Author Archives: Jason Quinn Malott

About Jason Quinn Malott

I am the author of "The Evolution of Shadows" (Unbridled Books, 2009), host of The Outrider Podcast, and the one-time publisher and editor of the now defunct not-for-profit indie 'zine called The Project for a New Mythology. I have a BA in creative writing from Kansas State University and an MFA in writing and poetics from Naropa University's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics.

First Saturday Report: February 2019

Writing & Submitting:
I’m thinking about placing my fourth novel in the can and letting it rot. “The can” isn’t exactly the trash, but it is a trashy plastic bin I keep in the closet. So, let’s count: very first complete novel written before graduate school: The Cinnamon Girl: as awful as the title would suggest. Put it in the can. Second novel published. Third novel written: By The Still, Still Water: awful. Put it in the can. Fourth novel written: The Palace of Winds: thinking about putting it in the can. Fifth novel written: Far Nineteen: Verdict undecided, but I’m inching it toward the can.

Sixth novel is in progress and hovering around 49,000 words. Usually when progress slows like this it means I made a misstep somewhere. I either wasn’t listening to the characters, or I forced something to happen earlier than it should. One of the drawbacks to the way I go about things. I don’t outline because the I’ve “told the story” and there’s no reason to tell it again. Besides, I’d end up never following the outline anyway. The closest I ever came to an outline was The Palace of Winds because I was retelling the Jason and the Argonauts myth—and that doesn’t seem to have gone very well.

Podcast:
Finally got the last episode of the Bad Business series out of the door. That project took way too long and although it turned out to be pretty good, I’m not doing one that has me trying to Skype a third person in.

The second Outrider Live show is out, and I really like this one. First time reader Michelle Barrett battled through some nervous butterflies, but did a great job. There’s a spark there, and I think she’s got the spine and the smarts to keep doing the work and getting better. Shawn Craver’s reading from his as-yet unpublished first novel was excellent. His prose is strong and I think it’ll find a home soon. Our musical performer, Elleana, has an astonishingly beautiful voice and her song selection and arrangements are quirky and fun. I think you’ll like her.

I’ve been working on getting another live show scheduled, and plans are moving forward to do something with the poet Siobhan Scarry.

I’d planned on taking a break to plot my next move, but instead jumped right into another series. This one is Problematic Badass Female Tropes with my friend Jenn Zukowski. She wrote a seven part series for Writers HQ, and we thought it’d be fun to drink wine and discuss her essays. That should be ready for release in March or April.

Reading:
My reading pace is floundering. I’m reading some books my therapist recommended. In fits and starts I’m reading John Berger’s novel King: A street story, and I’m still carting around Jeff Talarigo’s In the Cemetery of the Orange Trees. On my lunch breaks I’m still reading The Anti-Christ Handbook: The Horror and Hilarity of Left Behind by Fred Clark (The Slacktivists). He’s still going strong with the Left Behind Fridays and I’m slowly trying to catch up.

I have so many unread books on my shelves.

Music:
I need to do some work on my music discovery channels. I feel like I’ve not found anything new and good lately.

Watching:
I think I’m going to shut down all my streaming services, take the TV and face it toward the wall. I understand the lure, and the vicious circle that TV and depression make. I’ll go back to reading during dinner, after my run, and before I have to clean up the apartment and go to bed. Or I’ll just sit and stare at the walls. Play with the cats. Surf the net.

Random Thoughts:

I don’t have any random thoughts this month. They’re kind of all focused on something. So, nothing to rant about except the usual frustrations about time and obligation. See you next month.


Outrider Live: Words and Music No. 2

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-mdsx5-a5d969

In this episode, recorded live on December 8th, 2018, we have readings by Michelle Barrett and Shawn Craver. Our musical performer is Elleana. 


Outrider Live #2 Coming Soon.

I just got the final version of the Second Outrider Live show from Heather. It sounds fantastic. Look for it in your feed on the 28th of January.


The Outrider Podcast: Bad Business Ep 6

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-eg4yg-a48678

In this, our final episode, Todd, Paul and I bring it sort of full circle as we take a look at the latest re-imagining of Raymond Chandler’s iconic detective, Philip Marlowe, and discuss Lawrence Osborne’s novel Only To Sleep. So, join us for one last ride into the dark underbelly . . . 


Bad Business Ep 6 LANDING TOMORROW!

Jut and FYI.
The final episode of Bad Business, The Outrider Podcast’s foray in crime and noir fiction will land tomorrow, Jan 15.

And thanks to the hard work of my producer, Heather, it sounds excellent. This means she now qualifies as a wizard.

Look for it in you podcast feed tomorrow.

And then, get ready for another live show around the end of the month.


Delayed: Bad Business Episode 6

Ok, so, I’m not a sound engineer and despite recording three separate tracks for episode six none of them are great. Heather is working away at them, so, please be patient.

After some self-education, I won’t be making the same mistakes and hopefully I’ll be making my producer’s life a little easier in the future.

Ep six will be out soon.

Followed by a new live show at the end of the month.


First Saturday Report January 2019

WTF? 2019 already?

Writing & Submitting:
From the outside there’s not much progress on the writing and submitting front. There is a lot of churn on the page however.

The literary manifesto is moving through revisions. A friend with a little more time and money is attempting to start up a literary journal, and we’ve been talking about serializing the manifesto there. So, that’s meant reshaping the revision process to make them fit that format.

At one point while writing things for the new fiction project, I’d cranked out something like 40,000 words just in exploration—short scenes, or bits of dialogue, internal monologues, descriptions of places or events—nothing in order and nothing connected. Most of it written in journals. I can’t remember when I finally started piecing it all together into a narrative, but it feels like i’ve been doing it for the last year or so (with some big pauses as I did a revision (again) to both The Palace of Winds and Far Nineteen). I now have somewhere over 40,000 words of a connected story, with only about 10 to 15% of that coming from the exploration text.

A friend who wants to be a writer seemed confused when I told her that I didn’t think writing was “fun” and that I didn’t do it for “fun.” It’s an urge, a compulsion, a practice for me in the way that religion is for some, or tai chi. Another friend, one who isn’t and doesn’t want to be a writer, wondered why I spent so much time talking about and thinking about how I was structuring the story instead of just telling the story. The comment made me realize that, for a lot of people, a writer talking about how a story is put together is a bit like watching processed food being made: you probably don’t want to see chickens turned into sludge and then formed chicken nuggets. You just want to eat the chicken nuggets. But for me, the process of generating a manuscript is extremely interesting—it might even be fair to say that it’s fun. In the course of my writing life over the last twenty-two years (!!!!!), I’ve written five novels—published one—and begun serious work on a sixth. I define serious work as exceeding 30,000 word barrier, which is roughly 100 pages or so (a piece is considered a “novel” at roughly 60,000 words, less than that is generally considered a novella). I have a few other projects that are sitting somewhere under the 30,000 word range and would love to get to them, but being a writer with a day job is an exercise in that old cliche “burning the candle at both ends” which is exhausting since I live alone with two cats who refuse to pick up after themselves . . . anyway . . . the point is, not every story should be told in the same way as every other story. Sometimes, the tension, the plot, the meaning of something is best revealed by juxtaposition rather than a linear sequence. Sometimes, what appears to be a simple boring story if it were told in a linear fashion (Old Joe walks across the room with the help of a cane) can become monumentally dramatic ONLY when placed in the wider context of life, but how do you present that wider context in a compact space?

In other words, what is “fun” for me is giving myself a challenge and seeing if I can pull it off. We miss so much of the human spirit if we think our triumphs, failures, heartbreaks, or losses, only happen on a grand scale or with world shaking consequences. That erases the human condition in a way. An old man walks across the room with the help of a cane . . . and for him it’s a triumph. Why? How did he get there? What happened to him before that moment? And how do you fit the life story that makes that small effort monumental to that old man into just 60,000 words? That’s why, for me, every story has to be told differently, which demands a different structure and, even, a different way of discovering the story.

Podcast:
The last episode of Bad Business is on the way, hopefully second week of January. Be on the look out. Another Outrider Live will be released sometime around the end of January.

I’m working on getting some additional live shows scheduled and recorded, so those will be landing occasionally through out 2019. Later this month I’ll begin recording another short, seven part series with my friend Jenn Bukowski where we’ll discuss her essay series on Problematic Badass Female Tropes. There’s no release date on those. Again, I’ll be recording all the episodes in advance, and then releasing is a quick burst.

The Bad Business series is good, but logistically it was a mess. It took us something like seven months to record all the episodes, there were technical problems (all my fault), and that put us behind the proverbial eight ball when it came time to the release schedule. So, please, give a big huge massive thank you to my producer, Heather Eden for her hard work. I’ve learned some good podcasting lessons and won’t make certain mistakes again.

Reading:
The current reading list:
King: A Street Story by John Berger
The Anti-Christ Handbook: The Horror and Hilarity of Left Behind Vols. 1 & 2 by Fred Clark
The New Male Sexuality: The Truth about Men, Sex, and Pleasure by Bernie Zilbergeld

On deck:
In The Cemetery of the Orange Trees by Jeff Talarigo
The Evening Road and In The House in The Dark of the Woods by Laird Hunt.
A Dance to The Music of Time: 1st Movement by Anthony Powell
The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, and Civilization by Martin Puchner.

Honestly, the one that’s really the most fun to read right now is Fred Clark’s Anti-Christ Handbook. Clark writes The Slacktivist blog on Patheos and has, for over a decade now, been doing the “Left Behind Fridays” where he breaks down a section of one of the books in the Left Behind series and explains why it is both theologically wrong and artistically bad. He is ruthless and funny at the same time. I used to read the LB Fridays, but then faded away. When I saw he’d finally collected the essays from his Slacktivist blog about the first LB book and released them as an e-book on Amazon, I allowed myself to break my anti-Amazon stance and grab a copy.

Music:
Every time I get to this section, I lament the fact that my music discovery efforts are flagging. Again, I blame the lack of a decent independent radio station, but the truth is I’ve not adopted the habits needed to consistently search places like YouTube, or music podcasts, to find new music I like. Yes, the local “alt-rock” station owned by Clear Channel is better than not having an Alt-Rock station, but fuck me I don’t like hearing the same set of songs over and over every time I put on the radio. I didn’t have any kind of opinion of bands like 21 Pilots or Hozier when I first heard their songs . . . I was indifferent until Clear Channel started playing their songs once an hour. I got in my car on four separate occasions one day, drove to work, then drove home from work (8hr gap), drove to a pub to meet friends for dinner (2 hr gap between home and trip to pub), then drove home after dinner (hour and half gap from arriving at pub and leaving pub) – – and I heard that Hozier song “Take Me To Church” each fucking time. I will never buy an album by that artist now because hearing that song is rage inducing.

I feel like I’m missing out on cool new music.

Watching:
The night before writing this, I went to see Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse. That was, I think, the best Spider-man movie so far. I never kept up with the comics after about the age of 12, but I kind of wish I had. Of course, I’m of the age where my first experience of Spider-man outside of the comics was the 1978-79 TV show The Amazing Spider-man.

Other than that, I’ve seen What We Do In The Shadows, Tag, and I’m rewatching the Showtime series Californication on Netflix.

Of those, I was most surprised by Tag, which I’d expected to be a bit like The Hangover, but it turned out to be quite a touching look at enduring, long term male friendships – especially since it was based on a real-life group of friends who’ve been playing tag since they were kids (here’s the original WSJ article that inspired the movie and a recent Bustle article with video).

Random Thoughts:
1) This year needs to be better than last year.
2) I don’t really have many close male friends and that bothers me.
3) My father would be 72 this month. His youngest son, my half brother, will be, i believe, 18 on March 15. I don’t know him. His mother hates me (and I don’t particularly care for her) and she didn’t want me to be in touch with him. Such is life. He lives in Buffalo, NY. Maybe someday, now that he’ll be 18, he’ll reach out. Our father would have liked that. He wanted my sister and me to have a relationship with him, but after our father died, our brother’s mother didn’t want us around him.
4) My new year started off with a rejection letter. I don’t even remember which manuscript it was for.


The Outrider Podcast: Bad Business Ep. 5

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-3fbg3-a246a9

In this episode Todd, Paul, and I discuss the somewhat lighter side of the genre with a look at Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice and Richard Brautigan’s Dreaming of Babylon. 


The Outrider Podcast will be Tardy: Episode 5: Bad Business

Episode 5 of Bad Business will be a bit tardy Tuesday. But never fear it’ll be with us soon.


Three Things

Three things:

1) I’ve been working on a long essay for the last few weeks (I mentioned it in the First Saturday Report). I’m watching it slowly progress to 20,000 words. Guess I have a lot to say about literature. Well, it is a manifesto after all.

2) Episode 4 of Bad Business is out. We flap our gums about James Ellroy and Elmore Leonard. We don’t like Ellroy and he might like it that way—not that he knows who the fuck we are.

3) I had a dream about my father last night. It’s been happening a lot lately, and I think it’s a pattern of forgetting. After he died, I had dreams about finding him alive in strange places, or about him showing up alive and no one acting like anything was wrong, and the dreams were about me struggling with that incongruity. Now, the dreams have changed. There’s no surprise at finding him alive in my dreams, there’s no attempt to reconcile his apparent resurrection. In the dream last night, he simply came to visit. We got Chinese food and sat on the floor in my apartment and watched TV. We didn’t talk. It was a good visit.