Ever wonder what Southern Oregon University students go on to do? How well they fare? Well, Guy Jackson, a SOU alumni, will be publishing a book of short stories, “Drink the Rest of That,” early next year. Jackson was a double major in history and theater here at SOU, as well as a former writer for the Siskiyou. He has gone on to work in film, music and writing- which includes short stories, plays and movie scripts.
Jackson was willing to give the Siskiyou an exclusive interview about him and his book, which comes out Jan. 30, 2015. To look at more of his work, the links to Jackson’s YouTube channel, his collaborative project with Robin The Fog and the page for “Drink the Rest of That” are below.
Q: How long have you been working on this book?
A: Around 12 years, I guess. In 2003 I started heavily writing short stories that could be read in under five minutes for performing at open mics. So there’s about 700 of them now, like an oil spill of some sort, and this book is all the stories that begin with the letter A.
Q: Your book has been described as modern fairy tales for adults. Do you agree with this? Was that the direction you wanted to go with these short stories?
A: Yeah, that’s a pretty accurate description in all its inner contradictions, ha ha. As for direction, I have no clue. Y’know, art and stuff. Hoping to save the world with art and stuff. Those are the general directions. But I’m a man, and as Bruce McCulloch wisely points out: “Men have no idea what’s going on in their own lives.”
Q: Is there any one story in your book that you are particularly most proud of? Why?
A: That changes every day but today I’m pleased with “1980” because it’s a little ode to Richard Brautigan, one of the prime movers of me writing short stories the way I do.
Q: How would you describe your writing style?
A: Childish and silly but hopefully in a good way.
By the way, before we go any further, I’m sure there’s plenty of people who’d grumpily disqualify these stories as “short stories”, and call them “flash fiction”. Not to sound just as peevish as those grumpy people, but I don’t like that term “flash fiction”, it sounds like a term somebody made up in 2010 to dismiss, well, me, and writers like me. But you go back and look at Richard Brautigan, they didn’t have to have this “flash fiction” term back then, did they? Even though they had mustaches back then and it seems like a term that came from beneath a mustache. No offense to mustaches, I have a best friend with a mustache, and Richard Brautigan had one, too, except that was a cool hippie mustache. But you can shave mustaches into oblivion so there’s no reason not to ridicule them. Anyway, I just think the stories I usually write are defined as “super-short short stories”. And since you can’t go around with four words and a hyphen, they’re really just “short stories”.
Q: Who are some of the major influences on your work?
A: Richard Brautigan, as I said 4 times now like some kind of literary name-drop-a-holic. And then there’s the uber-fathers like Stephen King and Kurt Vonnegut and Samuel Beckett and Monty Python. And there’s an amazing Southern Gothic writer named William Gay who wrote my favorite novel of all time: PROVINCES OF NIGHT. That book really broke something inside me. But really it’s just been all about “making a scene” so I was lucky in that I survived a long dose of the underground literary/music scenes in San Francisco and London and all kinds of little splinters and shards of fodder came from those places, all kinds of good people well met.
Q: With Notes on Cow Life, you worked with Robin The Fog. Do you often do collaborative art?
A: Yeah, I love doing as much with musicians of all stripes because secretly I’d like storytelling to be all rock star-ish though it never ever ever will be. I’ve also done, for two examples, really difficult-to-find-or-get-hold-of albums with a London sound genius named Katie English AKA Isnaj Dui and a Northern California guitar genius named Clay Hawkins. I double-dog-dare any collector types to find those CDs.
Q: Can you tell me about your career as a film maker? Your YouTube channel?
A: Yeah, I had this terrible trauma with actual “film” (the expensive kind) just before everything went digital. We made this short movie called GENTLE LOVERS (which is actually pretty good…again, find it if you can) and since indie film sets are disaster magnets, well… So that was the end of me climbing the real world of film for about 3 years and I wound up an ex-pat in London. I couldn’t work on sets there so I was like “Fuck it, I’ll just make movies like I never got to do when I was ten years old but Steven Spielberg did.”
Once I got over being horrified with the results of that decision, I tripped the light fantastic. I made 200-plus ultra-artsy-craftsy-sass-handed-scraped-together shorts with a freebie camera and a pirated editing program. You Tube had just come out and I thought it was so cool. Like you make a “movie” and then POP, there it is, whatever the hell you did, for all the world to see for free for whatever it was worth.
Q: Since you’ve worked with several mediums (film, writing, plays, recordings, etc.), what is your favorite to work with?
Q: What advice do you have for up and coming writers, film makers, and performing artists?
A: I’m still up-and-coming so I don’t know what’s the right thing to do. Have patience, I guess.
Q: Other than your book, what projects are you working on currently?
A: Looks like a script (DAY FOR NIGHT…not to be confused with Francois Truffaut’s movie) I wrote for Australian director Michael Chrisoulakis is going to get made January 2015 all guerilla-style. Then, if we haven’t killed each other, me and Michael will make this existential horror movie called NO ONE HERE BUT US by Eddie Strait and Julio Olivera. And Sean Cunningham, the producer-director of the original FRIDAY THE 13TH, optioned a horror script I wrote so he’s hopefully going to make that in 2015. And me and Robin The Fog have half a new album put together.
Q: How was your SOU experience? Did you feel that it gave you the skills you needed for what you are doing today?
A: Absolutely. I double-majored in Theatre and History and college was one of the best times of my life, right up until real life began. Ugh. I would in fact encourage today’s SOU students to stay at SOU and stay in Ashland and never ever ever ever leave.
Q: Then on a final note, the release date on your book is set for January 30, correct?
A: Yup! From Roundfire Books! You can preorder on Amazon right this second.
Jackson’s YouTube page can be found here.
Roundfire’s page for “Drink the Rest of That” can be found here.
“Notes on Cow Life” with Robin The Fog can be found here.