Short, Sharp Interview: Joe Clifford

PDB: Can you pitch CHOICE CUTS in 25 words or less?

Fucked up people doing fucked up things, and fucked up things happen.

(Or the clean version)

The exploration of the marginalized, their poor decisions, and then dealing with the mess.

PDB: Which books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

Hilary Davidson’s Damage Done and The Next One to Fall; The Dark Knight Rises, Lawless, Looper; Breaking Bad and Walking Dead

PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?

Good question. I think that is all that is possible. What I mean is, a writer loses the inability to read without dissection, taking apart structure to see how it works, so he/she can imitate the process…for the enjoyment of others. There is no more reading for simple enjoyment. At least not for me. It all has…a purpose now.

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?

Oh, yes. I had the chance to pitch an idea to NBC this year, an update of The Twilight Zone, but, y’know, noir & hardboiled. Nothign happened with that, but I was able to turn a short story into a script. I liked it. My upcoming novel, Wake the Undertaker (Snubnose Press) was written, big dreamer that I am, to be a film. Or at least with cinema in mind. I wrote a lot of the scenes seen through the camera’s eye.

PDB: How much research goes into each book?                        

I had a professor in grad school. Dan Wakefield. Wrote Going All the Way, New York in the Fifties. Older guy, hung around in the Beat days. I asked him once what it was like doing research before the Internet. Like what would you do if you have to knew the per capita income of France. He was, like, “Joe, oh, it was awful. We’d have to go to the library and fill out a card with your question. Then you’d have to give it to the librarian, and she’d get in these metal cages and have to go up to the reference section on the 6th floor, and go through the stacks, find the book on France, write down the answer, get back in the cages…” And I was like, Holy shit. That’s terrifying.

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer?

I call Facebook “The Office.” Since writing is such an isolated activity. I mean, unless you’re one of those jackasses in a coffee shop, you write alone. You need the social interaction, and a place to promote your work (as well as check in on what others are doing). Unfortunately, it can also be a huge distraction. So you need to be disciplined. I think it’s just part of writing in the 21st Century. Certainly beats going to the library and filling out those damn cards.

PDB: What’s in the cards in 2012/13?

Wake the Undertaker (Snubnose) comes out in December. Junkie Love (Vagabondage Press), my semi-autobiographical drug novel comes out early next year. I have my reading series Lip Service West. I am giving several readings throughout the Bay Area in support of these ventures, and am planning a book tour of the East Coast next spring.

Bio: Joe Clifford is the editor of The Flash Fiction Offensive and producer of Lip Service West, a “gritty, real, raw”reading series in Oakland, CA.  His short story collection, Choice Cuts, is out now, and his hardboiled novel, Wake the Undertaker, will be published later this year (Snubnose Press). His novel, Junkie Love, is slated for 2013 release (Vagabondage Press).Much of Joe’s writing can be found at has been to jail but never prison.

Published by PaulDBrazill

A writer and teacher, from England and living in Poland. 'The Poundland Poe.' Books include The Last Laugh, Guns Of Brixton, and Gumshoe Blues. This/ That/ & The Other.

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