Q. Hi Mercedes. What do you call your new publishing venture and where can we find it?
A. Hi John - Bench Press is now open at http://benchpress.co.nz/
Q. What type of literature will you be publishing?
A. The kind with words.
Q. Are you looking for submissions?
A. I’m always interested to look at what other writers have been doing.
Q. I see you have also recently published a number of books on CreateSpace. Can you tell us a bit more about them and provide the links?
A. I’m a person who learns by doing, rather than by thinking. I wanted to know more about publishing, so I did some. Hammer & Anvil Press had published 3 of my books in Kindle editions, and now Bench Press is taking on the paperback editions.
After The Danse is a collection of poems and short stories first published in various editions of the online literary journal Danse Macabre. DM’s editor, Adam Henry Carriere, has become a good friend as well as publisher of Kindle editions of my work.
Numeralla Dreaming is the book I wrote to say Thank You and Goodbye to the place I lived for 25 years. I started writing there, just seven years ago.
Food 4 Thought collects poems about another interest of mine, food.
Looking for Kerouac is a Creative Non-Fiction romp through America and memory. It made me laugh, to write it, so I hope its readers laugh as well.
Ono is a long poem about New Zealand, about home and the endless journey there.
Tasseography is just for fun - my mother and grandmother used to read the teacups, and although I’ve never taken it really seriously, I wanted to make sure their meanings weren’t lost to others.
And the big one - the new book I’ve been working on for almost three years - is Bravo Charlie Foxtrot. This is a reworking of the thesis I produced for my MA, a collection of poems that tells of life in New Zealand, growing up in the 50s and 60s. It’s told from different points of view, at different times, and moves from my parent’s first meeting to my mother’s death sixty years later, touching on the things that make a life memorable. I hope to release the book soon - have a launch party planned in March but I may start selling copies before the official launch.
After the Danse by Mercedes Webb-Pullman
Numeralla Dreaming by Mercedes Webb-Pullman
Food 4 Thought by Mercedes Webb-Pullman
Looking for Kerouac by Mercedes Webb-Pullman
Ono by Mercedes Webb-Pullman
Tasseography by Mercedes Webb-Pullman
Q. This is a bit like asking a mother which is her favorite child, but which of your books are you proudest of and why?
A. They all have their good points, as well as their weak points. I guess. My favourite is always the next one.
Q. You've been writing for some years now. What part of writing do you find the most difficult?
A. Stopping. I like to get into the ‘zone’ and keep going, and I resent having to leave it for things like answering a telephone, a door, an email ...
Q. What's the most fun thing about writing?
A. When someone else reads you, and gets it.
Q. Do you have any unique talents or hobbies. Apart from writing of course?
A. I made stained glass panels for decades; before that I made clothes from hand-spun wool, colouring the wool with natural dyes and weaving the fabric on a hand loom.
Q. Who is your favorite writer and why?
A. Thomas Pynchon at the moment. I think because he has a huge mind, so the world he imagines is vast.
Q. Are you influenced by any other writers?
A. Always. I’m rereading Gertrude Stein’s collected writings and lectures at the moment. I’m fascinated by the way she used sound. I usually try to write following the style of writers I admire, to get a feel for them. I’m also reading Hunter S Thompson at the same time. Great contrast.
Q. What can readers who enjoy your books do to help make them successful?
A. Tell their friends about them, read them in book groups, ask their library to stock them if they can’t afford to buy one themselves. Spread the word.
Q. What can we expect from you in the future?
A. More words! I have a poetry book about Jean Genet, all finished and looking for a home, and a half-finished novel set in New Zealand. I’m also working on a collection of short dark stories which so far have set themselves in the 50s and 60s.
Q. Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?
A. Keep writing. Learn from what others are doing, but keep writing. Submit your best work, and don’t be affected by a rejection.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
A. I’d like to say Thank You to you John, for your constant support. You believed in me when even I had given up. That kind of support is pure gold, and every writer needs it.
Q. And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your work that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:
A. Ah! Called on to perform at the drop of a hat? Dear me - here’s a little from one of the dark stories written in second person - You’ll have to read Finding God for the end of it!
You’re late to the pub, only a half hour until closing; a roar of voices breaks in uneven waves. In your corner they’ll all talking about Darrel. He’s become a God-fearing non-drinking Christian. They mourn for their comrade as if he had died.
“We’ll never sneak in the back here for a Sunday session together, ever again - he’ll be over the other side of the road, drinking blood!” Montey would miss being able to scrounge a flagon in the desert days before payday, was the general consensus of opinion. This was starting to feel like a wake. Poor way to start the week.
“What happened to shine the light on him?” You’d been called away on Friday for an urgent cash job, had just got back.
“He said he prayed to God to save him, and he did.” Rex stares at his empty glass, then back up at you suggestively. You buy him a beer, another for yourself and one for Dave who was two minutes behind you on the road and should arrive any minute.
“Save him from what?” You’d served with Darrel during the war. Not many of you came back Christians. You knew whatever had changed Darrel’s mind had to be something special.
Rex savours the first sip delicately, before pouring half the glass down in one throat-open go.
“Ah!” rubs his belly “Yes, it was on his way home from work on Friday.” You work at the freezing works with most of these men; you, Darrel and Dave are on the same shift. Darrel got away first, you remember, because Dave got that call about the tow truck job, cash in hand for the two of you, and you organized picking up the truck before you raced off into the dark to get it.
Dave shoulders through to your corner, orders another round before he picks up his beer. He nods to Rex.
“I was just saying how Darrel came to God last week.”
“Strike me! How did he die?” Dave puts a hand on his heart and bows his head for a moment. Sometimes you think he lays it on a bit thick. He’s young though, a game little devil. You’re teaching him to fly.
Thanks for that Mercedes. It has been a pleasure to catch up with you and find out what new work you have out on the shelves. ~John Holland~