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Eric Cline

The Last Listener, fiction, Issue 21, December 1, 2012


Get to know Eric...

Birthdate? You know that American president who publicly proclaimed to have a certain set of values but then didn't live up to them? That guy? I was born during his administration.
When did you start writing? As a child. But I stopped, started again, stopped, started again. I finally started up again in earnest in 2007, after fortuitous life events gave me the time I needed to write.
When and what and where did you first get published? Potpourri, a now-defunct Midwestern literary magazine, circa 1989. It was an instructive thing. It was the first thing I had submitted as an adult, and I thought that meant I had arrived. I then submitted about six or seven other stories to other publications that got form letter rejections. It discouraged me, and shame on me for letting it discourage me. If any aspiring writer wants to know what it takes to get published, I laid it all out in this short post on my blog:
What themes do you like to write about? Living a humane life in a world where the rewards for doing right are mostly internal, rarely external. My characters are often damaged people, but the best of them (and I alternate between happy and sad endings) grow to realize they can still live and function, even with their damages.
What books and/or stories have most resonated with you as an author? Why? How do these stories and their characters find expression in your work? Although I write mostly in genre fiction right now, I feel (to paraphrase Brian W. Aldiss in his book Billion Year Spree) that the world outside of Sci-Fi and horror fiction was just as important as the world within them. A group of American authors from the 19th century are foundationally important to me: Hawthorne, Poe, Melville, Bierce, and Twain. They didn't treat the human condition as a terminal disease, or as just a terminal disease. That said, I do also like some writers who are currently, you know, alive. Here is the oddest compliment I have ever paid to an author: I was reading Edward P. Jones' Pulitzer prize-winning novel The Known World when I simply stopped, one-third or one-half the way through. The reason? It had so excited me about what writing can do, that I simply had to re-balance my spare time to spend all of it writing, rather than both reading and writing.  I re-balanced again a few months after that, making more time to read, but I can't go back to The Known World, because I feel I would get too excited and stop again!

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