Interview with Author Corey Mesler

Brief Bio:

COREY MESLER has published in numerous journals and anthologies. He has published six novels, Talk: A Novel in Dialogue (2002), We Are Billion-Year-Old Carbon (2006), The Ballad of the Two Tom Mores (2010), Following Richard Brautigan (2010), and Gardner Remembers (2011), Frank Comma and the Time-Slip (2012), 2 full length poetry collections, Some Identity Problems (2008) and Before the Great Troubling (2011), and 3 books of short stories, Listen: 29 Short Conversations (2009), Notes toward the Story and Other Stories (2011) and I’ll Give You Something to Cry About (2011). He has also published a dozen chapbooks of both poetry and prose. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize numerous times, and two of his poems have been chosen for Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. His fiction has received praise from John Grisham, Robert Olen Butler, Lee Smith, Frederick Barthelme, Greil Marcus, among others. With his wife, he runs Burke’s Book Store in Memphis TN, one of the country’s oldest (1875) and best independent bookstores. Visit his blog here.

1.)   What made you want to be a writer? 

I wrote my first poem in 4th grade, a silly reworking of “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.” The teacher made a fuss over it so I thought, hm, maybe a boy can be popular even if he’s not athletic. This was both foolish, wishful thinking, and deluded liberation. Then my senior year in high school I had the world’s greatest English teacher, Mrs. Reid. She turned me onto reading, and she was the first person to tell me I could write.

2.) How long have you been seriously pursuing a career in writing?

I guess I started fresh out of high school writing late-night, sad-bastard poetry and submitting to anyone who would read me. Which makes it 40 years this year.

3.) If you had to choose three words to describe your writing nook/office, what would they be?

Scattered, inspiring, safe.

4.) Where do you draw most of your inspiration from?

Reading. I own a bookstore so the accumulated wealth of the ages is all around me. In books I find my peace, my itch, my terror, and my challenge.

5.) Give us a one sentence pitch for your latest novel.

Diddy-Wah-Diddy: A Beale Street Suite is a crazy-quilt, a-historic mosaic, preferring the beautiful lie to the truth plain as a mud fence, about a near mythical place located, concretely in Memphis, Tennessee, and abstractly somewhere on the road between Rapture and Perdition.

6.) Are you an outliner or a seat-of-your-pantser?

A little of both but definitely more in the seat of your pants camp. Robert Benchley said, "I do most of my work sitting down; that's where I shine."

7.) If you could meet any author, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

I would say Joyce, but he would scare the pee out of me. Ditto Iris Murdoch. Maybe Raymond Carver because What We Talk About When We Talk About Love made me want to write prose instead of just poetry. He showed me a way into the short story. Eventually, I wandered from that path onto the one frequented by novelists. I am still not sure I belong there.

8.) If you could meet one character in your book, who would it be? Why?

Callie Pidgeon, because she is as sexy as a flame.

9.) Favorite quote/personal motto:

What John Updike said about Iris Murdoch, my favorite writer: “Our actions, our decisions, our vows do matter; what can fiction tell us more important than that?”               

10.) If you could give any advice to other writers, what would it be?

Read a lot and then write a lot and then read a lot more. Repeat when necessary.



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Belle Rêve Literary Journal is a southern literary experience. Our mission is to capture everything that makes the South and its residents unique through the best contemporary literature we can find. We publish new works weekly.