Interview with Josh Vogt

josh 08Josh Vogt’s story, Even Songbirds are Kept in Cages, appears in the Art Issue of Shimmer. To learn more about Josh, please visit his website or drop him an email!

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE STORY:

Where did the idea come from?
The mockingbird lady came from a blurry photo I took at a museum showcasing some odd sculptures. One sculpture was a woman in a black dress with a bird’s head. After staring at the picture for a few days and consuming lots of jellybeans, the idea and I decided we had a working relationship (though entirely platonic).

How did the story change as you developed it?
It didn’t change in my mind because I didn’t plot it out much before writing it, so I had no preconception of the finished story. Of course, there were plenty of revisions, but the core of it remained the same.

You know the advice “Sometimes you have to kill your darlings.” Was there a scene or line that it really hurt to cut, but cutting it made the story stronger? May we reprint that scene or line? Or link to a very old version so that we may marvel at how much it changed?
At first I wanted to parallel the story to the nursery rhyme, “Hush little baby.” I sprinkled what I thought to be clever line references throughout the story, but later took them out because they were became distracting and confusing.

How is this story like your other work? How is it different?
It’s similar in that I enjoy mixing the ordinary with the weird. Either ordinary characters in strange worlds, or, in this case, a strange character mixing up a modern household. It’s different because I think it comes across a little more surreal than most of my stories so far.

ABOUT WRITING:

How long had you been submitting before you made your first sale?
Four-ish years.

Do you work with a critique or writers group?
Somewhat. I have several friends who read over material for me from time to time, plus I am involved with Critters.org, an online critique site that specializes in science fiction, fantasy and horror. It is incredibly well organized and a great way to not only get a mix of solid feedback, but to also sharpen your editing skills on other works.

What authors, if any, have had the most influence on your work?
C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Neil Gaiman, Ray Bradbury, Orson Scott Card, Ursula K. Le Guin, Terry Pratchett and Dean Koontz. That’s the short short list.

Favorite short stories you’ve read recently?
Ray Bradbury’s classics, “The Wind” and “Banshee” always give me shivers.

RANDOM QUESTIONS:

Do you believe in ghosts or the supernatural? Why?
I believe in the supernatural, yes. I’m a Christian, and so I believe in God, His miracles, and enjoy the sense of wonder and hope this brings to life.

Fast food: Yea or Nay?
Naw. I’m on a cooking kick. Opening a can of tuna counts as cooking, right?

Name one place in your hometown that you love to go to and would recommend to others to visit.
I consider Colorado my home, even though I’m working out in NYC for now. So, go see the mountains! Especially when the aspen are turning golden.

Is there anything that you would “sell your soul” for?
Hmm. Considering my first fantasy short story I ever sold was about a shop that sells souls, I’m seeing a bad pattern here. Maybe I should take my soul off the eBay listing.

Do you have a secret skill that you never get to show off? (i.e. ambidextrous writing, blood-curdling screams, double-jointed, badminton
champion…)

I can turn invisible. See? Wait…

Quiz: How many writers does it take to change a light bulb? Please explain your answer:
Depends on how many plot twists are in the story.

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