Marissa Bell Toffoli

Interview With Writer Charles McLeod

In books, fiction, short stories, uncategorized, writing on May 15, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Charles McLeod

Charles McLeod. Photo courtesy of the author.

An introduction to Charles McLeod, author of the novel American Weather and a collection of stories called National Treasures (Outpost19/Random House UK). His fiction has appeared in publications including ConjunctionsDOSSIEREleven ElevenThe Gettysburg ReviewHayden’s Ferry ReviewThe Iowa ReviewThe Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, and the Norton anthology Fakes. McLeod was born in Texas, grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, and now lives in Colorado. Since 2000, he’s held eleven addresses in eight states.

Quick Facts on Charles McLeod

  • Home: Western Colorado
  • Comfort food: donuts
  • Top reads: Some favorite books include Elbow Room by McPherson, On Evil by Eagleton, The Posthuman Dada Guide by Codrescu, The Waves by Woolf, The Mezzanine by Baker, and everything by Joy Williams and Sebald.
  • Current reads: Television by Jean-Philippe Toussaint

What are you working on at the moment?  

Edits for the California Prose Directory, edits for my second novel, and stories for my second collection.

Where did the idea come from for American Weather?

From feeling like late American consumer capitalism is a death sentence.

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

“We are to such an extent estranged from man’s essential nature that the direct language of this essential nature seems to us a violation of human dignity, whereas the estranged language of material values seems to be the well-justified assertion of human dignity that is self-confident and conscious of itself. …Our mutual value is for us the value of mutual objects. Hence for us man himself is mutually of no value.” -Marx

Where and when do you prefer to write?

I only write at home, either early in the morning or late at night.

Do you listen to anything while you write?

I don’t.

It’s been said writers can do their work from any place, where would you most want to live and write?

I’ve lived too many places to have a place.

Do you have a philosophy for how and why you write?

I write as a mode of penance for the arrogance inherent in my despair.

How do you balance content with form? How does the structure of the book influence the story?

Kandinsky speaks to this well: “All methods are sacred if they are internally necessary. All methods are sins if they are not justified by internal necessity.”

What do you find most challenging about writing?

If one were to think of any/every manuscript as a ten-page story, pages six and seven.

How have your goals as a writer changed over time?

Broadly, I think I used to write toward something that I am now trying very hard to write away from.

Is there a quote about writing that motivates or inspires you?

“For in all adversity of fortune the worst sort of misery is to have been happy.” -Boethius

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Never give up.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given as a writer?

Never give up.

Is there something that you wish people would ask about your work more often?

No, I’m pretty happy just writing.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

Reading outside, somewhere quiet, in the warm sun, is a wonderful thing.

About Charles McLeod

Charles McLeod is the author of a novel, American Weather, and a collection of stories, National Treasures (Outpost19/Random House UK). His fiction has appeared in publications including Alaska Quarterly Review, Conjunctions, CutBank, DOSSIER, Eleven Eleven, Five Chapters, The Gettysburg Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Iowa Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, and the Norton anthology Fakes.

Buy American Weather.

[Toffoli, Marissa B. “Interview With Writer Charles McLeod.” Words With Writers (May 15, 2013),]

American Weather

American Weather by Charles McLeod (Outpost19, 2012).

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