in a way, it helps me relate to and appreciate God.
Which Muppet would you like to punch in its stomach? Why?
I really want to say Miss Piggy, because that voice is awful. But I feel uncomfortable saying I would like to punch a girl, even if she is a pig muppet. So I’ll say Animal. That thing doesn’t make any sense.