Podcast Series: Darrin Doyle

Welcome to the third post of our podcast series! We are honored to bring you Darrin Doyle reading his piece “Four-Letter Word for Exchange” from our first issue. Below you find an interview with him as well. Enjoy!

To listen to the podcast, click here. *We are currently facing some technical issues with the podcast. The Podcast should be up shortly.* To read along in the free issue, click here.


PC: What’s your usual writing process like?

DD: Typing is much faster and less physically taxing. However, some of my best work has been done with pen and paper. I wrote a large portion of my novel, The Girl Who Ate Kalamazoo, in a notebook. It’s liberating to write with a pen. Somehow it feels less permanent, so there’s less pressure, and I feel like I can write anything that comes into my mind. The ideas really flow furiously. Also, when I type the notebook material into the computer, it naturally goes through an editing process; I’m forced to re-examine what I wrote, and inevitably, it is changed for the better. I always recommend that everyone write with a pen and paper (even though I don’t always follow this advice myself).


I used to have a regular writing schedule, but not so much anymore. When I’m inspired, I write a lot, and then I stop for days or even weeks at a time. I don’t recommend this habit to anyone. In general I think it’s better to write a little bit every day. However, I lived that way for many, many years, and now something is telling me to try a change of pace, and I’m not fighting it.


PC: What’s the strangest thing that’s ever inspired you to write a story?

DD: I guess the strangest inspiration was the idea for The Girl Who Ate Kalamazoo. What inspired me, initially, was the question, “Can I pull this off? Can I write a story in which an entire city gets eaten?” I wanted to make it convincing in the same visceral way that Gregor Samsa’s transformation into a gigantic beetle is convincing (Kafka’s Metamorphosis). I have no idea where the notion came from; nor do I know if I pulled it off, but I think I did. People who have read the book have told me that they actually Googled it to see if it happened.

If you read either of my novels, you’ll see that I have a bizarre obsession with eating. However, I can’t explain why this is the case. Nor do I want to know.


PC: Any favorite authors?

DD: Yes, plenty! I have a stable of classic writers – James Joyce, Richard Yates, Shirley Jackson, Franz Kafka, and Flannery O’Connor, to name a few. My other favorites are in constant flux, as I try to continuously feed my brain. A random list of my favorite authors at the moment includes George Singleton, Chris Bachelder, Alison Lurie, Percival Everett, Brian Evenson, and Kathryn Davis.


PC: What’s your main goal in writing fiction?

DD: I never think of having a goal when I write, but I suppose my main goal is to entertain. However, what constitutes “entertainment” varies widely from person to person, so I can only try my best to entertain myself when I write. In order to be entertaining with the written word, I think the main things you need are clarity, voice, and accuracy. You also need a bit of surprise, too, and characters who are fully realized human beings. I don’t mean surprise in the sense that the plot does something unexpected. I just mean that the entire “vision” of the piece – the turns of phrase, the style, the nuances of character – keeps readers engaged and interested.


PC: Are there any pitfalls you fall into and how do you bring yourself back?

DD: Writing is emotionally taxing. There’s no other way to say it. While there are many moments of laughing, excitement, surprise, and so on, the truth is that it’s a grind. It’s hard work. Cobbling out sentence after sentence and trying to build a story, a life. Trying to create characters who are as complex as any random person you could meet on the street – it’s not easy, and I don’t even know if I’ve succeeded at it yet. But that’s my goal, anyway. Plus, writing is inevitably about some kind of darkness or ugliness inside people, and this is equally distressing, even if you try to wrap it up in humor. So the pitfall is, in five words, “a paralyzing sense of desperation.” Ha ha! As to the second part of the question, I bring myself back by watching indie horror movies and episodes of Eagleheart: Paradise Rising.


PC: What inspired “Four-Letter Word for Exchange?”?

DD: This piece is one of the more autobiographical ones I’ve ever written. It was inspired by living in Japan for a year, teaching English. After our year was up, my wife and I backpacked around Southeast Asia and New Zealand for four months. It was an amazing experience in so many ways. However, as the trip neared its end, I was overwhelmed with a sensation of dissatisfaction and, weirdly, restlessness. In part, I just wanted to get back to the United States. Yet another part knew that this would only lead to more desire to travel, or more desire for something else, something hard to articulate. I think the piece ends up as a meditation on the idea of unfulfilled desire, and how we’re all existing, to greater or lesser degrees, in a constant state of this emotion. Or maybe it’s just me.

Website: www.darrindoyle.com

Always accepting 6-Word Stories!

This is just a reminder that Pure Coincidence Magazine is always accepting 6-word stories. Think you can tell a story in exactly six words? Try a few and send them over to us for consideration! They’re fun for you to write and fun for us to read. Guidelines and submissions here.

Podcast: Simon Rogghe: Reception

Welcome to the second post of our podcast series! We are honored to bring you Simon Rogghe reading his piece “Reception” from our first issue. Below you find an interview with him as well. Enjoy!

To listen to the podcast, click here. To read along in the free issue, click here.


PC: What’s your usual writing process like?

SR: It often is a voiceless feeling that builds up over a certain stretch of time, sometimes linked to a dream. As long as there are no words yet, it feels very uncomfortable because it lives as a sensation in my body. Then, usually, the first sentence arrives. To me, this is the best moment. It’s as if a blister has been punctured and I can drain the contents onto the page, letting it take the shape it wants to take. This last part is the most difficult, however, because that’s when the head begins to interfere.

PC: What’s the strangest thing that’s ever inspired you to write a story?

SR: A dream I had about Alec Baldwin trying to beat me up and rape me. At first, I incorporated it in a larger story where the dreams were separate from the main character’s waking life. After having received some comments at the workshop about dreams not working for the reader, I realized that the dream was more real than the reality, so I rewrote the story from the sole perspective of the dream.

PC: Any favorite authors?

SR: I study French 19th century poetry and surrealism, so I am very influenced by authors such as Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Breton, Desnos and Eluard, but I began to take an interest in writing after having read Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground and Goethe’s Faust.

PC: What’s your main goal in writing fiction?

SR: Since I still have no answer as to why I write, I take consolation in the fact that there are and that there have been others who do so. I really like what the surrealists said about writing and publishing: that they do it to find friends. This makes it more a matter of kindred spirits, centered on the activity itself.

PC: When do you write best?

SR: Usually in the morning, when I have the whole day ahead of me, without any worldly restrictions. Unfortunately, this rarely happens.

PC: What inspired “Reception”?

SR: The emotional spark was a dream in which I wrapped my mother in white cloth. I also had been meaning to write about some characters in my extended family in Belgium (we often gather at receptions). When I read Herman Hesse’s Hours in the Garden, the language naturally came together.

Simon Rogghe is a poet, fiction writer and translator of French surrealism and contemporary fiction. His work has appeared and is forthcoming in 3:AM Magazine, Gone Lawn, Crack the Spine and other publications. He is currently earning his Ph.D. in French literature at UC Berkeley.

Podcast: Dani Clark: Little Bombs

Welcome to the beginning of our podcast series! We are honored to bring you Dani Clark reading her piece “Little Bombs” for our first post. Below you find an interview to get into her mind and the process behind this piece! Enjoy!

To listen to the podcast, click here. To read along in the free issue, click here.


PC: What’s your usual writing process like?

DC: I write between 4 and 8 hours several days a week, sometimes I give it a rest in the evenings or on weekends. I work part-time specifically to dedicate time to my writing practice. I like to start with writing a story out longhand. Friends of mine think this is crazy because it’s so time consuming, but part of my love for writing is the physicality of putting my loopy cursive on paper. Then I type it up on my trusty iMAC and through that transcription process I’ve gone from first to second draft because handwriting formalizes the story idea, then typing it up stabilizes the story. I revise until it’s ready for readers, and revise it one or two times more after getting feedback.

Recently I’ve begun to trust myself more and do what feels right to me rather than wait for feedback from several people with differing opinions. This piece, Little Bombs, hadn’t been read by anyone other than myself before I submitted it to Pure Coincidence.

PC: What’s the strangest thing that’s ever inspired you to write a story?

DC: I once wrote a story that incorporated literal translations of my dreams into the narrative and tried to pass them off as non-fiction. They really did happen, but in my head while I was sleeping. No one believed those pterodactyls flying overhead were real though.

PC: Any favorite authors?

DC: This is one of my favorite questions, since my answer changes all the time based on what I’ve been reading. Overall, I’m a huge fan of Margaret Atwood. I love that she can write across genres and appeal to many different audiences.

My current favorite authoress is Sarah Waters. If you want to read a narrative with sexual fluidity read Tipping the Velvet or Fingersmith. She writes in this decadent style that reminds me of some of my favorite classics too, like Brideshead Revisited or Tess of the D’urbervilles. I’m impatiently waiting for a new novel from her.

I also recently finished an advanced reader’s copy of I Shall Be Near To You, which is Erin Lindsey McCabe’s debut novel. The story was so engrossing that I finished it in one night! I love finding stories I can completely escape into.

I read a lot, and I like to keep it diverse and eclectic: T.C. Boyle, Jesmyn Ward, Isabel Allende, David Mitchell, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Lydia Davis, Aimee Bender, Edward P. Jones. My list of favorites could go on forever.

PC: Why do you write?

DC: Writing is the easiest method of communication for me. I’m shy and extremely introverted, and have a hard time expressing myself through verbal communication. I like to dwell on words, mull them over before I release them. I also write because there is extreme gratification when an idea or thought I’m trying to put down is successfully communicated on the page. There’s also a wondrous sense of accomplishment when something is finished too.

PC: What’s your main goal in writing fiction?

DC: Every word I write gives me a voice. My overall goal is for people to hear me, and to understand what I’m expressing in that piece. Specific goals vary for me from piece to piece though. When writing for a large audience my main goal is to entertain. No one will read what’s been written if they aren’t enjoying it for one reason or another. Sometimes, if the issue is personal to me, I’ll know while I’m writing it that I’m only writing for myself and no one else is going to see it, so the goal there is different.

PC: When do you write best?

DC: When the TV and internet are off and at least one of my cats is sleeping serenely in my lap, rather than nipping at my feet. Distraction free!

PC: “Little Bombs” is an excerpt of your novel; tell us more about it.

DC: Little Bombs is an excerpt of the novel I’ve been working on over the past year and a half. The main character of the novel is an actress trying to garner a fan base via her celebrity to support a philanthropic cause. The two characters in this excerpt have been partners for years when the story begins. This excerpt is a flashback in which the two characters are meeting for the first time. Their relationship is secondary to the plot, but it’s important for the plot’s development, so I wanted to create a scene that expressed the excitement of their first encounter.

PC: What inspired this particular scene?

DC: This scene was inspired by a particularly eerie view of the moon one night last year. I was walking down the street, going from the subway to my apartment, and it was dusk. The moon was very low in the sky, but it was perfectly round, large, and orange. It looked like it was standing right behind the building across the street. As I walked it followed, lurking between tree branches and peeking from behind the buildings. It was the strangest moon I’d ever seen, and made me think of the moon’s reputation with mysticism and witchiness. I wanted gravitational pull and explosions for the first meeting place of these two pivotal characters in my novel. So I gave them an eerie, almost mystical first encounter with that lunar stalker and the shifting water.

PC: We got a sense of sexual fluidity in this piece. Are we correct and is this something you enjoy exploring?

DC: Yes, I included sexual undertones because I didn’t want any mistakes regarding what kind of relationship will develop between these two characters. It would lead readers amiss if I didn’t delve into their relationship entirely. I also wanted to show bashfulness surrounding the new sexual interest between them. They’re surprised to find each other, but not timid at all. Sometimes the newness of another person, or even the rediscovering of an old relationship, is sexy just because there is so much feeling behind it. All emotions surrounding sex: nervousness, expectation, wariness, fear, excitement, even reluctant feelings are raw and visceral and worth exploring.

Dani Clark (Little Bombs) lives in California. She has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from St. Mary’s College of California. She has been published in Crack the Spine, and the Western Edition. Dani thinks up stories while tuning out the sound of peoples’ voices. “Little Bombs” is an excerpt from her first novel.

Issue 1.1 has arrived! Read it now!

Pure Coincidence Magazine - Various Contributors

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