COREY ZELLER: I am relatively new to your work and I was just floored by how great you are! I mean, you’re honestly one of the best short story writers out there today. You’re also extremely prolific. Might you be able to describe your writing process?
SCOTT MCCLANAHAN: Oh man. I don’t know if I have a process, really. There are tricks, I’m sure, but I’m not going to give them away. I learned what little I know by stealing them. I’ve always found that when people want to teach you something about themselves or what they do—they’re usually wrong. It’s like being pregnant and saying, “I’m a little bit pregnant.” It’s sort of true, but it’s a big lie as well.
CZ: I was wondering: were your books published in chorological order? Plus, I see you have two books (Hill William and Crapalachia: A Biography of Place) that came out at the same time. Is that weird in any way? Do you feel like the books are competing with each other? And, fuck, while I am asking, do you have a personal favorite of your books or short stories? Why?
SM: The only book that wasn’t published in chronological order was Hill William. I guess in some ways they do compete, but not in my mind. Hill William is a book covered in blood, but I’ve always thought of my stuff as just another section of a big personal bible I’ve been building. Giancarlo and I are building them together. He’s a good man to ride the rocket with.
There are no tricks in Hill William and I guess that’s why it’s my favorite. It’s just a book trying to convince people they’re dreaming. That book almost feels like the gravestone of another person in some ways. ME. Do you know what I want on my gravestone? SEE YOU REAL SOON. I HOPE. I think that’s on Brendan Behan’s grave. He’s one of my favorite writers.
CZ: So far, I have noticed that you use the name “Scott” a lot in your work and a few names pop up again and again. How much of your work is rooted in the truth?
SM: None of it. It’s like how I say all of the time I want to fight Don Delillo. I mean it sometimes and sometimes it’s just silly. I want to fight Don Delillo because he was rude to someone very close to my heart. He did this at a reading. So that’s my answer. I want to fight Don Delillo. I’m talking to you, DD. It’s a horrible story. I’ll tell it to you one day.
Juliet Escoria, is a genius by the way.
CZ: I love when you write a second ending to your stories. Can you recall the first time you did that?
SM: I was a Klonipon addict when I wrote the stories in Stories V! I’d pill up in the morning and then just write in a sort of dream state until I fell asleep in the afternoon. Those stories always made me cry when I was writing them. Not because I was sad but just because I was high. They sort of drift like the drug they were written on. It all just oozes together.
CZ: What would the fifteen-year-old version of Scott McClanahan think of the current version of Scott McClanahan?
SM: I think he’d like him. I hope. He made me. He was a whole lot of damage though. Damage and sadness. But the little fucker fought his way out. I’d like to shake his hand and thank him. He’d probably want to fight me, though. I know he loved his mother and she loved him. You can never go wrong with a boy who loves his mother.