Today we're talking with Philip Gaber, author of Epic Sloth: Tales of the Long Crawl
FQ: Let me preface my question with a statement: I am a fan of your work! How is it that through the myriad of dark moments you write about, there seems to be a silver lining of humor surrounding the situation?
GABER: I suppose it’s just a coping mechanism. It’s how I deal with my life. Plus it’s a whole lot healthier than drugs and alcohol.
FQ: Have you ever had a person you know press you to admit he or she was the subject of the piece you wrote (and if so, how did you respond)?
GABER: Not really. I think because my kind of writing is so patchwork and such a big old melting pot that it’s almost impossible, even for me, to point to a character and say, “Oh that’s so and so.” The characters are such composites. I do have one friend who believes I base all my female characters on her, but I’m not really conscious of that. Maybe I do and don’t even realize it.
FQ: Your style is very conversational, yet fragmented. Is this intentional or simply your “writing zone”?
GABER: It’s both. The result of reading so many plays, I suppose. I’ve always been fascinated by the stage and always seem to take away a lot of life lessons from drama. More so than any other kind of writing. I’m unusual in that respect. I also like the idea of taking some of those playwriting tools and incorporating them into prose. I definitely have writing a play on my bucket list.
FQ: Your bio references “...seemingly random series of occupations...” What was your most fulfilling occupation and why?
GABER: I worked in the restaurant industry for several years. When I look back on all the jobs I’ve held, that’s the one that really stands out. Got to love restaurant folks!
FQ: In line with Question 4, would you mind elaborating further about your “...instructor role for an organization whose vision is for all people in its region to have the opportunity to develop to their fullest potential through family-sustaining employment...”?
GABER: I’m a career educator. I prepare people for entry or reentry into the workforce.
FQ: When writing Epic Sloth, is there a particular piece that was extremely difficult to write and if so, what did you do to overcome the discomfort of writing it?
GABER: If by “difficult” you mean, was there ever a time when I was overcome by emotion while I was writing something? I can’t recall an instance when that happened. For me the difficulty is proofreading, editing, paring down, shaping, etc.
FQ: My overall interpretation of your work is a consistent delivery of a life lived with intention and filled with ‘street-wise’ experiences. What words of wisdom would you impart on today’s youth to enlighten them and guide them safely along their journey toward adulthood and why?
GABER: Consult yourself. You’re going to get a lot of advice from people who don’t have a clue who you really are or what’s best for you. Most of that advice won’t apply to your life, anyway. Just look at these people and smile and keep it moving.
FQ: I find it difficult to zero in on one particular piece in your body of work because your overall delivery sparks so many emotions. However, my interpretation of “he had a few things to sort out” struck me. While I interpret many of your writings as sneak peaks of who the writer behind the pen is, it seemed as though you divulged some clarity toward who you truly are as a person. You point out: ‘Itzhak was a fraud…’, yet by the end of the piece (and Itzhak’s passing), you, along with many ‘...came by the half dozens in the rain to remember him...’ For me, it was as though you divulged you often have a ‘crap detector’ when first meeting people; yet you implement a ‘benefit of the doubt’ philosophy to size them up. Is this fairly accurate?
GABER: I just like to get to know people. The good, the bad, and the crazy! Listen to their stories. Learn about their perspectives, philosophies, their lives, where they’ve been, where they’re going. Out of curiosity.
FQ: It was an absolute pleasure to read Epic Sloth. I’m hoping you are working on your next writing adventure. If so, would you care to provide a bit of a preview?
GABER: Thank you! Currently working on a novella with a more linear and sequential plot-line.