Tag Archives: writers

Interview with Darlene Campos, BHA Contributor

* Well, here’s something new. Back Hair Advocate is getting into the business of interviews. In our first one, we chatted with Darlene Campos, author of “The Operation,” which we posted to our site yesterday. Read it here.

 

1. (THE SERIOUS…)

 

Your story, “The Operation,” takes place on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. What attracted you to writing about the Lakota characters and lifestyle on the reservation?

During my first semester of college in 2009, I had a history professor who was very passionate about the Lakota tribe. He taught us a lot about the Pine Ridge Reservation and since I had never heard of it, I did my own research on the side. Eventually, I fell in love with the reservation and I felt compelled to write a story that took place there. I’ve never been to Pine Ridge but one day I would love to go and visit.

When did the idea for these characters come to you? What were you doing/where were you?

The Thunderclap family came to my mind one night at 3 am. I couldn’t sleep, so I wrote a short story about them as homework for my beginning fiction class. In the story, Jay Eagle (AKA Ate) died from his heart condition, leaving his wife and baby son all alone. My classmates enjoyed the story, but they were pretty pissed about Jay Eagle Thunderclap’s death and told me I was wrong to kill off such a loveable character. I took their advice and kept him alive in a subsequent draft. I also changed the point of view from 3rd person omniscient to Nimo’s point of view. And no, Jay Eagle Thunderclap will never die in the series. I promise.

You have written a number of other stories featuring these characters. Are you putting together a book?

Yes! I’m in the process of putting all the Thunderclap family stories together in one book. I’ve been editing it extensively for the last year, and I plan to start submitting to agents and publishers in a couple of weeks. I hope to write and produce a small television series about them sometime in the future. We’ll see what happens. 

What kind of research did you do to write these stories?

I read tons of fictional stories by Native American authors and loads of books on Lakota history and culture. I also took some college classes on Native American studies. Honestly, I get a lot of heat for writing outside my own culture, and I am frequently told to stick to my own, which drives me nuts.

Then in 2012, I got the opportunity to meet Sherman Alexie, a famous Native American author who wrote “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.” I asked him what he thought about me writing from the point of view of a Lakota boy. He said it ultimately doesn’t matter what you write, all that matters is that your writing is good. He’s right.

Where do you write mostly? Please describe this place.

Even though I write in a variety of places, my favorite place to write is in bed. My most successful story titled “The Fork” was written this way. I fell asleep right after writing the final sentence, and my pen’s ink stained my sheets. Thank goodness for detergent.

What’s a flash fiction you read recently that knocked your socks off?

“Godoy Lives” by Daniel Chacon. It’s a beautifully written story about an impostor. 

What are two writing sites you visit and enjoy?

Aside from Duotrope and Newpages strictly for submission calls, I love Writer’s Relief and Writer’s Digest. They always have good advice on their sites.

What other things you do besides writing?

I like to ride my bike, go to the gym, read books, and spend time with those close to me, especially with my wonderful boyfriend, David.

 

2. (THE NOT SO SERIOUS…)

 

What movie franchise do you wish would just end already?

Back to the Future should’ve ended after the first one. It’s almost 2015, and we still don’t have hoverboards. We were lied to.

Donut or doughnut?

I live in Houston, and we have Shipley’s Do-Nuts headquarters. Donut is short for Don’t Mess with Texas.

Tell me everything you know about sea otters.

I know otter-ly nothing.

How did you celebrate your publication in Back Hair Advocate? Feel free to lie.

Huge make-out session with David, fireworks, and some Shipley’s Do-Nuts. It totally happened. Or did it?

The last thing you ate?

Trail Mix! Whoever invented it was a genius.

Worst piece of advice you ever got?

When I was fourteen, a relative told me I should stop writing because it’s not a ‘girl’s’ hobby. As you can see, I take advice from my relatives very seriously.

Worst job you ever worked?

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been paid $800 for my stories, which isn’t much. Writing is demanding, difficult, and requires long hours. I hate the process of writing, yet I feel like I’m going to go crazy when I’m not writing. In a perfect world, my stories would earn me enough money to quit my day job and also provide me with a lifetime supply of trail mix.

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Call for Submissions!

Back Hair Advocate’s humor factory has been quiet these last few days. Which is to say we need your submissions. Please send your flash, poetry, nonfiction, rants, spoofs, and jokes to backhairadvocate@outlook.com. Humor is our business, so do make sure they are genuinely funny as well as well written. We look forward to reading your work!

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The Bingo Sorceress by Justin Grimbol

“Are you wearing a sweat suit?” Bella asked.

“Maybe,” I said.

I was in the kitchen scavenging for crackers. And yes, I was wearing a black sweatshirt and black sweat pants. It was a sweat suit. It was true.

“You are wearing a sweat suit,” she said. “And it’s the creepiest, cutest sweat suit ever. Have you left the house yet today?”

Bella was my wife and she had just come home from work and she looked happy to see me, regardless of the sweat suit and my freaked-out, cave-dweller appearance.

She even gave me a hug.

“I love you,” she said.

“You’re hugging me too tightly,” I said.

She let go and rolled her eyes.

“So, what did you do today?” she asked.

“I worked on stuff.”

“Like what?”

“Writing stuff.”

“What kinda writing stuff?”

“Just stuff.”

I looked at the light in the kitchen.

“Have you been in the house all day?” she asked.

I looked at her face. I loved that face. I loved her big eyes and her dirty blonde hair and her goofy expressions.

I stared at her face awhile.

“Wow. You are really out of it,” she said.

“I’m so out of it right now. I haven’t been out all day and I feel cray cray.”

She laughed. Bella loved the term “cray cray.”

And I usually loved Bella’s bouncy laughter. But it was too much for me right then.

“You don’t get it. I feel like shit. I wanted to ride my bike, but there was too much snow and ice. It’s a snowpocalypse out there.”

Bella laughed. She also loved the term “snowpocalypse.” She thought that she had invented it, but I was the one who had invented it.

“I invented that word,” she said.

“Can we please not fight right now, I’ve had a rough day.”

“You’ve had a rough day. I had a doozy of a day,” Bella said.

She started listing all the things that happened at work. She worked as a recreational coordinator at a neurological center. She worked with the kids. They had a variety of issues. Some couldn’t talk or even move much. Most of them had behavioral issues. Biting and headbutting were fairly normal. So was poop-throwing. One kid liked to swallow shoes. That’s right, whole shoes.

Earlier that day, she had asked this one kid to go to bed. He called her a “fat bitch.” He wanted to stay up eating cookies and watching TV. That was understandable enough. Bella suggested a compromise. Maybe he could have one more cookie and even a chocolate milk, but he had to go to bed. “Fuck your compromise, fat bitch,” the kid said. Then as she was walking down the hall she saw the kid’s little middle fingers poking in and out of his room.

“And then there’s this one kid,” she went on. “He calls me ‘Hairy Armpits.’ And now all the kids call me that.”

I smiled. I liked that nickname. It was a good nickname.

She had hairy armpits cause of me. I thought they were sexy. When we first started dating, I asked her to grow her armpit hair out and she agreed.

Bella kept listing off crazed things the kids in her program had done.

But it all sounded adorable to me. And I could tell she wasn’t really bothered by it either.

Her last job was much rougher.

The kids threw poop at her almost every other day and she got headbutted frequently.

One time a kid right in front of her dug out a bunch of poop and then grabbed her hair. It took five men to pry the kid off of her. She lost a bunch of hair and she smelled poopy for days.

This new job was easy by comparison. And she knew that.

Still, she liked to bitch.

“You need to cut your hair,” she said, switching subjects.

“What? No,” I said. “I want my hair to be long and powerful.”

“Honey, you’re balding. When you have long hair you just look creepy. Plus you need to start looking for a job.”

“I know, you’re right.”

“What do you want for dinner?” she asked.

“Let’s skip dinner and go to Bingo night,” I said.

“Should we?”

“Fuck it, we’ve both had rough days. You got called out on your hairy armpits and I had my wife call me a creepy bald guy.”

She nodded.

“Do we have the money?”

“We’ll take some out of our savings.”

She got excited and started hopping around the house, clapping her hands and making weird noises.

I loved it when Bella got excited like that.

I loved watching her.

She was so goofy. So goofy it went right past clumsy and awkward and became something beautiful.

And she had a good laugh. It was loud and sloppy. It took guts to have a laugh like that.

Guts and a big butt. My wife had a big butt. A big, warm butt. A stinky butt. I was sure that big butt was linked to her laugh somehow. The secret to that laugh was in there. I just had to find it. With my face.

“Look at my butt!” she said, as she was changing out of her work clothes.

“It’s my butt. Not yours.”

I grabbed it. And squeezed.

She slapped my hand away and ran off, laughing.

*****

We drove to the Ivanhoe, this cozy Irish pub on Main Street in Racine, Wisconsin.

There was barely anybody there. I figured it was going to be easy to win.

We ordered dark, dark stouts and some bingo cards.

The girl reading the numbers was drunk and she was acting belligerent and wild and that wildness made all the unfunny things she said hilarious. Even though she had a weak chin and no hips and tacky highlights in her hair, I wanted to cuddle with her and smell her butt a little.

But I held my wifey close, hoping she could protect my chubby body against this bingo sorceress and her boozy magic.

“O 69,” she called out.

And everyone laughed.

Things got rowdy.

I got rowdy.

Every time I got a number, I hooted and hollered and acted nuts.

But, even though there were only six people in the bar, I didn’t win a single game.

Some old guy bought us shots.

There was a muscle-bound, middle-aged dude at the bar. He grabbed Bella’s butt while she was walking to the bathroom.

I looked at him. It wasn’t a mean look or an angry look. Just a look.

I was thinking, man, this guy looks like a gym teacher.

The guy caught me staring. At first I thought he was going to fight me, but then he apologized for grabbing my wife’s ass. And bought me a beer.

I drank the beer.

Bella came back.

The guy bought her a beer as well.

Bella laughed and rolled her eyes.

Bella, the old ass grabber, and I raised our glasses and made a toast.

“BUTTS ARE AWESOME!” I yelled.

Bella cheered.

The old butt grabber shook his head and turned away from us.

I kissed Bella on the mouth.

Her breath was foul, but I liked it that way.

******************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Justin Grimbol is the author of THE PARTY LORDS, THE CREEK and THE CRUD MASTERS. He lives in Racine, Wisconsin. He’s kinda stinky.

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