Fin Sorrel has just come out with a new novel, Transversal (Pski's Porch Publishing, January 2020). He talks about his process and a little about the making of the books here.
J. D. Nelson: Your work exhibits a dreamlike quality. Do your dreams influence your writing?
Fin Sorrel: I've taken to recording my dream logic down into journals which I nearly went crazy over for the composition of my last four books, two of which are published: The Teacup of Infinity (self-published, 2004-2018) and Caramel Floods (Pski's Porch Publishing, 2008-2017). Both of those were my experimental stages, when I had no idea what I wanted to stick with. With this new book, Transversal, I had a balance that I finally enjoyed. Where dream language, and "reality" could merge comfortably, and I'm not exactly sure why. Maybe, I think, I've grown up, my brain has finally gelled. Dream logic is fascinating, the fact that I cannot read in a dream, or the fact that I turn to see what's behind me and I'm someone else and somewhere else completely new. It is the other side of this reality, the reality inside of my own waking state, and I'm curious to explore there. A girlfriend of mine had asked me to keep some kind of dream journal years ago, oh, I think it was around 2015 or something like that. We were living together in an abandoned house in New Orleans. So, I started keeping the dream journal and it helped my creative process in general, even if I don't use it in the final text, sometimes I can get a whole chapter, or a concept from the kind of logic that dreams I've experienced touch on. Out of it, most people think I'm high. I don't really care about the buggers.
JDN: How did you approach the writing of this book?
FS: I spoke it into being. I took four years of short fictions I had seen some success in publication and readjusted them to a new idea I wanted to speak on, literally speaking the story out, then typing, so the form in its contents becomes this sort of montage of sequences that add up to a very detailed monstrosity of meaning at the "end" of Transversal. Transversal meaning that line that connects two parallels in mathematics. The connection is the voice speaking to the reader as if from within him/her.
JDN: Which writers or artists have influenced you in the writing of Transversal?
FS: Jeanette Winterson always with her interviews, where she spoke on the technique where you talk your story out in the room, before typing it, and Can Xue with her idea of performance text. I relied mostly on my own techniques for book one, a technique I've been practicing I'm not sure if others are exploring where I take my poems and fictionalize them, a long road of drafts that I explored in depth for my characters Grizzly and me.
JDN: What else influences your work?
FS: Drugs, lots of drugs, I just read Anthony Burgess and liked it. Not a lot of acceptances roll in, so I've been secretly working my texts from behind closed doors more, the invention of the internet is a hustle, I lose track. I'm sure I'm not the only one. My work influences itself; I try my damnedest to recycle old poems, vignettes, and stories, and I try not to look outside of my own self for too much influence. Diminishing returns my ass, it just gets better and better, the more I work on a piece.
JDN: What did you set out to do in the writing of your book?
FS: I wanted to explore the afterlife with my characters, I wanted to let myself fully free, while still tense in the form of literature I have chosen to lock myself into. The death of the world, the death of the ego, the death of the self, the death of god. These are always ideas floating around, and I wanted to see what I could create with those themes in mind. I like the outcome, the book came out to my liking. I'm fairly happy with it.
J. D. Nelson (b. 1971) experiments with words in his subterranean laboratory. His poetry has appeared in many small press publications, worldwide, since 2002. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Cinderella City (The Red Ceilings Press, 2012). His poem, “to mask a little bird” was nominated for Best of the Net in 2021. Visit MadVerse.com for more information and links to his published work. Nelson lives in Colorado. He recommends Defenders of Wildlife.