If you haven’t heard of my new project, the On Fire anthology over at Transmundane Press, this mini-interview and excerpt series will showcase the amazing authors I get to work with and their writing. Meet Will Waller.
What do you find to be the easiest thing about writing? What is the hardest?
By far the easiest thing for me to do is come up with premises for stories to write. The hardest… I don’t know if difficult is really the operative concern, but my biggest fault as a writer is being too easily satisfied. Since I have so many premises, when I finish drafting and editing one, I want to be done. So, sometimes I’m too easily satisfied. Unfortunately, good writing rarely works like that.
What did you edit out of this story?
The mean-spirited parts.
What are you doing to market yourself?
I’m not, really. The audience I have I have because I’m mouthy and opinionated, and because I’ve been part of a few different publications, including The Fantasist Magazine, which I founded and still run with my fiancé. I’ve always been strange, I think, in that I don’t really enjoy talking about my own writing. Working in publishing gives me something else to talk about at the bar at a con, or any other context, really. If that helps me market myself, and I’m not sure it does, it’s really only because people remember me as the odd young person not trying to tell everyone who will listen about his novel.
From “Torch” by Will Waller
This is the story of Stingy Jack:
You’re a blacksmith in a small Irish town. You’re a gigantic fucking asshole, so naturally people try to kill you, but this is a fairy tale, so even with an axe in your back, you get to bargain with the Devil while you both get a pint. You say, “I have a great idea,” and nothing good ever happens after that. There’s a thing with a coin and a plan to steal some souls, then a cross, and it all ends with you getting another year of life. You spend that year having an affair in a small town with a woman who doesn’t tell you she’s already pregnant. After she leaves, the Devil corners you under an apple tree, but you’re still not ready to let it go. Again with the crosses, but this time, you’re stupid. While he’s stuck in that tree, you make him swear to never take your soul. When you try to catch up with the woman, she tells you about her new baby girl. You’re supposed to act like the summer never happened. The pearly gates are closed. She doesn’t want you near her good china. So, you hit bottom and head to Hell to set up shop, but when you get there, the Devil laughs at you. He won’t let you in. You made him swear he wouldn’t, but he remembers your college days, and he has a sense of humor. He sticks some Hellfire in a turnip, so the burning smell can light your way while you wander. He says it’s to help, but the fire carries the memory of the summer, and the memory, with the smell, clings to every new relationship. You fall into old habits and become a shadow of yourself, but the only thing that people see is a hopeful, little light bobbing in a stinky mist. Other people mistake your light for guidance and lose themselves in a swamp they don’t see following your little light. Knowing you’re lost anyway, you wander west, chasing an old college friend, hoping he can set you right.
Will Waller is an author of speculative fiction, scholarship, and experimental writing originally from the Finger Lakes Wine Region of New York. After two years in San Francisco spent working as an editor for Eleven Eleven Journal, he relocated to St. Louis to found The Fantasist Magazine. His writing focuses on memory, music, and the weather, and has been featured by Bay Area Generations, Heavy Feather Review, Rivet Magazine, and the On Fire anthology of Transmundane Press.
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