Chuck Tingle on How Writing is Like Driving, Being an Autistic Artist, and More
The Author of Camp Damascus Takes the Lit Hub Questionnaire
Camp Damascus, by Chuck Tingle, is out now from TOR, so we asked the ever-candid Mr. Tingle a few questions.
Literary Hub: What is the place or practice that had the most significant impact on your writing education?
Chuck Tingle: chuck writes A LOT as most buckaroos can tell looking at my catalog of books. when i am really on a dang roll i will have a tingler coming out once a week on this timeline and that is generally schedule that i shoot for, along with writing novels in TANDEM way. in some ways this kind of productivity is a special talent, and i am thankful for this hyperfocus, but what i have learned over time is that DRIVING AHEAD with this much velocity at all times is not always good for me. it is not good for the art and it is not good for myself.
so PRACTICE i have learned is two parts. first is that i try to keep my internal drive STEADY but not full on. instead of pushing throttle of my trot at one hundred percent the whole time just pulling it back to seventy five or eighty percent can be very helpful. find a CRUISING ALTITUDE that works for you and realize that if you really want to be productive in your way then you are going to get more done going 75 for keeps rather than 100 percent and hurting yourself.
next practice that i have learned to go along with this is way of INTROSPECTION AND MEDITATION. used to meditate in a traditional way that most buckaroos know, but i have expanded this to just taking moments in the day for grounding and gratitude and letting my brain wander. one of my favorite ways of this practice is going on long trots or hikes especially in early hours of the day, in fact i would say this is where i get most of my “writing” done even when there is not a page page before me. these thinking times to let your brain roam are very important.
gotta spend some time with yourself if you are ever gonna get to know yourself
LH: Name a classic you feel guilty about never having read (why)?
CT: there is actually no classic i feel guilty about never reading because i strongly believe buckaroos should not feel guilt over this kind of thing. there are LOTS of classics i have never read because while i consume a LOT of art there are lots of BOOKS i have never read, it is not really my main medium when compared to music or film, which is something that i think many would feel shame about and tuck away to never admit.
but i am not really that kind of person and i am proud to say there is no one valid way to find inspiration. there is no reading list of classic works you need to read to be a great writer because we are ALL going to come at this in our own way. that is what is so beautiful about human creation. when you boil it down to the core of what you are doing when you create, its just an honest expression of YOURSELF, and how you find a way to do that is up to you.
LH: Which non-literary piece of culture—film, tv show, painting, song—could you not imagine your life without?
CT: i would say my number one most important piece of art that i always return to, and thing that is probably most influential on my writing and my existence as a buckaroo, is probably STOP MAKING SENSE the talking heads live film, and also album that comes with it. that is probably chucks number one artistic touchstone even over any book.
first as an autistic buckaroo, that movie and the subtext around it is what made me proud to be autistic like david byrne. being on the spectrum was never a bad diagnosis for me it was ALWAYS just about the coolest thing someone could be because talking heads were the coolest band in the dang world. so watching that was a real big moment for me to think “wow, what a special tradition of artist i am walking in the steps of”
but even outside of that, i think the way the show is setup is just beautiful, and the songs they picked and the way those songs are presented. to me what is says is “there is so much more to art than the medium itself, there is all the other things around it.” art does not exist in a vacuum, so it is always funny to me when buds try to seperate it from the context of the time and place. bud the context is ALSO part of the artwork, and i think you can really see that in the way those songs are presented.
LH: How do you organize your bookshelves?
CT: well as i mentioned i am not huge on traditional novels, and even when i do enjoy them it is usually as audiobook way. i have a few hardcover trots that have been collected over the years but those are NOT on my big display shelf. BIG DISPLAY is actually where chuck has my graphic novels and there are heckin TONS of those, probably several hundred. so i have a collection that is about ninety five percent horror graphic novels from all eras and all kinds of authors.
lots of classics and others that are pretty dang hard to find, and then that last bit is some romance and erotica like an anthology i enjoy called “smut peddler” which is very creative and has really interesting concepts and artwork. then handful of superhero graphic novels to round out collection but really it is almost entirely horror.
LH: Who do you most wish would read your book?
CT: i think there are going to queer and autistic buckaroos who will resonate with this book very strongly, and hopefully they will find some catharsis in my words. that is the goal really, so more than anything else i just want buckaroos who need reminding of the importance of their own unique way to find and enjoy CAMP DAMASCUS.
while i think it is valid to feel a personal excitement when your dang bully goes and reads your very successful novel, this one is not for the aggressors it is for the communities that are under attack. hope camp damascus can remind some of those buds they are not alone and that even when scoundrels are shaking their fists and gnashing their teeth they still cannot compete with the simple fact that LOVE IS REAL.
(Note: Chuck Tingle’s responses in this interview have been printed verbatim.)
Camp Damascus by Chuck Tingle is available via TOR.
Previous ArticleThe Race to Make Hollywood’s First Atomic Bomb Movie
Next ArticleThe Complicated Afterlives of