Questions from Me to Me

“I resemble that remark”

 – Anonymous, self-aware clever guy 

This weeks’ blog comes in the form of an interview I recently conducted with myself. It starts with a question I ask myself at least once a week, and then it kind of goes from there. I’m presenting the abridged version of the full interview, since a little self-indulgence goes a long way. 

So, what’s the idea behind New Bayou Books? Do you really think it’s possible to start a “literary revolution”, and really, what does that mean anyway?

It’s a fair question, I suppose . . . though you didn’t have to be so snotty about the way you phrased it. I guess it all started–

Wait! Let me stop you right there. At the risk of offending your artistic sensibilities . . . if I might just suggest you leave the backstory out of it and answer the question more directly. 

You’re saying your readers don’t appreciate context? That, what, they don’t have the attention span–

Our readers.

What?

Our readers. You said “your readers”. But it’s the same readership, since we are the same person. Remember?

Whatever. You really don’t have to be so snarky about it all. 

Shall we move on?

Okay, fine. But wait–here’s another question: if we’re the same person, then why are you being so combative about all this?

Because you are stalling. Wasting the valuable time of our readers. 

Well, they might actually find this kind of thing entertaining. 

I doubt it. 

Really?

Really. Surely you don’t think you’re the first to do this?

. . . 

No! Don’t tell me you thought this was an original idea! [Doubles over laughing]

Now that’s just rude!

I’m sorry! . . . it’s just [laughing continues]. Okay, okay. I’m ready to start again. Go on, please . . . you were saying?

I’ve never been so insulted in . . . well, in at least a week! Anyway, as I was saying, I started New Bayou Books for one main reason. I wanted to raise the flag, in a sense, for a new kind of commercial literature for Louisiana. A new kind of Louisiana literature. 

And you think you are the person to champion this new form of Louisiana literature? A bit presumptuous, don’t you think?

Okay. First of all, I don’t talk like that! And second . . . well, yeah, I guess you’re right. It is kind of presumptuous, in a way. I mean, I’m definitely not the poster boy for Louisiana literature. 

You can say that again. 

Will you let me finish, please? . . . I’m waiting.

Go ahead.

Are you going to interrupt again?

Maybe. Okay, fine! I’ll keep quiet! Go ahead, please. You were saying something about how you’re a terrible fit to represent whatever this new school of Louisiana literature is. 

See, there you go again with the attitude!

What? I’m just keeping it real. 

Oh, now you’re keeping it real! Wasn’t it just yesterday that you were telling me how All Saints Day of the Dead is gonna be an instant classic? How it ‘might just be the best piece of Louisiana fiction to come out this year’?

Well, that’s just because there doesn’t seem to be any new Louisiana fiction coming out.

You see? That just proves my point! It’s why I created New Bayou Books. Because there’s just not enough contemporary fiction coming out of South Louisiana. New Orleans is well represented, that’s for sure! But Cajun country? You just don’t see new, modern fiction that’s set there. 

I’ll give you that. It’s true. But that brings us back to the original point. Who do you think you are? You don’t even live in Louisiana anymore!

Again. I won’t argue with you there. And if you had just let me finish, I would have arrived at that point! Which is to say that when it gets to the point where a middle aged, unpublished writer who hasn’t lived in his home state since the Bush administration is calling for an upswell in new Louisiana literature, things have reached a certain level of desperation. 

An “upswell”? This is the really the word you want to use? 

Gimmie a break! This is all off the cuff. And anyway, it’s got a vaguely nautical kind of vibe to it. People might find that refreshing. 

Whatever. It’s your reputation, after all. 

And yours. 

Don’t remind me. Anyway, let me see if I have this right. You started New Bayou Books because you recognized there’s a . . . let’s call it a vacuum, a dearth of new, South-Louisiana-based literature out in the marketplace?

Exactly. Though I’m not sure “dearth” is the right word.

Look it up, smart guy. Anway, so far you’ve only published the one book? Your first one?

Right. It’s called Tattoos and Tans, and it’s about a tattoo artist who opens the first tattoo parlor in the city of Eunice. 

I don’t think people call them tattoo “parlors” anymore. 

Okay. Thanks for that piece of constructive criticism. 

Anytime. 

I’m thinking maybe we should bring this to a close. 

Why? I’m just getting warmed up. And I haven’t even asked you about All Saints Day of the Dead . . . or the new thing you’re working on for the Kindle Vella platform. What’s it called?

Vice Sign. It features a character from the first book, Curtis Laroux. He gets fired from his job for making a decidedly un-woke joke at work, and it kind of gets crazy from there. 

Really? So, you’re wading into politics now?

No. Not politics. See, that’s the problem! So many people seem to see things through a political lens now, but it’s not about right or left. Lord knows it’s not about the center, since there isn’t a center these days. It’s about freedom of speech, and about imperfection. About being flawed and being okay with that.

Oh, I get it now. “Vice sign”. Like the opposition of “virtue”, right? What happened, was “vice signaling”.com taken?

That’s exactly right. So I had to go with Vicesign. The website’s gonna open in a couple weeks. 

You see this face? This is my skeptical face. Anyway, keep us posted, I guess. And when does All Saints come out?

October. In time for the real All Saints Day. And the Black Pot festival too. Both events feature prominently in the book. 

Oh, I see what you’ve done there, tying the theme of the book to the actual holiday. Do you really think that’s gonna win you any favors with the religious crowd?

Please! Don’t remind me. My whole family’s Catholic.

We already established that you’re from South Louisiana, so that’s pretty much a given. 

True. Anyway. Can we pause this interview for now? I’m feeling a little . . . wobbly. 

Can’t take the pressure, huh?

Pressure! Dude, we’re the same person! You’re supposed to be on my side! But you’re talking to me like . . . dude, do you really talk to everyone this way?

What way?

Don’t act like you don’t know! This whole arrogant, uppity attitude you have.

Me? No way!

Yeah, it’s infused with pretty much everything you say. In fact, it might be why some Louisiana people are skeptical of you.

Skeptical of us, you mean. 

Oh shit! You’re saying I do it too? No way!

Where do you think I got it from?

[The writer looks quesy, all of a sudden, and lurches from the room.]

Published by New Bayou Books

JR Reed started New Bayou Books to spark a revolution in Louisiana literature. The goal of the company is simple: to great writers out of the shadows to carry on the Louisiana literary tradition.

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