Blogs by David S Grant
The Silverthought Interview
8/4/2006 3:59:22 PM
Silverthought Press interviews David S. Grant, author of Corporate Porn...
Becci Noblit Goodall: David, I gotta tell ya, this book was addictive! The main character Trevor is a generational everyman. He and his friends are all people we’ve had beer with or sat next to in a cubicle. I can’t wait to read your upcoming new works and I’d really love to see a sequel to Corporate Porn. Is there any chance that Trevor’s story might continue? No matter, if your upcoming stuff is as good as Corporate Porn, you can count me as an avid fan. These days it’s exciting to find new talent.
David S. Grant: Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it so much.
BNG: I loved the character names throughout CP, particularly the way you weaved normal names with Hollywood type names. Trevor, Tequila, Ethan, Lance, Mr. Allen, Cricket… Can you tell us a bit about the process of naming in your novels? Do you ever write a character without a name or does the name come first?
DSG: Before I start a novel each character in my head has a specific face. Based on the face and personality I'll give a name. If I want someone to trust and believe I will assign a more frequently heard name, like Kevin or Tom. Trevor is a relatable every day type name, after the first paragraph most can relate to Trevor. We all have Trevors in our daily lives. Tequila is quite the opposite, you have expectations, but rarely know what this person (character) is capable of. Using the name Mr. Allen was a way for me to signify that he deserved respect without a paragraph of wasted space. Typically this is how I name my characters, other times, I just use names of various strippers.
BNG: Throughout Corporate Porn it’s clear that you have a good grasp of how mundane the corporate world tends to be. You depict a place where employees are obsessed with ties and copy machines. Often, the most ridiculous detail receives the highest degree of attention, while important deals are sloppily put together. In addition to this level of absurdity there is no sense of personal loyalty. Do you think this is the key to a generation’s lack of commitment to the workplace? Is it a two-way street or is it more heavily the fault of one or the other? Have you personally experienced the slog of office work as it shows up in CP, or is this book completely based on what you’ve observed from others?
DSG: Unfortunately (and fortunately for my writing) I've spent the better part of the last ten years in these environments. People trapped all day in a cubicle surrounded by little mementos to help get them through the day. A coffee cup with their name, a sign that reads I HATE MONDAYS. A blue pen that reads IDAHO. This is what matters most to the general office population; the actual jobs are meaningless daily tasks oftentimes repeated over and over. The flipside is management. Trying to make these people feel needed and not used as is often the case. Management is oftentimes nothing more than a sales force for the company, not necessarily selling a product, but the concept that working for the product is worthwhile. The language used is disposable and their theories recycled. The general office population is disgusted with their superiors. Rebelling. They're moving jobs, taking their pens with them to another company where they can continue their meaningless tasks repeated over and over.
BNG: In CP we find Trevor semi bemused with his state of expendability:
“After our second beer, I call Jim again. He doesn’t answer, so I have him paged. When the secretary finds out who I am, she tells me that Jim is not taking my calls. Not taking my calls? Six months of daily conference calls, cross-country meetings, and thousands of emails, and he’s no longer taking my calls?”
Do you get a sense that the American worker has become an extension of our throw-away society? You portray a workplace where one can be a rock star for their 15 minutes of fame (read project, OT, etc…) only to find that they’re nothing but an annoying message or voicemail. Is this what the corporate world wants of us or is it something we want? Do we want to be obscure enough in our own lives that watching game shows and drinking beer is enough? Is the mess of the corporate world more of a two-way street?
DSG: Don't knock drinking beer and watching game shows to pass the time unless you've tried it. It's right up there with a challenging puzzle, a book club, and having a "coke" night with someone else's stash.
Today, people change jobs like Tim Allen makes bad movies. I think this happens for two reasons. The first is that people do go for the "rock star" image initially only to end up back at their cubicle reading emails regarding the break room clean-up policy. As a whole, the passion in corporate America is gone; most go home to their passions, whether that be family, going to the gym, a hobby, or watching game shows.
Secondly, my generation grew up with the "Just Do It" attitude. We have short attention spans, no loyalty past a week, and very little patience. Having a bad day? Fuck it, quit. It's not like Tim Allen
only made one movie about Santa Claus.
BNG: How long did it take you to write CP, and how many times would you say you revised it overall?
DSG: The jotting down of ideas and letting the ideas churn in my head took around six months. The actual writing was approximately three months with a lot of revising along the way. Editing as I go allows me to keep the story fresh and assists with "call backs", which often adds a dash of humor to my writing.
BNG: When did the idea of CP come into being? Was it a particular event or frustrating job?
DSG: I have no idea. I wanted to write a story about a job gone awry and then in my head I had this corporate-porn connection going. My job is always frustrating, but that had nothing to do with CP. Sorry, this is an awful answer, next question.
“Finance people bore me. It’s rumored that Barry once owned a Pontiac Sunbird that had more rust than paint and was towed to the dealership. When the salesman told him he’d give him $1000 trade-in value, Barry demanded $1010 because there was still half a tank of gas in the car. These are the people I’m dealing with here, and every response has to be politically correct. I’m doing pretty well today. I wouldn’t consider today’s performance great acting by any means, just okay. More of a Butt Woman series caliber performance, by no means top notch.”
This is one of my favorite parts of CP because it speaks to what I see as the ailment of American society. Everyone seems to be out for themselves in a “PC I’m the A list star of this B movie" kinda way and nothing is actually interesting because no one is doing anything spectacular because they’re too busy pretending they aren’t spectacularly boring. Whew! Did I get that right? Can you speak more about this? Is this what you intended, or have I read CP all wrong?
DSG: That's exactly why I made the connection between the corporate world and pornography. In today's age both the work environment and adult movie industry are both very "throwaway" in my eyes. Bringing the two seemed logical and after I continued writing I was able to make some disturbingly strong links between the two. Every day is a performance and eventually some become the person they are portraying, their new personality crafted by others. The thing I find strange is how no one questions this anymore. It's as if the corporate world has gone Hollywood and everyone is okay with this.
“I watch the Game Show Network (GSN, to us regular viewers) in my crawlspace of an apartment and eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I’m wondering whether I will ever have a chance to launch my idea for a game show where the contestants don’t wear pants. Probably never work. Maybe Stoned Scrabble. The phone is ringing, so my dreams will have to wait.”
I enjoy the way you allow Trevor to just go with the random thoughts we likely all have whether it makes him look silly or not. Do these random thoughts come to you as you're writing or do you plan them out? In other words, are you “in character” when these pop up or do you sit and plan them out?
DSG: Despite having ideas written down before I begin to write, most of the silliness comes through when actually writing. This is especially true when writing dialogue. I find myself in my head having the actual conversation. I also find that I like to have my characters point at each other, smoke, and say the word "f***" a lot. Those things aside, those silly thoughts are what life is. Everyone talks about work, family, and vacations as part of a person's "life", but it's the internal conversation of how much jelly is too much on a PB&J that really defines a person. Okay, I'm getting way too deep here, next question.
BNG: Give us a piece of writing advice. Anything. Tell me your best writing habit (if you have one). Will there be a sequel?
DSG: Read a lot and write about what you know. I'll stop with two clichés.
Write down your ideas. Ideas come and go, but a good idea may be gone forever if you don't make note of it. Whether it's a snippet of dialogue overheard while waiting in line at the methadone clinic or a funny word you come across in The New York Times, write it down. You may use it later or it may trigger something else that will inspire you to write.
Above I mentioned write about what you know, which I do believe, but also write how you want. Obviously you want to keep the story you're telling moving along, but how you do this is up to you. Personally, I embrace minimalism. I guess this comes from reading. For me, I don’t enjoy explaining the layout of a room and would rather detail how someone is chewing their gum, the brand of cigarette they smoke, or that they have a nickname of “Detroit” because they lean when they drive. Again, that's just me. Having an idea allows you to begin a novel, but finding your style is what helps you continue. If you like music: include lyrics. Poetry? Incorporate it in your novel. As with life, there are only the boundaries you create. Write for yourself.
A sequel for Corporate Porn? Not on the radar as of right now. Blackout, my next novel, is a sequel of my first novel, Bleach, which will be re-released the same time Blackout comes out (both through Silverthought Press). I've also got an idea for a novel where a devoted fan sacrifices an aging rock star to generate buzz. After that, I may write children's books.
For information on upcoming projects, you can check my Silverthought page and go to: http://www.davidsgrant.homestead.com
BNG: David, it’s been a pleasure reading CP and your ST shorts. I look forward to Bleach and your other upcoming works.
DSG: Thank you for your time.
BNG: For anyone who’s not read CP… you don’t know what you’re missing!
David S. Grant is the author of Corporate Porn, an alcohol and sandwich fueled romp through the darker side of corporate America and the lighter side of the adult film industry. Corporate Porn can be purchased at http://www.silverthought.com/davidgrant/
Check out his website: http://www.davidsgrant.homestead.com
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