Saturday, August 19, 2023

Q&A with Joshua Mohr




Joshua Mohr is the author of the new novel Farsickness. His other books include the memoir Model Citizen. He is the founder of Decant Editorial.


Q: What inspired you to write Farsickness


A: Like most of us, the pandemic created an immense appetite in me to escape our new captivity. To travel in my mind's eye. I wanted to go on an adventure, a quest. I wanted it to be fun as hell, wild, splattered with fantastic, impossible images! Magical realism! If I've done my job right as the author, this crazy tale sounds like a bipolar Guardians of the Galaxy.


Q: How was the novel's title chosen, and what does it signify for you? 


A: The concept of farsickness is from the word Fernweh, which is when we're homesick for a place we've never been before. My main character starts to hear a voice at the beginning of the story, inviting him to come "home," to a castle in Scotland. But he's never been there before in his whole life. Or so he thinks. It's a picaresque adventure story with a ribbon of psychological horror.


Q: The book was illustrated by your young daughter Ava--can you tell us more about her art? 


A: As I started this project, I asked myself what would make this experience the most fun, the most meaningful that it can be. So I asked my 9-year old, Ava, if she wanted to work on the book together.


It isn't a kid's story by any stretch of the imagination. It's very dark, filled with the aforementioned  flights of surrealism. But her illustrations bring a wonderful sense of whimsy to the work. I'll cherish the experience of making this artifact with her for the rest of my life. 


Q: The writer Mark Haskell Smith said of the book, "Joshua Mohr takes you on a gloriously imagined and delightfully demented trip through the looking glass to the heart of the human psyche..." What do you think of that description?


A: I super dig that! Mark is a hell of a writer. Farsickness has the unpredictable kinetic energy of Alice in Wonderland. All sorts of madcap, "impossible" things happen in the duration of the book. This is a story about PTSD, about what comes home with us from war. I'm just choosing to tell that story in a more magical realism-y way. 


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I just sold a TV show to Steven Spielberg's company, Amblin. We wrote a super cool pilot, and as soon as the WGA strike is over, we'll get to work bringing that project to market. I miss being in the show's reality, but the strike is very important, and I'm glad to be fighting the good fight. 


Q: Anything else we should know? 


A: I have a three-book series that starts next summer, a trilogy of crime novels. They'll all be published in consecutive seasons--summer 2024, fall 2024, winter 2025. I'm having a blast with that project. I pitched it as Viking Noir, a modern-day warrior, who just happens to play guitar in a punk rock band.


I am very lucky to live a life steeped in art. In fact, I'd argue that we're living through an Era of Zero F*cks Art. The world is so chaotic, so nothing-is-guaranteed, that every artist should be honoring exactly what she wants to do. Thrill us. Dazzle us. Break our hearts, in the best way.


And if we all honor the idiosyncrasies of our imaginations, we're going to make some incredible art--and maybe, just maybe, we can help one another find dollops of joy in this confusing world. 


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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