DH: Eddie who? Sorry, buddy, but I don't know who you're talking about. That pop culture reference must be before my time.
Alright, I'm lying.
Shit, I don't know. But I will say that "I Think I'm in Love" has been growing on me ever since I first learned my short story of the same name was accepted for publication in the new Bizarro Press anthology. In fact I feel a tad bit guilty now about calling that song a "turd" in the story. But, hey, it is what it is.
Now that you got me thinking about it, "Take Me Home Tonight" is a pretty tight cut too.
BP: Fun fact -- Eddie Money was a cop before he was a musician. What was Douglas Hackle before he was a writer?
DH: I've been writing stories since I was kid, so strictly speaking, that's an unanswerable question. I think I was eight or nine years old when I wrote and illustrated my first book. Bound with staples and masking tape, it's a choose-your-own-adventure story called The Dungeon of Death. I still have it. My elementary school library actually lent it out for a while, and the book's old checkout card is still pocketed on the inside back cover. Five or six kids actually checked the thing out.
Let's see, I've been a dishwasher/salad prep guy at an Italian restaurant, a worker bee in a shipping and receiving department at a clothing store, a landscaper, and a college student (received my B.A. in English many moons ago). Nowadays, I pay the bills by toiling Monday through Friday nine to five in a sort of Kafakaesque-Ligottian sea of cubicles where I churn out a certain manner of business copy.
BP: I wish I still had the book I wrote in elementary school, but it was confiscated and destroyed on grounds of obscenity. I take it The Dungeon of Death wasn't quite as graphic as it sounds? Or did they simply not bother reviewing it?
DH: Not as graphic as it sounds. For example, one of the fifteen or so possible endings is, "Then suddenly he [a goblin] throws a spear into your stomach and you die." That's about as graphic as it gets.
BP: On your blog, you claim to have been born with an extra finger on your left hand and an extra toe on each foot, "for a grand total of twenty-three digits." Are you just a freak of nature, or is that pretty typical of Ohioans?
DH: Yes, I'm a freak in that respect. Polydactylism is the medical term for it. A doctor amputated those extra digits a few weeks after my birth.
Last I heard, my amputed finger is doing alright working the stand-up comedy circuit in L.A. My two amputated toes are employed as gay ice-road-trucker mimes up in Canada. They're dicks.
BP: Do you plan to reproduce at some point in the future? Will Obamacare cover the same surgery for your polydactylite offspring?
DH: I have a five-year-old son. Unfortunately, uninterestingly, and boringly, he was born with perfectly normal sets of ten fingers and ten toes. He wants to be Iron Man for Halloween this year, but I informed him that he is going to be "The Polydactylite Offspring That Daddy Always Wished For But Never Had" instead. Homemade Halloween costumes are always the best.
BP: In his Devil's Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce defines the novel as "a short story padded" -- big words from a man who never wrote one. What's your excuse?
DH: I could probably make a bunch of excuses for not writing a novel yet, but the primary reason is I have yet to experience that sort of eureka moment where my brain stumbles upon a truly enthralling, at least semi-original, book-length story idea--the kind of story idea that would compel me to write it into being at all costs. And should such a revelation never occur, and should I eventually find myself sitting alone in a retirement home one day in a soiled pair of Depends with no novel to my credit, then maybe I'll just say screw it and write a book about my two amputated toes and their misadventures as gay ice-road-trucker mimes in the arctic. Either that or write a sequel to The Dungeon of Death.
BP: Take us through a day in the life of a gay ice-road-trucker mime.
DH: Well, it's not all that different from a day in the life of a heterosexual ice-road-trucker mime. First, you wake up early in the morning and don your white face paint and eyeliner. Then you drive your rig over countless, treacherous miles of frozen lakes and rivers, battling the harshest conditions on the planet to transport whatever it is you're hauling from A to B. When you reach a drop-off point, you take a break from the road to perform your mime act for the pleasure of whomever's working the remote outpost you're visiting and any Eskimos or caribou that might happen to wander by. The only difference between gay ice-road-trucker mimes their heterosexual counterparts is that during those long, lonely drives, when the gay ones engage in sexual fantasies their fantasies have to do with people of the same sex, whereas the hetero ice-road-trucker mimes fantasize about people of the opposite sex.
Didn't you know that? Like, duh!
BP: Heineken or Pabst Blue Ribbon?
DH: "Heineken? Fuck that shit. Pabst! Blue! Ribbon!" - Frank Booth (as played by Dennis Hopper) in Blue Velvet.
Notwithstanding Frank Booth's status as one of my all-time favorite movie bad guys, I prefer Heineken these days. But don't get me wrong, slice--I'm all about throwin' back some PBRs on occasion. I probably drink too much beer.
BP: Combine your favorite colloquialism for either "vagina" or "anus" with one of your favorite foods/kitchen appliances, spin it into a book title, and give us a brief plot synopsis.
DH: Oh, jeez...
Okay, here goes. Title: Holy Shit, Here Come the Afro-Clams Again! I Better Hide in This Old Refrigerator!
Synopsis: There's this big fucking geek named Francis who's completely and incurably terrified of women. But Francis also happens to be devastatingly handsome, so much so that he often finds himself being chased around town by large crowds of beautiful, lovesick, wanton women who want to rip his clothes off. One day a mob of these horny, drop-dead gorgeous ladies chases the poor guy into the local junkyard. He spots an old refrigerator, decides to hide inside it. Although Francis evades both capture and the experience of incredible porn-like supersex once again, he gets trapped in the refrigerator, suffocates, dies. The End.