Shane Jones Interview

Shane Jones is the author of the marvelous Light Boxes, The Failure Six, A Cake Appeared and more.

SK: What cartoons or television shows did you enjoy as a child?

Shane Jones: I was really into He-Man. There's a picture of me as a child and I'm sitting with all my He-Man figures, vehicles, and even the castle gray skull. Do you remember the castle gray skull? I think you could talk into it and it made your voice sound really creepy, like Skeletor. Skeletor was such a great bad guy because he had a certain humility. He wasn't just pure evil, even though he looked the part. I wish I could think of more, but I'm a little hung over right now.

SK: What kind of toys did you play with?

Shane Jones: I think I just answered your first question with what should be my second answer. I'm really blowing this one. Ummm, I pretty much had everything. My mother bought me a new toy each week, after my weekly tap-dance lesson. Jesus, I sound like some rich kid, but I wasn't. I remember digging a massive and intricate series of trenches through the backyard for my G.I. Joe figures. It was impressive. I think I did that after my daily tea time with mother.

SK: Did you make up any games?

Shane Jones: I had an imaginary friend who I only talked to when I was going the bathroom. It was the only time he appeared, always in this one corner near the tub. I forgot his name. I'd have really long conversations with him. I remember building a tree-fort that got so big the neighbors complained. There was this one part called the "Yo Board." The Yo Board was a flimsy piece of wood spray painted orange and it said Yo in big letters. The game was you had to sit on the Yo Board and bounce up three times without it breaking. It was terrifying. It never broke. If it did break, you'd probably fall to your death.

SK: Did you have a fort?

Shane Jones: I did it again. My answer is above. I built a lot of tents out of sheets and pillows. Me and my friends had a game called Sock War where we threw balled up socks at each other. Sounds kind of lame, but it was so much fun. You can really throw a balled up sock.

SK: When did you first write?

Shane Jones: I think I was 15 and wrote a poem called "House of Hades." The last word in each line rhymed. Mostly "Dead, Head, Bed, etc." It was really dark.

SK: What books got you going back then?

Shane Jones: The earliest thing I read was Emily Dickinson, which lead me into a bunch of poetry. I had a really strong reaction to Anne Sexton. I still do. I read her poems and they were so wild, so vulnerable and just insanely creative. I loved her. I'd read her poems and try to create the same kind of raw feeling.

SK: Did you like school?

Shane Jones: No. I never liked school. I was so average at everything it was depressing. I actually finished 200 out of 400 in my graduating high school class. I always finished exactly in the middle of everything. In gym class, they'd put me with the shitty players for basketball, or flag football, and I'd be the best. Then they'd move me to the really good kids, and I'd be the worst. Always in the middle. Insanely average. I think I'm saying the word "insane" a lot in these questions.

SK: Have you ever been lost somewhere?

Shane Jones: Is this a philosophical question? Or like, actually lost somewhere. I feel like a lost person most of the time. I don't even know what I'll do after I'm done typing this email.

SK: What kind of secrets were there then?

Shane Jones: Well, I'm a secretive person. I hide things. I can be sneaky. This is something I've tried to work on, because I'm married, and no one wants to be with someone like that. The worst secret, when I was a kid, was when I stole one of my mother's rings. I don't even know why I stole it. She couldn't find it and I never told her. I just kept the ring and looked at it a lot. It was a terrible and great secret that I had it.

SK: Was your recent tour fun?

Shane Jones: Lots of fun. I got to meet some freaks. The turn-out was pretty low in most cities, but that's okay. Just the idea that someone would take the time to come see me read is really flattering, even a little uncomfortable. I would do it again, for sure, but not anytime soon. I only did like 7 readings, in six cities, and was exhausted.

SK: What please more about the novel you're finishing now?

Shane Jones: I recently finished a draft of a novel. It's much longer than Light Boxes and more messy and dreamy and violent. It's a more dense and challenging book compared to Light Boxes which I think is kind of simple, but in a good way. The book deals largely with imagination and insanity versus reality, and how those things can be interchangeable.

SK: Doesn't Adam Robinson bleed beautifully?

Shane Jones: He does. I saw him punch a poem once and his fist hit a wall. His knuckles bleed this liquid of sapphires and emeralds. It was bizarre. He smiled and offered me and some others to drink his beautiful blood. No one had any.

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