A Conversation with Shane Allison by Gavin Atlas

Shane Allison is a poet, fiction writer and anthology editor.  His most recent erotica anthologies include College Boys and Hard Working Men, both from Cleis Press.  His new collection of poetry is titled Slut Machine and is available from Queer Mojo Press.    

What is your favorite thing about being a writer?

My favorite thing is coming up with a really great idea for a poem or story. I like the feeling of that in my head.

Is there an overarching theme to your poetry?  Or your stories?Or an overarching message to your readers?

Well, sex of course, but there’s greater things than that going on in the writing. I don’t want people to think that I am just out here to shock. That’s not my intention at all. I don’t think about that sort of thing when writing. I like to try new things and experiment a lot.

Is there a character from any of your stories you’d most like to trade places with? 

No, but I like to inject myself in other people’s stories.

How do you feel about the concept of“love at first sight?”

It depends on what it is at first sight that you love. I don’t really believe in that. That kind of stuff only happens in movies.

What is your favorite poem by someone other than yourself and why? Also, what is your favorite poem by you and why?

That’s a big one. There is a poem by Ginsberg called Please Master that I love. I like his sexual poems more than the political work, but his stuff is great. One of my favorite poems is a piece I wrote called “Kin Folks,” which was something I wrote after a conversation with my alcoholic uncle about people on my dad’s side of the family knowing about me.

I think you once said that the gay community needs to protest more and be more politically rebellious to achieve its goals. Is there anything political about your writing?

I’m black and gay. LOL Can’t get any more political than that. I should have my own flag.

What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing? 

I never feel that the dialogue is just right. Getting the dialogue stuff down is like trying to make a cake. You have to make sure you have all of the right ingredients. Prior to 2001, I had not written fiction in eight years. I was afraid to approach fiction. I used to get very frustrated about writing it.One time I literally cried because I felt I was doing something wrong.

How much does reader response to your writing mean to you?

I read a review in which the reviewer said my stories are always mean. It didn’t bother me. I grinned at it a little.Sometimes I feel like being wicked and sinister. I don’t like being called inappropriate. Next to the word ‘catheter’, ‘inappropriate’ is my least favorite word, but it is what it is. People’s responses to my work matters.Whether they dig my work or not. No such thing as bad publicity.

If there was a biography about you,what would the title be?

People Are Starting to Talk about You.

Awesome. What goals do you have? For your writing and for other aspects of life?

My biggest goal is to do something in film. My dream is to make a short film. I would like to move back to New York. I have this fantasy of having a nice apartment in Brooklyn overlooking a busy street. I’m dressed in all white, sitting in front of my typewriter. My goal has always been to take my writing to the next level.

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