Come See our New Website

Monday, December 1, 2014

Behind the Masthead: Alex McElroy

Happy Cyber Monday! Our FREE, LIMITED TIME gift to you: an interview with international editor Alex McElroy.

Leslie Verdugo: If asked by someone else, what would you try to do to get out of the question about your position as International Editor at HFR?

Alex McElroy: I would simply say that I select and edit international work. If pressed on the question, I will artfully avoid answering and put questions to the interviewer.

LV: What has been the most interesting part of your time as an editor?

AM: I have been lucky enough to meet a few of our translators one-on-one, connecting with them, sharing a beer. More generally, I love bringing work that is widely read and respected in other countries to an American audience, giving it the recognition it deserves.

LV: Now as a writer do you have a ritual for when you write?

AM: I do have one. So I take one of those Nature Valley granola bars—meaning one of the two bars—and eat it while writing and drinking coffee. I always leave a little coffee in the mug when I’m done writing for the day, and the next morning, I pour fresh coffee over the remaining coffee, to create continuity. I don’t wash the mug until I finish a story. But eventually the coffee puddle is chunked with aged granola. Which is gross, and probably why I write a lot of flash fiction.

LV: Where would your writing go if it grew legs?

AM: My writing would relocate to the storm drains, where stray cats live. I pass these strays quite often, when I go for a walk; the stray, those rusted storm drains, they’re a source of great inspiration.

LV: Which writer, past or present would you share a milkshake with?

AM: Not Hemingway. And maybe—but no. Not Kafka. He “Fletcherized” when he ate, meaning he’d chew each bite about 700 times. I wouldn’t have time for that. I think I would go with Robert Walser, a German modernist poet. I love how he sees the world. He would definitely appreciate the absurdity of two grown men sharing a milkshake. And afterward, I’m sure he’d insist we go for a walk. He was a notorious walker; in fact, one of Walser’s best stories—my personal favorite—is called “The Walk.”

LV: What was the first story you ever attempted to write?

AM: As a kid I wrote this comic book series called Undercovers. It was about a boy who was made miniature, for undisclosed reasons, who must navigate the world beneath his covers. He befriends a monster named in Lint. Lint looked nothing like lint. He resembled a stick figure with a Pac-man head. Lint was comic relief, there to make fart jokes. Really, Under Covers was about being a stranger in a strange land—and flatulence.

LV: So in the show How I Met Your Mother Ted Mosby has a particular stubborn idea that he can pull off wear red boots despite the naysayers. Now my question is do you have a pair of red boots metaphorically speaking?

AM: I think I’m a great singer, but I haven’t seriously sung in front of anyone since I was sixteen. Maybe I’m great—but most likely, I’m tone deaf.

LV: What gives you strength?

AM: Bench presses and squats.

LV: Let me rephrase that. What gives you strength as a writer?

AM: As a writer, I’m driven by some unhealthy obsession to prove myself through language. But it’s unclear why, or to whom, I need to prove myself.

LV: How is your kitten?

AM: Helen? She’s great, but she loves Allegra, my girlfriend, more than she loves me—Helen, to clarify, was my birthday present. The only one-on-one time Helen and I get is in the early morning, when she’s hungry, or in the afternoon before Allegra comes home.

LV: Where are you going after graduation? What’s next for you?

AM: Out of Tempe, out of Arizona.  I’m applying for fellowships. I might work on an island off the coast of New Hampshire. I might just go pick olives in Greece.


Alex McElroy’s work appears in Indiana Review, Gulf Coast, Diagram, Passages North, Tin House, The Millions, and more work can be found here.

No comments: