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Wednesday
Jan292014

An Interview-in-Excerpts with Tom Williams

Photo Credit: Tim HolbrookTom Williams's novel Don't Start Me Talkin' will be published by Curbside Splendor in February, 2014. Williams is also the author of the novella The Mimic's Own Voice, and a contributor to the forthcoming anthology Four Fathers (Cobalt). He chairs the English department at Morehead State University.

An excerpt from his novel, "Don't Start Me Talkin'," appears in Issue Fifty-Four of The Collagist.

Here, he answers questions "in the form of excerpts"--with further excerpts from Don't Start Me Talkin' Enjoy!

What is writing like?

Every night we play I hear it occasionally, that rough and raw and real sound I heard for the first time in my bedroom. Usually in a few notes or, at best, a song or two. Tonight, though, that’s all I hear. Every harp player I stole from is in my ears. Big Walter Horton’s mellow phrasing, Junior Wells’s showmanship, James Cotton’s rhythm, a whole lot of Little Walter’s bends and Sonny Boy’s trills and draws. Plus there’s my own sound, my own blues blowing for all to hear. It’s a different kind of blues, I have to say. It’s coming from all those lonely nights in Troy, later in East Lansing, when I listened at night to black men from another generation—another world, it seemed—and played along, yearning to connect but never dreaming I’d actually get a chance to play next to one. I only hoped I could take a harp and make it talk to me in a voice I understood.”

What isn’t writing like?

“Relief and sadness alternate through me like waves”

When you do it, why?

“I wanted to learn how to kick up such a racket myself”

When you don’t, why?

“[B]eer seems a more tolerable alternative.”

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