Novelist Grant Bailie Enters State of Flux
Considering how Night Train Issue IV author Grant Bailie intends to spend the next month, he'll have plenty of time to himself so he can write his next novel. Of course, there will likely be plenty of folks watching him do it.
Bailie, a Cleveland-based writer and artist, published his first novel, Cloud 8, in 2003 and has written two more since-- "Mortarville" and "TomorrowLand." He has been selected as one of three writers to participate in the Flux Factory, Inc. event "NOVEL: A Living Installation," which will occur in the Flux Gallery in Long Island City, Brooklyn.
According to Flux Factory, Bailie, Laurie Stone ("Starting with Serge," "Close to the Bone") and Pushcart Prize-winner Ranbir Sidhu will be locked from May 7 through June 4 in individual cubicles designed to meet the specific needs and interests of each of the writers. The three will be released for short periods each day to use the bathroom, shower, etc., but they must remain in their respective cubicles while they write a complete novel, from start to finish. Food, snacks and other supplies will be provided to them as requested.
Public readings of the novels-in-progress will be held every Saturday evening, and public viewings/press briefings will be held at other times each week.
Flux Factory says that "NOVEL takes the isolation of the writer to a rather extreme conclusion in order to investigate what will be produced under those conditions. But, just as writing is solitary, it is also a performance. The writer, sitting alone, is always conscious of an audience, whoever that may be. NOVEL combines the private and public aspects of writing in a striking way. The goal for NOVEL is to facilitate the production of quality fiction and explore the act of writing itself as a performance, installation, and kinetic, living sculpture."
In his final moments before becoming living, breathing, writing "art," Bailie agreed to spend his precious final Internet moments with Night Train Associate Publisher Tom Jackson, sharing his thoughts on his writing style, the upcoming month and its challenges:
TJ: You're in this thing because you're already an accomplished novelist, with Cloud 8, and the upcoming "Mortarville." Did your writing process differ from your first novel to your second?
Bailie: Accomplished seems like a bit of an overstatement, as does "upcoming" as I haven't found a taker for that one yet. The process has changed some, gotten slightly more controlled; I am able to say more now and get out of my own little life more too, but not enough yet I think. I am still working on it.
One of the reasons I am excited about doing this Flux Factory thing: I have felt for a while now that the main problem with my books is that they were written with too many interruptions�sneaking a few minutes at work here, or a few minutes before American Idol at home there. It throws things off. Messes with the voice. It's like waking up repeatedly through the night while trying to continue the same dream.
It will be nice to immerse myself completely for a change. At least I think it will be nice. Maybe it will be horrible.
TJ: Now, how much of a change to your usual writing technique do you imagine this isolation cube to cause? And do you mind if I ask you that question again in a month?
Bailie: A lot, I think. I love TV and the Internet and all of that, but they are terrific distractions. And I love my family, too, and while I wouldn't insult them by calling them a distraction, I will say that my wife and kids make it much easier to do something other than writing.
I see myself, this month, as kind of a secular monk, laboring for the glory of Art. Note the capital "A" there.
But certainly, ask me again in a month.
TJ: Are you entering the isolation cube � or dome or whatever it is � with any preconceived notion of what you're going to write?
Bailie: Yes. I have an idea, and I have been dreaming about it for the last couple of weeks. Nearly every night I dream about working on it, fixing it, screwing it up. I am itching to start this thing. But dome? It won't be very dome-like, I suspect. I have seen a picture of it in progress, and right now it looks a little like a gallows.
TJ: In the Night Train press release for Issue IV, we described Cloud 8 as "a witty and touching debut novel about the afterlife." Tell me more about the other books you've written.
Bailie: I have two books after Cloud 8 and before the one I am writing this month. One is a novel proper called "Mortarville" and the other is a novel improper called "TomorrowLand."
I am very bad at describing my own works, but let me see what I said in one of my failed attempts to sell the things:
"TomorrowLand" is a book of stories that tell one story�a novel in the sense of "Winesburg, Ohio" or "Trout Fishing in America"�it is the story of the invention and illusion of life, the comfort and disappointment of dreams and the ephemeral nature of hope. Through a series of interconnecting pieces we meet the world of tomorrow�a world with the requisite flying cars and moving sidewalks, but it is also a world where the flying cars stall and rust and the moving sidewalks break down. Nothing truly new is under this or any of the universe's suns, but generations sleep for a decade and dream of great fires and what they will build from the ashes.
"Mortarville" is a novel about invention, identity and the invention of identity. Jack Smith is a man created immaculately by science, raised by television, lab technicians, soldiers and, briefly, a gorilla in hidden labs and secret government homes. He is released at last into a world of rust, frustration, chaos and necessary employment. Or he is only a man who remembers things that way�giving his mundane current existence, the sheen of a special past. Working in his job as a security director of a failing downtown mall, he has his preternatural flashes of memory, and from these scraps, he pieces together this Frankenstein's Monster of a history. His history. And its fiery end.
Like I said, these are my failed attempts to explain myself and garner interest. I am not very good at that stuff. Maybe that's the other reason I am taking part in the Flux Factory project. At least there will be something concrete I can say with this book. I can say, "Here is the book I wrote in a box."
TJ: Well, I'm sold. And I can't wait to read what you write next. After you get a chance to get reacquainted with your family, would you be willing to take the time to talk to Night Train again?
Bailie: I'd be happy to do a follow up interview, and thanks again for the opportunity.
You can purchase copies of Cloud 8 through Amazon or through Ig Publishing.