Joseph Fazio has published stories in The Iowa Review, Post Road Magazine, The Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. New work appears regularly on his website, josephfazio.com. He was awarded an artist fellowship by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for his fiction and lives in Boston.
Here, he speaks with interviewer Dana Diehl about a Kinks song, what kids get up to when grownups aren't around, and the advice we'd give to our characters.
What inspires your writing? How does a story begin for you?
Often, it’s just an image or some small moment that serves as an entryway. A good first line. The usual sort of thing. “The Lid of Hell” started as a cool title inspired by a lyric in the Kinks song “Lincoln County.” Thanks, Dave Davies. “The New Boy” was based on fuzzy memories of an actual crime that made local headlines 30 years ago.
As I write this, I also recall that “The Lid of Hell” is a kind of twisted homage to the Andre Dubus story “The Doctor” (both stories prominently feature a child in mortal danger and a garden hose).
Both “The New Boy” and “The Lid of Hell” are about children who meet tragic ends. Both have characters, also children, who could have prevented the deaths but didn’t. What drew you to these storylines?
I’ve always been drawn to stories about kids in peril, or about what kids get up to when there are no grownups around, which sometimes means emulating the worst in adults. And I certainly remember with guilt cruelties I committed when I was a child. I suppose in some way these stories are about confronting that.
If you could give advice to one of the characters in these stories, what would it be?
Stay inside, take up the guitar, and practice obsessively until it’s time to leave home.
If your writing was an animal, which animal would it be?
A cat circling a place to rest. Or a cat yakking up a hairball in the dark.
What is something you are working on now (writing or otherwise) that you are excited about?
I recently created a very simple website to publish the imaginative “things” that make up the bulk of my writing lately. It seemed like a good idea: publish new works on the website regularly, and maybe at the end of each year compile them into a print edition. Those who want to read more can visit josephfazio.com.