Eckleburg: What drives, inspires, and feeds your artistic work?
Mark Fabiano: You know this world we live in pushes, almost oppresses the artistic instinct in us all. So I struggle against this “night,” this long and dark evening of the soul by getting in touch with my artistic center. Its what I was made for. Its what I can do. To take all that I am, ever was, and listen to a still soft voice within that guides me to make something important and beautiful though not always happy. I am flung, as much as I fling myself, into the act of creation. Its a high that can not be satiated through any substance. I thrive on trying to do the thing that “can’t,” or “shouldn’t” be done. I am in balance when I am writing. Otherwise, I get crabby, bitter, resentful, and downright blue.
Eckleburg: If you had to arm wrestle a famous writer, poet or artist, either living or dead, who would it be? Why? What would you say to distract your opponent and go for the win?
Mark Fabiano: Virginia Woolf. And here’s why. I would tell her that if I win then she can’t commit suicide, and has to live to write another day. As well as, teach a yearlong free workshop here at Eckleburg. This is how it might happen.
I would think that she would be not too strong, even frail, and so would move quick to put here in a half-Nelson. But then, she would get all “modernist” on me and flip my sorry butt in the water. (We are fighting in the creek, or river, where she died.) I would be surprised at her strength but I would splash back up to my feet. I’d go at her like a linebacker and this time BAM! I’d connect and she’d go down into the water.
And yet, she would flip over on top, herself now through the use of her Magical Realist powers transformed into some tough Orlando or something character and begin drowning me in the waves that splashed around us from all the rocks and fighting. I’d begin to see my maker, or at least Gabriel Garcia Marquez who would act like Obe Wan and tell me not only to use the force of Realism against her-that none of this was real and that I should get real-but he admitted to being in love with her. Thus he comes back from the dead to help me keep her alive. (He says her hair reminds him of the scent of almonds and he will wait all his life for her to come to him.)
And so, the two of us, Marquez and I, corner her now, but she has transformed into a great dragon and is ready to burn us alive, because we both know that with the prowess of her words alone, her genius will indeed fry us.
And then she stops, returns to her normal self, a bag of rocks around her waist, and almost smiles. “Listen, I don’t have time to play with you fellas. I must rid myself of the pain and this is what I am going to do. I will leave you and the world all of my writing so you can find the way. Others were there before me, Gogol, Kafka, and so many.”
And with that she dove into a deep part and sunk right to the bottom.
We watched as hundreds of bubbles from her last breath came bouncing to the top and each time a bubble burst we’d hear story ideas in her voice: “Lottery.” “Slaughterhouse.” “Solitude.” And so many others. And so we did what all great writers do. We jotted down every idea that she uttered.
Eckleburg: What would you like the world to remember about you and your work?
Mark Fabiano: I was a brilliant and prolific writer, and a nice guy who loved his family and friends and gave generously of himself.
Mark Fabiano’s fiction has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The Green Hills Literary Lantern, The Long Story and others. He was awarded an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award in Fiction for 2008. His scholarly work has appeared in Muses India: Essays on English-Language Writers from Mahomet to Rushdie, International Journal of Communications, FORUM: The University of Edinburgh Postgraduate Journal of Culture and Arts, The Facts on File Companion to the American Novel, The Facts on File Companion to the American Short Story and others. He has an MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) from George Mason University, an MA in English from Wright State University, an MA in International Affairs, Communications and Development Studies from Ohio University, and a BA in English from Ohio State University. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Sri Lanka., a setting for many of his stories and his novel, The World Does Not Know. He’s taught creative writing, literature, and more at various colleges for over 11 years. You can read more at markfabiano.com.