Mike Fiorito Artist of the Month

ABP- Thank you for taking this interview Mike. Your short story collection “Freud’s Haberdashery Habit” has quickly become one of Alien Buddha Press’ most successful titles. Do you have a personal favorite story from the book? What made you decide on that title?

MF- Red, thanks for giving me the opportunity to be interviewed. And thank you for publishing the collection. It’s really been a fun ride and great to see people reacting so positively to the work. I think the “Freud’s Haberdashery Habit” story is my favorite, although “Florence Knows” is a close second. I’ve been trying to work on story titles. A friend of mine said that it’s better to think of titles as being a poetic reflection of a story, rather than a summation of a story. By the way, the original title of the collection was “Gnostic Hounds.” You suggested the collection title and I was like yeah that’s much better.

ABP- Who have been your biggest inspirations as a writer over the years?

MF- I saw the movie “Barfly” – about Charles Bukowksi – many years ago. One of the things that really stuck in my mind was that no matter what Bukowski was doing – drinking, fighting, mooning – he was always writing. And what’s more, he was constantly mailing in his manuscripts. Even after a night of degenerate drinking, he’d manage to slide an 8.5×11 envelope into the mailbox. That was very inspirational. And he was writing all of the time. This stuff doesn’t happen by magic. As writers, we’ve got to sit down and do the work.

ABP- Tell us about some of your past works. Is there anything you are working on now?

MF- “Freud’s Haberdashery” represents one kind of writing that I’ve done which I would call historical satire. There are a few genres other that I seem to gravitate towards. I like to write science-fiction or speculative fiction. I have a number of speculative fiction stories placed in publications like Mad Swirl and Long Shot Island. I was a philosophy major in college. I guess I write these stories to explore my interests in science and consciousness. I also have written a lot about growing up Italian-American. The origins of my Italian-American writing go back to when I moved to Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn about fifteen years ago. At that time, it was still a very Italian-American neighborhood. There were still many Italian bakeries, salumerias and specialty stores. And I would hear Southern Italian dialects on the street. All of this really lit my imagination on fire. I began writing fictional stories that were based on the people and places I knew. Many of the stories, unlike the speculative fiction and historical satire, come from direct experience and are from the heart. Some of these stories are comical – an uncle who thinks he’s Tony Bennett. But some of the stories have a confessional quality so they’re kind of terrifying to write. But my feeling is if it moves me to write, it might be moving to other people to read. I’ve placed many of these stories in a terrific magazine called Ovunque Siamo (meaning Wherever We Are). I am thrilled to have discovered Ovunque Siamo. Perhaps non Italian-Americans could care less about the Italian diaspora, but Italian-Americans are very interested in the subject.
I’m working on two collections at the moment. One collection is soon to be published by Alien Buddha (early 2019). This collection extends on “Freud’s Haberdashery,” but goes even further. The stories revolve around how psychedelics hold the key to saving humanity! Imagine that! Like “Freud’s Haberdashery” they are generally comical, but have serious philosophical questions at their core. The other collection I’m working on “Crooners” is a mixture of fictional and non-fiction stories that focus on the Italian-American experience. I don’t yet have a publisher for this collection, but I have queries out.
My hope is that, if I write what I love, maybe readers will come along with me for the ride.

ABP- What is your writing environment like? Do you have a specific setting or routine?

MF- It’s funny. I write everywhere. I often write in the notepad on my mobile while I’m on NYC subways going back and forth to work. I’ve completely stopped using pens. Then I do a lot of writing after I put my seven year old, Travis, to sleep. My wife, Arielle is a teacher. Many nights, while she sits across from me on the other couch working on her plans and developing teaching materials, I’m quietly clicking away.

ABP- Would you like to tell anything else to the ABP and small press audience. An anecdote? A piece of writing? A message you want to get out there?

MF- I want to reiterate how thankful I am to Alien Buddha Press. It’s absolutely fitting that a publisher called Alien Buddha accepted and published my work. I’ve always considered myself an Alien Buddha: far out, a little crazy, but ultimately out to save the universe. Ha ha. But really. Presses like Alien Buddha that have the guts and independence to publish experimental writing. The established presses and academic magazine publish the same boring and empty writing over and over. And no one reads that stuff. Alien Buddha takes a chance on publishing far-out writers that push the limits of subjects and styles. For this, I feel incredibly grateful.


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