Q&A with Curtis James McConnell, author of "Concerning That Whole God Thing, appearing in the Third Flatiron anthology, Universe Horribilis

Fall 2013

Q. Can you tell us a little what your story, "Concerning That Whole God Thing," is about?

A. It's about macrocosms and microcosms and how they interact. It explores the possibility that "infinite regress" might not be a mere mathematical abstraction. Can't you just hear the rampaging excitement in a blurb like that? Stand back while thronging zealots of readers say, "Enough of the interview, let me at that thing that's not just a mathematical abstraction."

Q. How did you come up with the idea?

A. I wrote the original version of it in seventh grade. I forget what it was called then, but God didn't enter into it. Back then there wouldn't have been a message for the reader beyond, "Wouldn't it be cool if there were an infinity globe and a guy had one?" Now, the reader factor can factor either the existence or absence of God into the infinity globe scenario and develop his own ideas about how that changes things.

Q. What is your inspiration for writing as a whole?

A. The classic dodge here is to say, "That's a good question" while I stall for time. However, since I'm writing these answers it doesn't matter how much stalling I do, I still don't have a good answer. For me, writing isn't an inspiration so much as it is a chronic, nagging cough. I only write (or in this case rewrite) those stories that won't let me sleep. They persist in nagging at me until I write them down. "Here, now you exist. Now leave me alone so I can get some sleep."

Q. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

A. I grew up in Texas, then visited all fifty states. Alaska wins. Hawaii is boring, so it gets ranked at 25. I've done all sorts of glamor jobs--secret shopper, dealer in a casino, standup comic, 911 operator--and found them all to be unglamorous. I still get to stat stories with, "When I was onstage at the Comedy Store," or, "One time I was dealing blackjack and..." so, it was worth it, but at the time they were all a grind. If asked, I'll tell how I came to be BB King's half blood-brother.

Q. Where can listeners find more of your work?

A. I just got a royalty statement from alfie dog dot com. Not a single download last quarter. Reminds me of the time in Oregon when I placed dead last in the Coos Bay Laugh-Off comedy competition. Literally every other entrant went to the finals. Alfiedog has several of my stories. I'm certain at least one of them is worth downloading, honest.

Q. Any new work we should keep an eye out for?

A. Bluewood publishing dot com just brought out "Coffin Drop." I signed off on the cover art months ago. I thought it was already out, but no. I wrote it years ago as well, a full decade before James Cameron went to the bottom of the ocean. I'm told I should sue him, but I'll let it slide for now.

Q. (And just for Juli's curiosity) What are you reading now?

A. Believe it or not, Hugh Laurie wrote a book before he landed House. I just finished The Gun Seller. Amazing book. I tend to read several books at once, depending on my mood. This week's batch includes The World Treasury of Science Fiction, The Oxford Book of the American Detective, a collection of Irwin Shaw's short stories, a collection of Ray Bradbury stories, The Wreck of the Essex (the true account of the whale attack which inspired Moby Dick, written by the first mate), and No Country for Old Men. I love finding new authors, so now I get to burn myself out on Cormac McCarthy.

Q. Thanks a lot, Jimmy! We love your stuff!