Friday, December 12, 2008

Orange Alert Reading Series

Join us this Monday (Dec 15th) @ The Whistler (2421 N. Milwaukee Ave.)

Here is the line-up:
Jac Jemc
Mary Hamilton
Amy Guth
Tim Hall

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

NYC Book Fair

We teamed up with the Blacksmiths for Literary Progress over the weekend to have a presence at the Indie & Small Press Book Fair in New York.

We also made an appreance in Wayne for the first (hopefully) annual Wayne Book Fair.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Orange Alert Reading Series @ The Whistler

I would say the first reading was sucessful, and The Whistler is incredible. Here are a few pics from the reading. Thanks again to Robert Duffer, Spencer Dew, Ben Tanzer, and Stephanie Kuehnert.

Monday, November 17, 2008

J. Kaye is totally okaye!

Ok, that was lame, but the fine blogger and reviewer J. Kaye of J. Kaye's Book Blog has posted a great new review of the book. Check it out!
" Rarely do I run across a writer who makes me glad I can feel so deeply the words in a book. You are probably one of the rarest of gems and I hope more readers will tune into your books." ~ J. Kaye

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New Review and New Cover?

No we are not changing the cover of the book, but this newly designed gem is courtesy of our new BFF's over at SOAPCHAT.NET.

In bigger and better news there is a new and glowing review of the book over at one of my favorite websites Gapers Block by the extremely intelligent Veronica Bond. Read it now!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Alert the Press!

The current promotion has begun to generate a little buzz. Check it out!

Pete Lit Rocks it! has an interview and reading entitled "Ira Glass Wants to Hit Me"

S. Craig Renfroe is a god!

*update* Madore's Other Blog love the logo and for that we love them!

Most Likely is under attack at SOAPCHAT.NET ! There is a very good chance that the book will be banded in most markets... get your copy while you still can!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Most Likely a Great Promotion!

For the entire month of November, Orange Alert Press will be offering free shipping on all orders (US only) of their debut novel Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine by Chicago author Ben Tanzer. The orders must be placed through this site. In addition, the first ten orders placed in November will receive a signed copy of the book. All packages shipped in November will include a limited edition Orange Alert Press pin made by MidwestLove Art & Design, a chapbook from Kendra Steiner Editions , and a copy of Orange Pulp.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Fixx Reading Series

Last night, Ben and our good friends Tim Hall (pictured) and Robert Duffer had the privileage of being a part of the Fixx Reading Series hosted by Amy Guth. The event was mainly a release party for Tim's new book Full of It. Good times were had by all!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Drawing on Sunlight

Part of the concept for the new book (Sunlight at Midnight, Darkness at Noon) is to have an illustration leading into each section of the book. The book itself is divided into eleven sections, one for each month, starting in Feb. 2002 and ending in Dec. 2002.

Here is a rough sketch for February and its inspiration.

...took a bit of a break there, now five thirty something a.m., I am just cruising along, no time now, a number only. it is good when you hit that stride, that level, that note, that centering essential tonality, something, understand? like the words are writing you, that is how you know the good poem is tumbling forth, spilling, spent. "CLAW AT STARS..." "THROWING HATCHETS OFF SKYSCRAPERS..." glad to know the truths I see drive you further towards your own. ~ February 12th, 2002 - from Cunningham

All illustrations, including the cover, for Sunlight will be done by the incredible hand of Chris Szostek.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Orange Alert Reading Series!

I am extremly pleased to have four amazing writers agree to launch The Orange Alert Reading Series. Held at The Whistler, the aim is to be on par with the other sucessful reading series in town. Like The Fixx (where Ben will be reading on Oct. 30th!) and Reading Under The Influence (where Ben will be reading on 11/5!).

Thanks to Spencer Dew, Ben Tanzer, Stephanie Kuehnert, and Robert Duffer.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ben Gets a Fixx

To launch the move of the Fixx Reading Series to The Book Cellar, Thursday October 30th... Check out this line-up!

Robert Duffer
Tim Hall
Ben Tanzer

Fixx Reading Series @ The Book Cellar 4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave.Chicago, IL

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Reading... The Meeting!

This past Sunday Ben was in NYC on business, but while in town stopped Freebird Books to read with Ken Wohlrob (Author of The Love Book).
While at the reading Ben signed a few copies of the book, and finally got to meet the artist behind the amazing cover, Michael Paige Glover!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Book Notes

The Largehearted Boy Book Notes feature has been posted... Check it out!

Here is an excerpt:

In his own words, here is Ben Tanzer's Book Notes essay for his novel, Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine:

Bob Dylan, Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine

Growing-up in my house you had three options if you wanted to listen to music, Bob Dylan, The Beatles or some random Klezmer band from Budapest. Anyway, I always listen to music when I’m writing and while working on one of the drafts of the book this song came on and it just seemed to have the right vibe. Thematically it works of course because it’s clearly a song about breaking-up and this is a story about a couple who comes together quickly, implodes just as quickly and then maybe somehow comes back together. But it wasn’t just the theme that worked for me, there are a million break-up songs that I could have referenced during the book, it was the fact that it is both kind of humorous and kind of dark, something I ‘m always trying to aim for when I write. And it was Dylan, someone who I purposely name-drop in the book as a figure who is all-knowing in only ways that Yoda, John Hughes and maybe Bruce Springsteen would understand. The catch there of course, is that once you invoke Dylan you have all the genius-God-should be a Nobel Prize winner stuff that comes with it. Still, when I was growing-up he was just a singer story-teller that my dad claimed my mom had discovered in the early sixties and our family owned in some way. Sort of like the Gore family and the internet.

Read the rest over at Largehearted Boy!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Major Love...

No that's not my stage name, but it is what Ben's book is receiving.

Today, Jeremy Gershfeld had some very kind and thoughtful words to say about Ben and the book.

"Most likely explores some of the same subjects as Lucky Man, but has shed some of self imposed permission to write. Instead of using uncomfortable subjects as the emblem, and permission to write as the underlying theme, Most Likely uses uncomfortable subjects as the device to express deeper feelings about unresolved relationships and infidelity. Tanzer's writing style reflected the deeper layers of meaning in Most Likely, with longer expressions of intellectual and emotional intimacy."

I also received an e-mail today from David Gutowski of the famed blog Largehearted Boy saying he had read the book and " enjoyed it immensely". As a result, Ben will be working on an essay for the LHB Book Notes section.
For the two of you who listened to Scene 5, here is Scene 6. If you listen closely you may hear my lovely speaking voice.

Friday, September 12, 2008

First Review...

The first review is up and it is great! Thanks to Kelly Moran and

Here is the quote of the day:

"Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine is a brilliant, clever, humorous, edgy, and raw portrayal of urban single life. Deftly written, it will capture your attention from the first page and leave you shaking your head in awe until the end. " ~ Kelly Moran Author & Reviewer

The books are now available at Quimby's and The Book Cellar here in Chicago, and Wordsmiths Books in Atlanta.

Recently, Ben had the opportunity to guest blog at J. Kaye Book Blog and here are the results.

And for those of you who are listening, here is Section 5 on the our little recording:

Chapter 5 - Most Likely - Ben Tanzer

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Special Announcement

I am proud to announce the next project for Orange Alert Press, and I could not think of a better day to do it. SUNLIGHT AT MIDNIGHT, DARKNESS AT NOON: The Cunningham/McCreesh Letters Vol. 1 Feb. - Dec. 2002 is now in the editing stage, and scheduled for release on January 20th, 2009. Yes, Inauguration Day.

In the era of twitter and texting, facebook poems, and gchat, the power of the written word can get lost. The necessity to hold the printed text in your hand and sit down in a comfortable chair or under tree or in your car after a long hard day at work and read the words before you has been replaced by the iphone. Yet, there are a few people out there that still prefer the typewriter to the laptop, and the letter to the e-mail. Two of them are named Hosho McCreesh and Christopher Cunningham. Established underground writers, McCreesh and Cunningham write with power and conviction, and through typed letters they have formed a bond and created a running dialog on how they view the world.

Here is how Hosho described the book to me, but I think this can sum it up for everyone:

What unfolds here in these pages is the story of two lives as they struggle and search for meaning, for understanding, for some small measure of sense in a cold and often brutal, senseless world. Sometimes scathing and brash, sometime vulnerable, sometimes self-assured, the conversational threads are woven into a constant, furious tapestry covering the landscape of the American South, the desert Southwest and all the way to the cold mountains of Switzerland. Here are two writers clinging desperately to typewriters as war in the Middle East breaks out, as fear and terror motivate and penetrate the culture at large, gouge into its electronic eye, as the artistic mind is flattened, anesthetized. These letters represent a refusal to submit and a wild shout to the heavens that art can still matter. Reading these things over has been a revelation I think both Chris & I agree, that, while we've changed as writers & as people, this is still very much who we are & how we approach our work. Not bad for two guys who've never met.

Over the next few months I will share excerpts, cover concepts, limited edition ideas (and realities), thoughts, input, songs, and so on as we work together to build this book. For now I will leave you with this.

Sunlight at Midnight, Darknes a Noon

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Event Recap

This Event Will Change Your Life - Sept 6th @ DvA Gallery, Chicago

A big thank you to every one who came out, performed, or helped plan and assemble the event. The event was a success, and the turn-out was great. Here are some photos from the night.

Jill Summers lead things off with an hillarious commentary pieces on the PBS nightmare Rick Bayless.

Brendan Losch was kind enough to stop by a sing a few of the 35 songs he has written and recorded this year. All of his songs can be downloaded from his website for free. You should also check out his music blog Count Me Out.

Poet Jason Fisk followed with three tremendous pieces. After he read, I found out that this was his first public reading. I am honored that he chose this event to be his public debut.

While the next band set up a couple people made their way over to a beautifully decorated book table. Each book purchased was signed by Ben, and many folks also walked away with the brand new Orange Alert Press button.

Venna traveled a long way to perform for us, and the audience was completly blown away. I received many comments about their performance, and I am so glad people enjoyed it. They released their debut ep back in April.

The night would not be the same with out a reading from the bearded one, Nick Ostdick. Nick is the editor of RAGAD, and fiction editor of decomP.

Yes, the rumors are true.

The final musical performance of the night was by Other World who dedicated the song "Lucky Man" by The Verve to the nights guest of honor.

Finally we brought Ben to the stage to read to a now packed house. He read several selections from his marked up copy of the book. There was laughter and tears and thunderous applause. Everyone left feeling that this event had truly changed their lives.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Release Event Update

Here is the star-studded line-up for the book release party being held on Sept. 6th at DvA Gallery (2568 N. Lincoln Ave. Chicago)!

6:15: Jill Summers (reading)
6:30: Brendan Losch (music)
7:00: Tim Hall (reading)
7:15: Jason Fisk (reading)
7:30: Venna (music)
8:00: Nick Ostdick (reading)
8:15: Other World (music)
8:45: Ben Tanzer (reading)

Ben will also be reading on Sept. 11 @ Town Hall Pub (3340 N. Halsted) at 9:00pm as part of The Green Flash release party! Also featuring Black Umbrella Brigade, and readings by: Jessica Young, Ben Vigeant, Emily Renaud, Simon Smith, and Jasmine Neosh.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Scene 4: Couples

Here is Scene 4 of the stripped down version of the book we recorded for your enjoyment:

Chapter 4 - Most Likely - Ben Tanzer

The Page 69 test piece is live and wonderful, check it out. There is also another blurb here.

There are now copies available at The Book Cellar, and they should be at Quimby's shortly. In addition, post cards have been sent to a various book stores across the country.

Also, I have three signed copies of Most Likely to send to the next three people who place an order!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Scene 3: The Date

Chapter 3 - Most Likely - Ben Tanzer

Here is the third scene of the very condensed play version of the book. It features the talented voices of Tim Hall, Amy Guth, Jill Summers, and Ben Tanzer with music by Yea Big.

New blurbs...
J. Kaye Book Blog received the book, loved the quote page, and is running a CONTEST!
J.A. Taylor tells you to "read it, read it, read it."
Matt Staggs says he received "a really cool music sampler from the publisher."
Michael Phelps says it was better then winning the gold! (ok maybe he didn't, but I think he would...)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Flyers and Blurbs

It's all about flyers and blurbs!


The fantastic book reviewer Jason Pettus of cclap has blurbed Most Likely..., and recommends every one purchase a copy.

Also, Marshal Zeringue mentioned the book on the very cleverly titled blog, "New Books".

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Check it Out!

The first video has arrived! The critics rave "Fast Paced"... "A Thrill a Second"... "Can't Miss".

Don't be the last one on your block to watch this video.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Take Note... Out and About

Out: (upcoming readings)
Saturday, September 6 from 6 to 9pm at DvA Gallery (Most Likely release party!)
Sunday, September 28 @ 7pm at Freebird Books (123 Columbia St.Brooklyn, New York 11231)
Tuesday, October 14 @ 7:30pm at Innertown Pub for QUICKIES
Thursday, October 30 @ The Fixx Reading Series

About: (Interviews and Press)
Interview with Robert Duffer in The Examiner
A piece about Page 69 of Most Likely... is forthcoming at Campaign for the American Reader.
A little blurb at Wasi-Sabi and Pete Lit and at So a Devil and a Circus Walk into a Bar.

Friday, August 1, 2008

It's Offical

The book is officially released and available to purchase both here and on amazon or by sending check or money order to PO Box 3897, St. Charles, IL 60174. In the coming weeks we hope to see reviews surfacing by many fine publications and writers. Press packets and all of the preorders were mailed yesterday along with a copy of Orange Pulp and specially created mix cd.

The mix is called "Where Were You in '92?" since the book takes place in the early Nineties, and features two versions of "Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine" by Bob Dylan and songs released in the early '90's.

Where Were You in '92?
1. Bob Dylan - Most Likely...
2. Pixies - Where is My Mind?
3. Morphine - Buena
4. Sonic Youth - 100%
5. The Breeders - Cannonball
6. Dinosaur Jr. - In a Jar
7. Belly - Feed the Tree
8. James - Laid
9. Nirvana - Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle
10. Sebadoh - Everybody Has Been Burned
11. Smashing Pumpkins - Disarm
12. Mazzy Star - Fade Into You
13. RHCP - Soul to Squeeze
14. Pearl Jam - Yellow Ledbetter
15. The Cure - A Letter to Elise
16. Violent Femmes - Prove My Love
17. Operation Ivy - Smiling
18. Morrissey - Pashernate Love
19. Stone Temple Pilots - Plush
20. Primus - My Name is Mud
21. Blind Melon - Soak in Sin
22. Bob Dylan - Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine (Mark Ronson Remix)
Also for the 36 people who have listen to Scene One of Most Likely... here is Scene Two!

Chapter 2 - Most Likely - Ben Tanzer, Tim Hall, Amy Guth, & Jill Summers

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Look what I've found...

Stacked upon my doorstep tonight was this bounty of freshly printed books. Soon I will be shipping out review copies, and fulling all of the orders that have already been received.

Speaking of which, I want to thank everyone who has placed an order through paypal. For those of you who are not comfortable using paypal you can send check or money order to Orange Alert at P.O. Box 3897, St. Charles, IL 60174. Also (although and I am not going to hype this option to highly) the Amazon page has been established.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Scene One: The Party

Scene One: The Party - Ben Tanzer, Tim Hall, Amy Guth and Jill Summers

A couple of weekends ago, Ben Tanzer, Tim Hall, Amy Guth, Jill Summers, Nick Volkert and myself meet at Stray Dog Recording Co. to record a condensed version of the book. It is broken into 7 sections or scenes, and the first on is ready to go. The intro and outro music has graciously been provided by Stefen Robinson (a.k.a. Yea Big).

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pre-Order, Pre-Order!

That's right! The books have been ordered, and everything is in place. If you would like to order your copy now you may click the button below. The books will be shipped the week of August 1st. It will cost you $14 each (plus shipping), but they will arrive in a beautifully designed yellow envelope, lined with luxurious little pockets filled with air. I may also include other little surprises! Don't wait click now!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It's a Party!

September 6th, 2008 6pm to 10pm @ DvA Gallery in Chicago

2568 N. Lincoln Ave.

It's official, the day has been set and the location has been found (finally!) for the release event for Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine. There will be music by several local musicians (to be named later). There will be readings from the book. Ben will be signing copies and everyone will be having a fantastic time! I hope to see you there. Stay tuned for more details.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


The proof arrived today, and I could not be more excited and pleased with how it turned out. When you submit something in pieces, and it is all on the computer screen, it is hard to understand what it will actually look and feel like.

I was also concerned with the quality of the printing that I would receive. I had looked at several printers in the area and even at one that was in downstate Illinois. I decided to go with Lightning Source for both their distribution outlets and their ability to help me control costs. I discussed the difference between offset and digital with a local printer, and she said that for small runs with black and white text digital is what she would always recommend. With all of that being said, I was still nervous about the quality. I can honestly say that I am very impressed with the work that they did, and I can't wait to share it with everyone.

However, there are a few corrections that need to be made, but I don't believe that this will effect the release date of Aug. 1st!

I want to again thank Chris Szostek and Michael Paige Glover for the work they put into making this project what it is today.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

We're in the Studio

Yesterday, by some act of fate or luck or something, I was able to gather five very talented people into Stray Dog Recording Studio, and the results will hopefully be very enjoyable for everyone. What I did was basically trim the book down into a 24 page, 7 scene audio play that turned our to last just about an hour. Joining me to record this project was Tim Hall (Peter), Amy Guth (Rhonda), Jill Summers (Jen), Nick Volkert (Peter), and of course Ben Tanzer (Geoff/Narrator).

Everyone had a great time and hopefully that shines through on the recording that will be released through our various blogs in the next few weeks. I am now in talks with a mystery beat creator to add a little flare to intros and outros for a little extra appeal.

More details to follow, but the release date has been scheduled. The book will be available for purchase on August 1st (very exciting!).

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Ben Tanzer, Most Likely You Go Your Way And I'll Go Mine
Cut and paste this code for the image above:

Ben Tanzer, Most Likely You Go Your Way And I'll Go Mine
Cut and paste this code for the image above:

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Meet the Artist

It was last July that I ran my interview with Michael Paige Glover, July 4th to be exact. I chose July 4th because I felt his work captured that sense of Americana that I was looking for. His has the ability to take a scene from everyday life and twist it, temper it with a unique feel of nostalgia and deliver a striking image. It is his use of nostalgia that prompting me to contact him to help with this project.

I also felt that he might connect with both Ben and the book, and I felt it would be that connection that would spark an idea for the cover. I feel that Michael has really delivered a great image that will translate in any format and really fits well with the book itself. After reading one of Michael's blog entries I knew I would have to ask have to share his views and feeling about the project with everyone. Of course, he was happy to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): This is your first experience creating a cover for a novel. What are your thoughts in general about the process?
Michael Paige Glover (MG): First let me say I'm very thankful to have the opportunity to work with you guys.This has been a great experience and has opened up new territories in my own work.
As far as the process of making a book cover is concerned, I can honestly say it's been exciting, challenging and in the end very rewarding. Since this project was something new to me, I felt very free with the creative process but most important was the fact that I really connected with Ben's characters. I think a writer has done his or her job when the reader can effortlessly live inside in one of the characters and stay emotionally connected throughout the book. Ben's novel did that for me. I felt good about the story from the very beginning and everything just flowed from that point on. As I mentioned on my website, I love the dialog and the humor. I found it to be very refreshing and original and the story moved by itself. The most challenging aspect was translating my interpretation of the figures into the actual painted piece. You can go in several directions with how you think they're suppose to appear on the cover: what pose are they taking?, what are the individual expressions and mood?, the type of clothing, hairstyle, etc...and so I experimented with different styles until I came up with something that felt right. I particularly like the heart emblem on the girl's tank top.

OA: How did you approach the initial image?
MG: I started off with basic pencil sketches in a notebook. They were mainly for placement and compositional purposes. Like my paintings, I tend to juxtapose images and off-set things in order to break up the picture plane. I wanted to do the same with the book cover.

Since the story takes place in New York City, the four figures were to be set against the City skyline. I have a stock-pile of photos which I store on my computer and also stacks of vintage books and magazines which provide an endless amount of visual resource. I had a photo which centered on the Empire State building and showed various buildings and the East River. The photo was taken at dusk and so everything was slightly out of focus, which was perfect. From there, I took it into Photoshop and began to play with the colors, tones and texture. I wanted to keep the forms flat and simple because it served as a backdrop to the characters but they had to both compliment each other. I wanted it to be clean and simple but the sky had to have plenty of breathing room. The effect of scattered clouds tends to move the eyes around from the title, the city and the characters. It's cyclical.

We decided that the colors of the skyline would be a turquoise or a cerulean type of blue and the figures would be rendered in sepia tone. I thought this was a great combination. Sepia tone and black and white photographs, not to mention art in general, posses a timelessness and nostalgia that color imagery does not. To me, it's just more powerful and direct. I think the effect is intensified when they're overlapped on top of a color background. It becomes somewhat psychological and creates a mysterious setting.

With the figures, I wanted their overall look to embody photography, illustration or representational painting. I know that's a huge combination but it was my initial response to the characters that prompted this. Somewhere between the three disciplines, I knew the right image would appear. I did a study where the figures were painted with very loose and expressive brush strokes but it quickly fell apart because in the end, it was too contrived and forced.
So, I went back and focused on the linear aspect of each figure. The resulting image falls somewhere between the illustrative and the photographic and that's exactly where I wanted it to be. I ended up replacing the middle figures with new ones because at first, they looked unhappy and a bit cynical, which was not my intention. The two new figures purposefully stare back at the viewer/reader while the other two are looking off into separate directions. I think within all of them, there are feelings of uncertainty, confidence, vulnerability, humor and the need to find love and be loved. I kept thinking of the dialog between each person and so that's how the figures emerged. Visually, I wanted to have movement between each one.

OA: What do you personally look for in a book cover? Do you find yourself looking a books differently after working on this project?
MG: I think my mind unconsciously seeks out the simple and concise book cover because if it's too busy or cluttered with pictures and information, then my eyes will purposely skip over it. I don't want to deal with it. The title has to have room to breathe within the confines of the book cover. The art has to envelope the reader and draw them in without much effort. There has to be plenty of free floating space between the title and image for the reader to get an immediate response of what the book may be about and if they can connect with it. This is usually a quick, visceral response to the title and artwork which is followed by curiosity and leads to the opening the book and of course, reading the synopsis.

If anything, the whole process has made me a little more aware of negative space, the choice of a specific font, what colors are being used and if the synopsis has anything to do with the cover art or vice versa.

OA: You are also working on a book of your own. How is your art book coming along?
MG: It's going well and constantly changing! I made a small book of my current work and it was really my first attempt at making anything that resembles a publication. Although it still needs tweaking, I have to say, I absolutely love the process because I feel in complete control of the production. The only thing that I have no control over is the printing process. Printing is an education in and of itself! My intention was to make it for personal reasons and not publish it but it keeps expanding and after looking at several other art books, I don't see any reason as to why it shouldn't be published. That's a future project still in the works though.

I was writing frequently while making the new work and I had thought of combining passages from my journal with the images to explain my thought process behind each painting. Not only text but sketches, photos and anything that illustrates my creative process. I've always been intrigued as to how artists' create their work and what goes on from beginning to end. I'm even more intrigued when they open up and explain their reasons for each painting. Sometimes this can take away from the piece itself but not always. For me personally, it just helps me understand where they're coming from and what led them to the final piece. So it's started to become more than just an art book. I'm not sure where it's going right now but I'm enjoying the path it's put me on.

In the last interview you gave me, I mentioned that I wanted to make a Graphic Novel based on the subject of my paintings and life. Well finally, I've started this project and although a Graphic Novel takes a considerable amount of time to complete, it's been a great experience thus far. Writing a story and creating illustrations to accompany it can be a complicated endeavor but it's also incredibly addictive and fulfilling. I've had plenty of stories in my head for a long time but never gave myself the chance to express them in words.

OA: Your newest pieces seem to be going in a different direction. There seems to be more going on, and more vibrant colors. Do you feel like you are changing your process in anyway or adding new elements to your work?
MG: Recently, I've been drawing and painting almost exclusively from imagination. I was trained academically to paint from real life and use photos as reference, and it's a great way to hone one's skills and understand your medium but after a while, it becomes restrictive. A lot of the change is also due to drawing and writing comics. Although I've read them for most of my life, I'm new to creating comics and telling stories and so it's really enriched my creativity. I do feel myself being pulled from one side to the other but I think all of it can be unified and used in harmony. Each discipline complimenting the other.
I'm trying to create the thing that I don't think I can create, if that makes since. Extracting this thing out of your mind that looks like nothing you've ever seen before. It's the agony/ecstasy principle. I love vintage photography and nostalgic imagery but it can easily become a crutch and everything you do reads as photo realism. If you get too comfortable in what you're creating, you end up repeating yourself and going around in circles.

In the past year I would say the narrative element in my work has definitely changed shape and is evolving into something more specific. It's difficult to explain exactly what this is because I'm in the middle of it for the moment. I see the earlier work as a little more ambiguous and symbolic but now, I believe it's shifting into the imaginary/surreal realm where my own characters are being developed and new worlds are being discovered. The nostalgia is still there but not as obvious as before. The chromatic colors are a result of this change. The way I'm feeling at any given time in my life is what's being reflected in my work and so at this point, I feel myself wanting to saturate the canvas. I want things to explode all over the place but in color. Overall, the work has been concerned with childhood memories, adult anxieties, functional/dysfunctional relationships and the typical modern family. I think the work will continue to progress with these themes while taking on new forms.

For more information on Michael Paige Glover please visit his website.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Meet the Author

One of the main benefits of working on What to Wear During an Orange Alert over the last year and a half has been the quality relationships that I have formed. I have had the good fortune to met and interview hundreds of writers, artists, and musicians. It has truly been and will continue to be a magical experience. Back in June of 2007, I read an interview with a local writer named Ben Tanzer. In his interview and through the stories I found on-line I could detect a genuine sense of humor that triggered my interview with him in July of that year. Over the next few months, I read his debut novel Lucky Man (Manx Media) and became addicted to his youtube videos.

Meeting Ben for the first that Fall at a RAGAD reading, it was clear that we would become friends. As our friendship grew we both knew that we would eventually work together in some form or another. In March, the launch of This Zine Will Change Your Life was our first taste of working together, and we both felt it was a good fit. It was also in March that Ben sent me the initial manuscript for Most Likely.... Little did I know that the cleaver title of his blog (This Blog Will Change Your Life) would become more then just a title.
Here is a brand new interview with Ben.

Orange Alert Press (OAP): What would you like everyone to know about this book?
Ben Tanzer (BT): First off, people should know how much I have enjoyed working with Orange Alert Press and your crew, Chris and Michael, everyone is cool, and creative, and we have a great rapport, so it’s been a lot of fun. Second, for some, reading this book might just change their life, maybe for only five or ten minutes, but that’s not bad, right? Third, my thinking with this book was to try to tell the story of a relationship where a couple comes together quickly, implodes just as quickly and then tries to find their way back together again. I would add that for the two or three people who read my first novel Lucky Man, and thank you for doing so, that if you read “Go Your Way…” you will not only re-encounter some of my favorite themes, pop culture, fractured families, New York City, substance abuse and fathers and sons, but some new ones I’ve been playing around with as well, including mothers and daughters, siblings and well, porn of course. I would also add that the characters in this novel in many ways are who the characters who survive Lucky Man and that lifestyle might move on to become. The people I know who took a lot of drugs and drank too much, were exposed to violence and loss, may have had different problems, but they figured out ways to cope and move on, take less drugs and moderate their drinking. They got older, mostly got into relationships, some of which are even healthy, and some of them looked like the characters in this book as they rolled fitfully through their twenties. Finally, I think it’s also important for me to stress, that everyone is welcome to buy multiple copies of the book. They make great gifts, paperweights and chew toys.

OAP: The title is taken for a Bob Dylan song. What was it about that song that seemed to fit with what you wanted to accomplish with this story?
BT: I probably need to start by saying that I listen to music all the time and almost always listen to music when I write. I was listening to “Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine” on some random afternoon while working on the book and in a mood for some Dylan and it just struck me as the right vibe for this work, the right title certainly, but even the tone, and what it invoked in me. I don’t necessarily listen to lyrics, but while the song isn’t exactly happy thematically, it is sung with a certain kind of lightness and humor, and I like to strive for that when I write, dark but laced with humor, streamlined, but with dialogue that resonates. What’s tricky is that Dylan is so loaded, he’s a genius, a poet, a god and so on, and I didn’t want that association per se, but this song on that day, was perfect. On another day it could have been something by Avail or Bruce Springsteen or Other World, and some day it probably will be.

OAP: As with Lucky Man, you seem to use nostalgia for specific actors, products, events, to draw the reader into the story. I feel it gives your fiction a stronger sense of reality. How important is that nostalgia and various reference to this story and your writing in general?
BT: This is a great question and it’s funny really, because I don’t know that I think in terms of nostalgia, though I’m sure that’s exactly what I’m looking to evoke. I’m interested not only in how people talk, but how they express themselves, and the people I know use these sorts of references. At times it’s lazy for sure, but this kind of commentary is a short hand of sorts, a touchstone for people, and a way of identifying who you are, what you like and what influences you. These references can also be funny, which is always good when writing a story, though more than that there are moments in a book where I specifically try and think in terms of certain references that hopefully move the story along because they generate certain memories or frames as people read, almost like a code. I’m not super interested in providing lots of back story for the characters, I’d rather just hang certain pieces of information off of them along the way and let the reader draw whatever conclusions about the characters that they want. If a character references Deenie or Martin Scorcesse, or the urban legend about Richard Gere and the gerbil, the reader will form some kind of opinion or have some kind of association and whatever that is works for me. Another piece of this though, is that while I want people to have a certain feeling for the characters, and while I want the reader to feel like I’m inside their head as they read, I also want to give them some insight into some of the things that have influenced me along the way, which in my case are things like the books of S.E. Hinton, Ray Bradbury, X-Men comics, The Basketball Diaries, Star Wars, Dallas, John Hughes and Bob Dylan.

OAP: Following Lucky Man you went on a personal media blitz, using blogs and youtube primarily. Do you plan to approach the promotion of Most Likely... in a similar way? Do you feel those video or interviews helped Lucky Man in anyway?
BT: I had a lot of fun with the blitz and would be really into trying to continue that with the new book. I should start by saying that from the start I wanted to use the monorail episode of The Simpsons as my model for marketing Lucky Man – in essence, we have a cool product that you don’t really need, but we will convince you that you do anyway. Hence, This Blog Will Change Your Life was created as a mock platform for my faux corporation Lucky Man, Inc. When I realized that ideally Lucky Man would not be the only book I would publish, my fake marketing team re-branded the corporation TBWCYL, Inc. so we could push all future products as well. We also decided that TBWCYL, Inc. should probably have multiple platforms so it became the base of our faux media empire, which isn’t even really so faux anymore with the other things I’ve been working. So, the blogging will definite continue because now we get to celebrate the release of “Go Your Way…,” and with the videos they have always been driven by being inspired by some random idea or some video I want to riff on so with a new book I expect there will be new ideas. Well, at least I hope so. All that said, I don’t think any this stuff helped sales, but on the one hand it made the whole experience more fun and entertaining, playing around with grassroots marketing, and pretending Lucky Man was a product people can’t live without, and on the other hand it probably helped with rising above some of the clutter, a little extra buzz, the sense that maybe something was going on, and that maybe, just maybe Lucky Man was something you want to know more about. Probably most importantly though, trying different things like blogging and shooting videos gave me confidence to keep exploring other opportunities, like podcasting and the creation of This Zine Will Change Your Life, and that led me to meet more people and keep trying new things I wouldn’t have done without the book as an excuse to make time for them.

OAP: Do you feel there are things that a small press can offer that the bigger publishing house can't or won't?
BT: You know it’s really important to me that I get to work with people I would like to work with, people who love books and want to be creative, people who have encouraged me and been supportive, not to mention people I have, or might be, sexually involved with like the super hot staff at Orange Alert Press. It’s all very personal for me in terms of how I want to live and create, and it has to be fun and kind of grassroots. Does a big publishing house operate like that, maybe, but do my friends and the people I want to partner with work at such place, I’m not sure, and even if they did, would they want to go to a recording studio with me, talk cover art or take a showers with me while we act like our only intention is to save water, no, I doubt it.

OAP: Back in March you started a zine that on the surface is a lit journal, but there are extra elements involved. Why did you want to start a zine, and how has the response been to the format?
BT: As we sought to expand our faux media empire at TBWCYL, Inc. I got really excited about trying to launch a zine as well, This Zine Will Change Your Life, which is something I had always wanted to do. Part of it was my interest in finding ways to be involved with writers and meet more writers and maybe even building some kind of community of writers and artists who would feel like they were part of something and had a home. But I also wanted to find a way to explore my other interests, art and music, and see how these things might all hang together. As I thought about it and talked to friends like Adam Lawrence who shoots street art in New York City and you, Jason Orange, who has access to all this great independent and mostly unknown music I started thinking about how we could match stories and poems with a photo of Adam’s and stream a song of your choice and package them together. The response has been great, with a lot of submissions from writers we love, S. Craig Renfroe, J.A. Tyler, Tim Hall, Jill Summers and Sam Pink among others, and in fact we’ve had so many quality submission, that I recruited the most excellent writer Pete Anderson of Pete Lit blog fame to be a reader, well actually he begged us to help out, but we were into it, I mean the dude’s a legend and all. And so we built this team, and I was able to engage all these people I really wanted to work and hang with, and ultimately, people have been excited about the format. In fact VAIN magazine recently picked TZWCYL as its spring zine contest winner, so it’s pretty good man, and again lots of fun.

OAP: What are your thoughts on Chicago literature in general? Is there a growing community of writers or a just a few big fish?
BT: There is a really rich scene here and a seemingly ever-growing community. There are definitely some “big fish” to the extent that great writers like Joe Meno, Anne Elizabeth Moore and Elizabeth Crane - the latter being the ongoing muse for This Blog Will Change Your Life and a really awesome and gracious friend of the blog and Lucky Man - have really broken out the last several years, while Todd Dills and the THE2NDHAND crew and Jonathan Messinger and the Featherproof Books gang are really on the verge of doing so if not there already. You also have Columbia College as this amazing incubator and launching pad for these writers and others which is such an awesome thing. But then there’s so much more happening, maybe slightly more obscure, The Parlor Reading series with Joanna Topor Mackenzie and her crew, The Fixx reading series hosted by killer Chicago writer and Pilcrow empress Amy Guth, the new series QUICKIES! Chicago led by Mary Hamilton and Lindsay Hunter, who are too cool, Reading Under Influence and Robert Duffer who I just had lunch with recently, also quite cool, and Spencer Dew just a great writer and my favorite live reader, Jill Summers, who I mentioned earlier and we’re going to publish in the zine soon, she just totally rocks, and I have a bit of crush on her - she’s not going to read this is she, Nick Ostdick and RAGAD, a great writer, reading host, supporter of mine and great dude, Tim Hall and Pete Anderson who I mentioned before and I just really admire as writers, bloggers and dads, Jason Pettus at CCLaP, a lover of writers and books. And these are all great people, people who support one other and come out for things, and its neat because most of us have to work as well, but still want to write, and I’m not sure if it’s always been like this, but either way, something is definitely happening, and I’m really excited to be part of it in any way I can.

OAP: What's next for Ben Tanzer?
BT: Wow, big question. I’m definitely going to be watching Spongebob Square Pants with my kids today and changing more diapers for sure. I may cut down on my carbs and Tim Hall and I have been exploring moving out to California and adopting Nick Ostdick which we’re all really excited about. The guys and I from the original line-up of Wham! continue to talk about a reunion show, we were hoping for Bonnaroo this summer, but I have had some hair plug removal issues, cash-flow stuff, so we’ll see, maybe Lollapalooza 2009. I’m also hoping Diane Lane will return at least one of my calls. Beyond that, hyping “Go Your Way…” for sure and continuing to nurture and expand This Zine Will Change Your Life. There’s a little short documentary thing I’ve been playing around with and hope to dive into more fully and I am very excited to have been invited to guest edit VAIN magazine’s fall issue. I have been talking to someone about publishing a short story collection of mine which I don’t want to jinx, but it represents a certain group of pieces I wrote, mostly published over the last three years and I have always loosely thought of them as the Binghamton stories. All very grandiose I know. Longer term I would be really interested in running a small press of some kind, even more grandiose for sure, but something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, so, we’ll see. Finally, I am at work on the first draft of my next novel, tentatively titled “You Can Make Him Like You,” a story about three guys that gelled for me during a Hold Steady show at the Metro. It will be my first novel set not only in Chicago, but present time, and I hope Orange Alert Press will want to run with it some time in 2009. Not sure if we discussed that yet.

Stay tuned for part 2 of our interview series, a new interview with artist Michael Paige Glover.