Epiphany: William Trevor began his adult life as a sculptor and later described his writing as chipping away at a block of marble. Are you a chipper or a builder? In other words do you chip away at a block of writing, or are you more methodical, building up the block brick by brick?
Jean-Luc Bouchard: I think it’d have to be a combination of both, though in my case I don’t so much methodically build as gratuitously upchuck. If I separated my process into two steps, it would probably look a lot like throwing clay at the slab, tenfold that amount of time spent in prodding and carving until I’m left with something usable.
What was your first publication?
My first publication was a short story about a professional suicide note writer entitled “Assisted Living” published in Umbrella Factory, September 2013.
Five books you are reading or thinking about now?
An Obedient Father by Akhil Sharma, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, Fallen Words by Yoshihiro Tatsumi and No-No Boy by John Okada
If you had to inhabit a fictional world, what would it be (i.e., the environment of which novel or short story or poem)?
This is a difficult question, since I pretty exclusively read depressing fiction, but I’d have to say the world of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation—simply because I could see myself being happy as a dude with a super obscure historical niche working on the Encyclopedia Galactica.
Most interesting day job you've had (from the perspective of a writer)?
I briefly worked (out of necessity) at an honest-to-God pyramid scheme, where I was actively encouraged to lie, berate, and emotionally manipulate teenagers for profit. Once, I asked if I could leave early for Passover, and a supervisor replied, “No. That’s like Jewish Halloween, isn’t it?”
Novels? Short stories? Which do you prefer to write?
I’m currently working on draft three of my first novel, so I don’t have much experience on the matter, but from my experiences thus far I greatly prefer writing short stories because they are SHORT and CAN BE FINISHED IN MY LIFETIME.
One sentence of advice regarding writing?
When you write something that makes you feel uncomfortable, you better believe that’s a path worth exploring.
Your story title: was it your first choice?
Yes! It was the first decision I made in my story, and one of the few bits of writing I never overhauled completely.
In a nutshell, what are you working on now?
A novel, a video game, a couple stories, and a ragtime composition.
What's an interview question you've never been asked that you wish had been?
“What fictional protagonist do you most identify with?”
Jean-Luc Bouchard is a writer living in New York City and a graduate of Vassar College, where he studied English, music, and Asian studies. His writing has appeared in [PANK], apt, Specter, NANO Fiction, The Molotov Cocktail, on BuzzFeed, and in other publications. His story “Rhythm Hit” was included in Odd Type’s All Our Misdeeds anthology. His short story “Arm in Arm, March On” was the second-place winner of the Joust story contest at One Throne magazine. When not sleeping, he plays piano, performs stand-up comedy, admires unreliable narrators, and drinks coffee mixed with tea. He is working on his first novel. He can be followed on Twitter @jlucbouchard and his work can be found at jeanlucbouchard.com.