Monday, March 17, 2014

An interview with Michael Wayne Hampton

Pre-order Hampton's novella here.

Co-editor Teneice Durrant interviewed #BLauthor2 Michael Wayne Hampton about his writing:

TD: First up, can you give our readers a list of your published works, of which there seem to be more every month or so?

MH: A complete list would take up a lot of space, but if your readers are interested they can go to my website. All my publications are listed there, some with links to my work.

In the last year I’ve published two books: a flash fiction micro-novel titled Bad Kids from Good Schools from WingedCity Press (out of print at the moment, but hopefully coming back soon), and a short story collection titled Romance forDelinquents which is out from Foxhead Books. My novella Roller Girls Love Bobby Knight won the first Deerbird Novella Prize, and will be released in May by Artistically DeclinedPress.

Other than the books I have out or forthcoming, in the last twelve months I’ve published a number of book reviews in journals such as Atticus Review and NecessaryFiction, and a few essays.

Since last fall most of my attention has been directed toward the two novels I’m currently working on.

TD: Do you have a favorite child, so to speak? Do you feel one of your books more properly or completely represents you, what you want to do as a writer, than the others?

MH: My favorite book is always the one I’m working on at the time so at present my affection is split between the punk rock YA novel I’m in the process of editing, and the literary fiction novel I’m halfway through drafting.

Romance for Delinquents represents my interests as a writer as I have a soft spot for young characters behaving badly, but it’s at best a snapshot of where I was as a writer when I wrote it. Writers, like all individuals, are in a state of constant evolution so my current project is always the best representation of what I’m attempting to do and where my aspirations are directed.

TD:  Can you talk a little about how you balance work, writing, and a personal life? That’s a major issue for a lot of writers, so when we see someone who is being very prolific, we always wonder where the hell they find the time and energy.

MH: Balance is always a struggle, and I suck at moderation. When I’m involved in a project it has a tendency to take over my life and fill up all my free time. Balance is a conscious practice, and one which I’m trying to get better at.

As for when I find the time, I don’t. I make the time. If you truly love something you’ll create the time for it. In my case that means spending a good amount of time working late at night, I generally write from midnight until four or five in the morning, and not losing hours to idle television watching or going out much. When I’m writing my life is pretty monastic in that I spend long silent hours alone, locked away in my office, contemplating the words, and wondering if I made the right decisions in life.

In terms of energy, I do it because I’m driven too. I want to do meaningful work, and I depend on fear of failure and anger from falling short more than the romantic notion of divine inspiration. I go in every night and try to get some blood on the floor metaphorically speaking. Like Larry Brown said, “If you’re willing to hurt enough, you can have it,” and in all my long nights I’m building up scar 
tissue and learning to take the inherent beating that comes with the struggle to say one true thing. 

TD:  What are you most excited about right now, be it in your own work, a trend in fiction-writing, a book you’re reading, an author you’ve just met, anything?

MH: Right now I’m most excited about my punk rock YA novel since it’s a new form of writing for me, and I’m beginning to understand the difference between that form and the literary fiction I normally write.

In each work a writer has to include something that’s for their own amusement that also feeds into the narrative, and in the two books I’m crafting now that something is music. In the YA novel it’s late 70s to mid-80s punk. In my other novel it’s early 90s grunge. Those references are for both my own enjoyment, but also color the world of the story; the one I live in for such a long period of time.

TD:  Do you have favorite literary magazines or presses?

MH: Some of my favorite literary magazines include Barrelhouse, Tin House, NANO Fiction, and Pank.

Small presses are where most of the interesting, risky, and experimental writing can be found today and I love the work put out by presses like Two Dollar Radio, Publishing Genius, Civil Coping Mechanisms, and Artistically Declined Press among others.

TD:  What’s your revision process like—ax or scalpel?

MH: It depends on the project. Since I’ve be doing longer projects I’ve started not only doing multiple drafts (the YA novel is on number 8), but also composing a detailed editing guide for myself which contains all the character bios, the timeline, each chapter broken down into scenes, etc. The last editing guide for my YA novel was forty-two pages long, and I’ll make another one before I do the next full revision. This might seem like a lot of work, and it does take a day or two to compose, but it saves me time in the long run. Moreover it’s an incredibly helpful resource when I go in to edit.

TD:  What are you working on right now? Do you spend more time these days writing new work or revising and editing with a mind toward publication?

Romance for Delinquents is available here.
MH: I answered this above, but at present I’m working on the final edit for my punk rock YA novel, and drafting the first version of a literary fiction novel. I don’t do both simultaneously though. I have around 40,000 words of my literary fiction novel done, but it’s been set aside until I finish the edits on my YA novel.

I always have ideas for other works. Once those projects are finished I’ve got a collage essay waiting for me to complete, and an idea for a short story collection that will be different than any of my previous works.

TD:  Plug something, someone, anything, anyone. Go:

MH: My short story collection Romance for Delinquents is out now from Foxhead Books. It’s available from,, or via my website,, which is updated monthly at least and covers my writing life. It also contains links to some of my published works and links to buy my books.

If you’re a member of the TNBBC on, Romance for Delinquents is the May selection for the book club.