Mallory Whitten currently lives in Ohio. She has two books published with Monster House Press, titled Collected Poems and Short Stories & God Box. She has additional writing published online with Muumuu House. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I think in my first book I often wrote about things that I had been scoffed at for thinking were funny, but possibly viewed them as funny because if I didn’t they would be extremely sad. I don’t think I have enough space from my second book yet to view what mood it portrays to others rather than how the content makes me feel. I hope it feels like realness.
How is God Box different from your first book? What has changed in your life since then? And how have you changed?
God Box was a result of writing because it felt necessary to get through what I was going through, while Collected Poems and Short Stories was more documenting and sharing.
Things that have changed in my life since the first book include being clean and sober for 3 years, seeking help for mental illness, trying to be a better person every day, traveling more, strengthening old relationships and creating new really fulfilling relationships, having more meaningful relationships with women, having a step sister, getting a dog, enrolling in school and dropping out then enrolling again, caring about the environment more, reading less, seeing more people in my life on heroin, being increasingly paranoid about people in my life dying, living by myself for extended amounts of time, living in community temporarily.
How did being a part of the Muumuu House community influence you as a writer?
Being published by Muumuu House influenced me as a writer in that it made me feel connected with other writers and it helped me to see value in my writing. I think Muumuu House also motivated me to write more because Tao supported my work a great deal by publishing it, which felt really nice. I think Muumuu House and Bear Parade were some of the first websites that I got into reading when I found out about people having writing like this published on the internet so I am sure it influenced me in more ways than I am realizing. Shout out Muumuu House, thank you.
What is the first book or poem that you felt you really related to?
I think the Cancerian part of me has always wanted to be able to relate or at least feel sensitive to whatever someone is talking or writing about, so trying to recall a particular book or poem feels impossible. I know that as a child I really enjoyed The Giving Tree and The Lorax a lot. I related to the illustrations in Shel Silverstein books because they were dark while funny and chaotic.
In a 2014 interview with Hobart, you said that you would just write down everything that had happened in your day when you got home. Do you still do that? How essential are these records to your writing process?
There was a period of time growing up that I was afraid if I didn’t write something down I would forget it, and that one of the things I forgot would be an essential piece of information that I would need or want to remember in case something bad happened or someone died. This felt like a chore more than fun. Thankfully I don’t do this anymore. There was also a period of time when I was going to Kent State University where I would get home from partying and write down everything I could remember, once again slightly out of desperation, in case something would be fun to write a story about and I also do not do that anymore. I think what changed was that I started trusting that my brain would remember pieces of information that would be important in the future.
Somewhat related to the last question: many of your pieces, like “Ball Day”, “Kary” or “Knife Girl” for example, are these tiny, seemingly inconsequential moments of the past, usually childhood, that you bring to the light. Rather then letting them just disappear, you make them infinite somehow. How do you make these events that happened years ago feel this way, like they’re still current? Is that how they feel to you?
When I wrote stories such as Ball Day, Kary, etc. they felt really beautiful and sad and funny to me whether or not they had happened at all, recently, or in the past. I think if they came across as infinite it could relate to the habit I had of documenting things with all of my memory power out of desperation of forgetting. At the time those stories did feel current or significant to me still. When I read them I can recall the feeling I had when they happened or when I wrote them like how some smells give you a time traveling feeling.
The moments you write about capture this very specific mood that I can’t quite put my finger on, but at the same time, it’s so distinctive to you. How would you classify it?
Damn, I have heard this often. I think in my first book I often wrote about things that I had been scoffed at for thinking were funny, but possibly viewed them as funny because if I didn’t they would be extremely sad. I don’t think I have enough space from my second book yet to view what mood it portrays to others rather than how the content makes me feel. I hope it feels like realness.