Five Questions with Cian Cruise
Will McCarry: I enjoyed your flash entitled “Dramatis Personae” which appears in our most recent issue of NANO Fiction. As the title suggests, it takes the form of a list of characters, mimicking a prelude to an ostensibly nonexistent play. What about the form of traditional play writing are you confronting by casting the dramatis personae as the actual work?
Cian Cruise: First off, thanks! Secondly, by focusing exclusively on fragmentary, sketchy character details in Dramatis Personae, the piece relies on the reader’s imagination to do a bunch of the work. I provided a few key nodes, and hinted at a limited set of possibly pregnant connections between them, but how they play out is up to you. It invites the reader into the creative act similar to the collaboration between playwright and director. Now that you have these characters, this scaffolding, what are you going to do with them? Where do they take you? I like to think this highlights the essential connection between author and reader, in prose, where the text is a conduit for shared imagination.
WM: From what we’ve seen in “Dramatis Personae” I was unsurprised to find that you earned a degree in Film and Media Studies. How has this interest shaped the way approach prose and storytelling in general?
CC: It’s made a lot of my prose more visual, and helped me develop a sense of rhythm, structure, and dialogue that is somewhat alternative to strict literature study. When I watch a good movie, one that really gets me going, I hoot and holler like a bit of a maniac. It’s that visceral punch that I want to bring to prose, and that respect for tight structure that (I hope) informs my storytelling.
WM: Given your interest in many different forms of media including theater, film, and prose, I was surprised to see that the about section on your website claims that you don’t like music. What is it about this particular art form that doesn’t appeal to you, or what aspect of the others do you find more engaging?
CC: Oh man, yeah I hate music. I don’t know what it is. People often assume that my parents didn’t expose me to any when I was a kid, but my dad was in a rock band and my mom loves the Stones, so it isn’t that. Straight up: music just doesn’t move me. I feel nothing from it. Sometimes I “use” it to block out noise, but that’s not really appreciating it, it’s not even listening. What’s worse, whenever I’ve been around shows, and I can see that positive emotional feedback loop between an audience and a performer, I experience this profound alienation. So I tend to steer clear of the stuff.
WM: Who are the writers (flash fiction or otherwise) that you most admire?
CC: This is one of those questions that I’ll have to do off the bean, since dwelling on it only makes it worse. A quick list’d have to include: Alan Watts, Georges Bataille, Anne Carson, James Joyce, and Hugh Cook. Albeit for completely different reasons. And the Henry Miller who wrote Colossus of Maroussi. And Steven Erikson. Sorry, I’ll stop there. (Okay, Herman Melville.) (Oh man, Djuna Barnes.)
WM: What’s next for Cian Cruise? What are you working on now?
CC: I’m just putting the finishing touches on a fantasy novel (basically Harry Potter meets Rambo), so I’m debating the agent hunt vs. self-publishing paths. Otherwise, I’ve got some essays online at The Bygone Bureau, and I’ve been flogging open submissions wherever I can find them. I’ll be heading to Oxford, in the fall, to hang out with some buddies: a neuroscientist and a mathematician. With any luck the comparison won’t make me feel like I’m wasting my life.
Listen to Cian’s story from NANO Fiction 6.2 below. Purchase a copy here.