ABP- Thank you for taking this interview, Leah. 18 months ago, Alien Buddha Press had the privilege of releasing your Novel ‘Bastard of a Poet’, a coming of age tale about estranged family and Los Angeles, amongst other things. What can you tell us about Bastard of a Poet? What went into the writing of it, and how do you feel about the book a year and a half later?
LM- Originally, I planned to write “Bastard of a Poet” as a short story, but after a few pages, it became obvious that I needed to write a book. After all, this is a coming-of-age tale about meeting my father in 1970s Los Angeles. It’s written from the perspective of a 50-something woman who finally realized that her inauspicious visit affected every relationship she had later. Still, I like to think my tale of deception and disappointment has a humorous side. Nearly two years later, I value the book’s honesty, but I’d like to edit it and remove some of the adverbs.
ABP- Tell us about your new book, ‘Cocktails at Denny’s’
LM- “Cocktails at Denny’s” is a half-and-half word salad bar/buffet of poetry and prose. I’ve spent most of my life moving from one place to another, so the tone is nomadic. Have you ever wanted to get in a car and just drive and drive until everything is a blur in your rearview mirror? I’ve felt like that most of my life and behaved accordingly. The book is a chronicle of some of my adventures.
ABP- Do you have any other projects we should know about?
LM- I’m taking a bit of a break from publishing to focus on the three (!) books I had published this fall–“Cocktails at Denny’s” (Alien Buddha Press), “Misguided Behavior, Tales of Poor Life Choices” (Czykmate Press) and “Death and Heartbreak” (Weasel Press). I’m lining up as many featured reader gigs as I can, in my hometown (Tacoma, WA), as well as Everett, WA, Portland, Cleveland, and Seattle.
ABP- Who are your biggest influences as a writer?
LM- Diane Wakowski, Sylvia Plath, Don Marquis, Jack Kerouac, Richard Siken, David Sedaris, Charles Bukowski, Richard Brautigan, Kurt Vonnegut, and William Styron. Just to name a few. Those are the first writers that popped into my head, because they created heartfelt work that moved me and affected the way I arrange my own words on a page. There are many others.
ABP- What do you have planned for 2020?
LM- Writing, writing, and more writing. It’s a tough time for my husband Russ and me, since he was recently diagnosed with stage four cancer. He had to leave his job and we will be moving to Bisbee, Arizona next year. Writing is pretty much the only thing that keeps me sane right now.
ABP- You are an admin on the facebook group ‘Poetry Feast’. What can you tell us about that network? Do you plan on keeping it a social media endeavor, or could you see yourself branching out into online or print zines?
LM– I started Poetry Feast in 2014 as part of NaPoWriMo and it has been sputtering along ever since. I’m frankly surprised that the group remains popular, since I haven’t been paying as much attention to it during the past year. Many folks have really poured their hearts and souls onto that little page. At this point, I’m not really certain about the page’s future, so I’m just keeping it on Facebook. For now, anyway.
ABP- Thanks again for taking the time for this interview, Leah. Please share anything you’d like with our wordpress viewers; be it a shoutout, an announcement, some poetry, a short story, anything at all; the floor is all yours.
LM—Oh gosh. What to say? Buy my book, “Cocktails at Denny’s.” It’s 15 bucks including shipping if you PayPal me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact me about my other books at that same email address. I promise to have a real, honest-to-gosh website early in the new year. Meanwhile, here are my social handles: www.facebook.com/leahmuellerwriter and www.twitter.com/leahsnapdragon. And finally, here’s a teaser poem from “Cocktails” to get you all salivating:
I bought him
“It’s not apathy,
Two weeks later,
he lost the shirt,
said he didn’t care.
under the bed,
of dirty underwear,
dumped the laundry
hamper on the floor,
but my search
came up empty.
“I never liked
that shirt anyway,”
he told me.
His sallow face
not to care either.
It was only