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Interview: Jason Erik Lundberg

This busy bee (writer, editor, Nine Inch Nails fan...) has just published four(!) new books. He talks to Clara Lim about what he does and doesn’t believe in.

By Clara Lim | Nov 07, 2013

  • Interview: Jason Erik Lundberg
    Jason Erik Lundberg

My path in life has been fairly linear. I have wanted to be a writer since I was seven. Most of my choices since then have been in support of this goal.

This persistent emphasis on money, money, money at the expense of almost everything else, including happiness, is anathema to my sensibilities.

If your head is so far up your ass that you can’t bother to show the slightest shred of human empathy or kindness, then you are utterly wasting your time on this earth.

I like to think of myself as a classy, reasonably sophisticated guy, but fart jokes just crack me the hell up.

I write literary speculative fiction, which is set in a place that looks an awful lot like our world, but one that is slightly off-kilter, so the fantastic is possible and metaphors can become literalized.

I was a teacher for four years and the principal was shocked into silence when I turned down a promotion in favor of fewer working hours.

The most difficult part of my day job (as literary fiction editor at Epigram Books) is actually finding the time to read manuscripts.

Writers never get a break. The times when I’m not directly writing or revising, I’m still constantly thinking about the current work-in-progress, and counting the minutes until I can get back to it.

I’m a Humanistic Buddhist, in that I treat Buddhism more as a life philosophy than a religion. I don’t necessarily do a lot of chanting of mantras or meditation.

I have little patience for stupidity, so people who display intelligence are almost immediately attractive to me. I try to surround myself with as many of them as possible.

I recently bought a PS3, and have so far finished L.A. Noire, Sleeping Dogs, Red Dead Redemption, Uncharted 3, LEGO Batman 2, and Rocketbirds. I’ve got Bioshock Infinite and the Mass Effect trilogy, too—but won’t start until I’ve finished revising my novel.

I love Junot Díaz. He’s so effortlessly smart, I could just listen to him talk all day on YouTube.

I tried writing under the influence a few times, but the prose turned out far less shiny in the sober light of day. It was a lot like dictating a dream—it may make complete sense within the dream world but reads like utter nonsense once fully awake.

I write while listening to Nine Inch Nails and Trent Reznor’s other sonic projects. His songs often put me into a sort of in-between dream state that facilitates creative thinking.

Every so often, I’ll eavesdrop on conversations in cafés in the CBD, which are full of corporate speak and euphemistic buzzwords—all are concerned with either the acquisition or retention of wealth.

I saw the South Park movie on opening weekend in 1999, and was sore all over for a week afterwards, for all of the laughing.

The Internet is fantastic for finding a wealth of visual stimuli.

In terms of politics, I definitely lean leftward. For a while I was a member of the Green Party in the USA.

The only Nine Inch Nails song I didn’t have in my collection was “Home”, and its absence drove me batty. A friend eventually emailed me an MP3 of it. Otherwise, I consider myself a law-abiding citizen.

I make enough money to live on, and a bit more for the occasional nice dinner out, movie or new book. That’s enough for now.

Lundberg’s short story collection Strange Mammals ($18), chapbook Embracing the Strange ($10), speculative fiction journal LONTAR ($22) and anthology The Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories ($24.90)—phew!—are available at BooksActually.

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