Next up in my new series of interviews to celebrate the launch of the new Gutter Books anthology ‘Waiting To Be Forgotten: Stories of Crime and Heartbreak, Inspired by The Replacements’ is David Accampo.
Name: David Accampo
Story Title: “Androgynous”
Firstly, what drew you to this anthology?
Well, I’ll be honest – Jay mentioned he was doing the anthology, and I sort of shuffled it to the back of my head, but there was a part of my brain – the part that loves writing prompts and restrictions – that kept coming back to it. “What WOULD a Replacements-themed story mean to me? What is that voice?” And this guy popped into my head and started talking to me, and it felt like something I could follow. I emailed Jay and asked if there was still room for me.
How did you first get into the band, and what was the first Replacements album you owned?
So, this is going to sound a bit corny, but the first Replacement song I ever heard was probably when that 90s band The Crash Test Dummies did a cover of Androgynous. And I had no idea it was a cover. I had liked CTD’s “Superman’s Song,” and bought the album, and I just kept coming back to “Androgynous”. Around that same time, the Cameron Crowe film Singles was out, and I was experiencing the fantastic soundtrack and learning about Paul Westerberg. And somewhere along the line to two elements collided and I tracked it all back to the Replacements and started listening to Let It Be.
How would you pitch your story to potential readers?
Billy is a guy living a dead-end life in a dead end town. He gets in fights, he drinks, gets in fights again. But it’s what he knows and he’s good with it. And then an androgynous figure comes that just sort of opens up all of these buried feelings that Billy can’t even understand. I like character who are groping around for something they feel deeply but can’t quite process.
This story aside, does music have an important influence on your fiction?
That’s a really good question. I’m not sure I would’ve answered that the same way today that I would have five or ten years ago. I mean, on the one hand, I like instrumental music WHILE writing… I like stuff that gives me a pace or a tone to match what I’m trying to do. So that hasn’t changed. But as I’ve gotten older, I think I’ve begun to look back at the music that was so powerful to me as a teenager and young adult, and I’m looking at how songs can use a rich combination music and voice – and sometimes really blunt voice — to expose rich emotional veins, you know? And that’s something I find myself wanting to emulate in fiction – it’s a different medium, but think about the songs that meant so much to you after you had your heartbroken at 18 or when you were raging against the system at 22; they remain almost a time capsule for that emotion. And I find myself unpacking that into my fiction more and more.
Apart from your own one – do you have any favourite stories in Waiting To Be Forgotten?
Oh, man… not a fair question. I’m genuinely digging all of the stories in the book. Many of these folks are friends and peers, and the talent is just amazing. But I guess the first one that comes to mind is Johnny Shaw’s “Gary’s Got a Boner” because… jeez… first, what a great title to start with, and second, he just nailed it. Great voice. Great story.
Do you have any additional publishing plans for the rest of 2016 and 2017?
My main work lately has been in comics. My graphic novel, LOST ANGELS, which I created with artist Chris Anderson is currently available from Comicker Press, and I have an upcoming graphic novel, THE MARGINS, co-written by Paul Montgomery with art by Amanda Donahue that may be out in late 2017. I’m also currently a part of the DC Comics Writer’s Workshop, which has been an incredible opportunity for me.
Finally, if you had the opportunity to put together a music-themed anthology, which band or artist would you choose?
You know, I’m almost tempted to think about an artist with fairly abstract lyrics because I think the more abstract the music the more open to interpretation the various songs would be to writers. But I can’t think of anything right now, so I’m going to go with a more convention answer and say Tom Waits or Nick Cave. Both superlative storytellers in their own right, but they each evoke such rich worlds, that I’d want to see what folks could do to spin off from those prompts.