On his website, Rolli describes himself as: “a lowly author/illustrator with luxuriously thick hair”. My first impression upon meeting Rolli online, was of a unique, never-before seen, creative. He is an original, in expression, style and form. Rolli’s stories truly give me a happy “perplexed” feeling. The best description I have is : Rolli’s writing leaves you with a sense of “wanting to know more”. I asked myself while reading : “Is there really a message here?” and continued to the next, most entertaining, short story. I highly recommend this book.
On to the interview:
How would you describe yourself using the letters b, h, g and p?
Agoraphobe. It took six minutes of my life, to think of that.
Tell us your latest news?
A few books coming out. Wait – four. Three are digital kids’ books, picture books. The fourth is a print/digital short story collection, of course for adults, due in 2014. It’s called I Am Currently Working on a Novel.
When and why did you begin writing?
Seriously – never mind the casual years, the unproductive years – seven years ago. It was children’s stuff, in the beginning. After a year, I gave that up, and tried my hand at the “serious” stuff – poetry first, and then stories. Though I’ve recently, in the last year, taken up the kidlit reigns again.
What inspired you to write God’s Autobio?
I don’t recollect. I only recollect writing a story about a tiger who eats academics – that’s “Von Claire and the Tiger,” the first story in the collection. The rest came trotting along behind it.
I’ve read a few excerpts of your writing online and in God’s Autobio. I find it quite original and entertaining. How would you describe your style?
I don’t know. I have a lot of emotions. When people say “style” they might really mean “emotion.” A stylist is just an emotional person.
How did you come up with the title?
Well, I wanted to name the collection after one of the stories. The “God’s Autobio” story isn’t necessarily the most representative story. But it is a brazen title, an eye-catching title. Short fiction really doesn’t sell. It needs all the help it can get.
Is there an underlying message in your short stories?
Possibly. Probably. I’m not sure.
Are some of the experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Always. When writing a novel, alas, you can’t say what you please, not unless you really enjoy the odor of courtrooms. The joy of short fiction is that you truly can say what you please about people – because they’ll never read it. The freedom is unimaginable.
“Nay, Sir, it was not the WINE that made your head ache, but the SENSE that I put into it’
‘What, Sir! will sense make the head ache?’
‘Yes, Sir, (with a smile,) when it is not used to it.”
― James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson
What books have most influenced your life?
Hmm. Don’t know. My favorite is Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson. I’ve read it … ten times, maybe. I’d usually rather reread a favorite book than a new book. To avoid disappointment.
What book are you reading now?
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’m just finishing up a new children’s story, called “The Ice Whale.” Here’s the first paragraph:
“There is nothing so wonderful, in summer, as water. When the sun is monstrous, when it is like a fiery octopus, one can slip into a pool, and hide for a time. A cool drink is even better; it is like pouring a lake down one’s throat, and the cold fish swimming to one’s fingertips. Ah, but there are places, there are whole nations, where there is little cool water, and so very much heat….”
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Hmm. No. Wait – completion, maybe. I’m full of ideas. When something is half-written, or three-quarters written, and I know how it will end, and the challenge is gone, I feel like throwing it aside, and starting something new. In fact, I often do.
Who designed the cover?
Well, I’m sure someone did. I don’t know offhand. I forget nearly all names. The image itself I discovered online, and passed along to my publisher. An old vagabond (the figure, not the publisher!). I thought it looked like Charlie Chaplin.
I see you write children’s stories, a totally different genre. How do you switch your mindset?
Typically – when I’m sad, I write for adults, and when I’m not sad, I write for children. I’m doing mostly children’s things these days. I’m a staff writer for knowonder!, a kids’ magazine, and send them a few stories every week. But the cradle may fall, when the wind changes.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Keep breathing. No one’s going to do it for you.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I’m really pleased that you exist. I hope that we can peacefully co-exist for a long time.
What items go with you at all times?
My valise. And my almonds. I’ve already promised myself that, if I write a third book of stories, I’ll call it A Valise Full of Almonds.
If you had to give yourself a “theme song” what would it be and why?
Hmm. Anything with a harpsichord.
If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
Again, I’m put in mind of the valise, and the almonds.
What makes you laugh?
Very little. Practically nothing. My stomach?
If aliens landed in front of you and, in exchange for anything you desire, offered you any position on their planet, what would you want?
I’d really just want to do what I’m doing. But for lots more money.
Email or Snail mail?
I wish there was something quicker.
What was your favorite childhood game or toy?
Solitaire. Even though I didn’t really know what I was doing.
To purchase God’s Autobio follow this amazon.com link.
Rolli writes – and illustrates – for adults (Hayden’s Ferry Review, New York Tyrant, Rattle) and children (Ladybug, Spider, Highlights). He’s the author of GOD’S AUTOBIO (short stories), PLUM STUFF (poems/drawings), and two forthcoming titles: LIONS EAT VEGETABLES! (picture book). He is currently working on a flash fiction novel.
Last but not least, some reviews: