Hi Jimmy, been a fan of your flash fiction since I originally hit twitter. Thanks a lot for agreeing to an interview. To start things off, can you tell our readers a little bit about how you got started in the Literature scene?
I’m not certain I’m in the scene. I wrote a book and write daily fiction on Substack. I rarely
submit to magazines because I’m impatient as hell and some of the turnaround times are
ungodly. I come from the Detroit punk scene. We are very much a DIY crew. Local Detroit
indie bookstores have embraced me, so I’m grateful for that, but as far as the literary scene
in general, I’m like a snot-nosed kid on the sidelines even though I’m not a kid anymore.
Tell us about your recent work?
My first book, (Humans, Being-A Story a Day for a Year) was released in December 2020.
It’s 365 stories of exactly 100 words each. It started as a way to prove to a certain popular
online publication that their pay system was skewed, but then I started having fun with the
discipline (and I loathe discipline) of writing to an exact word count in every story.
On Roulette Weal, jimmydoom.substack.com on which I publish daily, I do longer short
fiction and some flash in the neighborhood of 400 to 1000 words. Publishing daily is a
derailed roller coaster of a commitment, but I am having fun and I think my readers are too.
Most of the stories center on the fringes of society, or average people who are harboring
secrets that aren’t average or “normal”, whatever the fuck normal is supposed to be.
Everyone’s favorite seems to be Eggshells, about a bullied little boy and his eccentric mom,
or Grandmaster, told through the eyes of a chess prodigy who is rendered nonverbal in an
Describe your writing style in 5 words?
Spare, Unflinching, Brash, Caustic, Real
What and/or who are your inspirations?
I grew up on the west side of Detroit when it was the murder capital of the US, if not the
world. My friend John Williams was shot and killed blocks from my house, taking out the
trash at his dishwashing job, when we were still in high school.
I loved telling stories before that, but that’s when I told myself I wanted to do something
with my life that was different. That stark, stunning reality that it could all end in a second
was profound. I’ve been shot at 3 times myself.I knew I had stories to tell and in a way it
was safer to fictionalize them.
Elmore Leonard was a superstar novelist when I was a teenager. He lived in a wealthy
suburb just north of the city and would do local book signings. I would go to them and he
would encourage me to write. But I decided to be in a punk band first. I could have done
both but I was too much of a drunk, and I was also waiting on tables at an Italian restaurant
not too far from where John was killed. I dabbled in fiction, handwritten in notebooks. But
mostly I was on stage, opening for The Exploited, GBH, Murphy’s Law, Social Distortion, etc.
or serving gnocchi to wealthy couples in their 80s.
I finally pulled my writing head out of my dabbling ass and started devoting more time to
that pursuit, got a gig at a legendary Detroit magazine called Orbit. (Tarantino wears the
magazine’s t-shirt in Pulp Fiction). It was a raucous atmosphere. I wasn’t writing fiction, but I
I guess the answer is the streets, life, fear of death, Elmore, some amazing women in my
life. Those are my inspirations.
What advice would you give to up and coming indie authors?
Some of them are gonna hate this: Write every fucking day. Set a minimum word count.
100 words? Fine. 500? Better. Set an achievable goal and stick to it.
If you love to write so much like people constantly discuss on Twitter, then write. No
Watch your toes for this namedrop: Josh Malerman, author of Birdbox, Inspection, Pearl,
and a handful more, is a friend of mine and a fantastic, multitalented human being. We were
at a bar having a meeting about a potential film project, laughing, joking, and he looks at the
clock and says “Oh shit, I gotta go write.”
A movie based on his book was taking over the world, everyone from nuns to bus drivers
were blindfolding themselves based on a character he wrote, he had about four other books
out there at the time, but he was not going to miss a minute of writing. He could have easily
said “one more whiskey,” and no one would have flinched, but he knew. He owed it to
himself to write. He wanted to write. And he walked out the door.
All this horseshit on Twitter “my WIP, my WIP…” Eat my fuck. You should be writing 7 hours
a day and on social media one or two hours instead of the other way around. Trust me,
when you walk into a crowded bookstore and they introduce you as an author and there’s a
line of people getting their book autographed, it will be 1000x better than anything anyone
could say to you on Twitter.
What are your plans for the future?
Thinking about releasing a short story collection drawn from some of my best work on
That would be the immediate future. I’m also shopping a feature film script, which is about a
guy like Walt from Gran Torino who meets Clean and Sober on Jack Kevorkian’s Farm.
That’s the elevator pitch, anyway. It goes deeper than that. There’s love and racism and
weed and destruction. Not in the same scene.
What is an issue you care about deeply?
The way the less fortunate/houseless/downtrodden are treated. You don’t have to wait for
public policy to change. You shouldn’t.
See that guy on the corner with the Please Help, God Bless sign ?
He was in third grade, just like you. Something went wrong and now he’s on the street. You
both wanted to be goddamn astronauts or firefighters in third grade, and now you might
have a shitty job you hate, but he’s on the street begging.
Make eye contact.
Ask him or her or them their name. They have one. They’re a person.
Have a conversation. They might make you laugh your ass off or tell you some wisdom
you’ll never forget. My buddy Big Rick, this frail dude in a wheelchair who lives near me,
bums change and smokes by the party store, told me this hilarious story about cunnilingus
and a hot turkey sandwich. I laughed so hard I thought I was gonna pass out. I watch people
walk by him like he’s nothing. He’s funnier than most of the comics at the open mic night in
the bar down the street, myself included.
You’re not gonna change public policy overnight or maybe in your lifetime, but you can make
a difference in their day and they can make one in yours.
“But he’s probably an addict” Really? Elvis was. Stephen King is. You deify those people. If
they brought Amy Winehouse back from the grave you’d line up to give her $120. The person
on the street corner could use some love, some humanity, and a few bucks whether they
have substance abuse issues or not. There are a handful of stories in my book about street
people. It easily, easily could have gone that way for me. I got lucky. If you’re reading this, so
I’ve been lucky enough to have an acting career
as well as a writing career.
I did a scene in Kill the Irishman where I get the worst end of a fight. When I hit the ground,
they cut, it was a planned thing. There were tons of extras and production assistants and
other crew members who I knew personally. But the person who went out of his way to help
me off the pavement was Steve Schirripa, who played Bobby Baccalieri on The Sopranos.
He could have been in his trailer eating a donut and getting a foot massage. But he was
helping a stranger off the pavement. You can do that, metaphorically every day of your life.
It’s not difficult.
What novel are you reading now?
I’m reading my buddy Josh’s Pearl, about a telepathic pig, and the 3rd Installment of Robin
Hobb’s Farseer series, another one about animals with human connections. My cat
approves. He told me.
What music are you listening to now?
I missed my friends Busby Death Chair tonight at a bar called Smalls in Hamtramck,
Michigan (a little town entirely surrounded by Detroit), because I had to do some lame
I guess the most current band I love is Stuyedeyed from Brooklyn, NYC. They put on a
blistering live show that can’t be described in mortal terminology.
Hot Water Music is touring again. Somehow I’ve never seen them live, so I’m revisiting their
catalogue before I hopefully see them in February. My all timer is The Clash. I’ll listen to
them whenever, wherever.
What did you last eat?
Party store pizza. I had a rough day, didn’t feel like cooking or waiting for food, so I got
that. It’s right by the register. They pull it out and hand it to ya.
If you could go on a drinking binge with 5 writers alive or dead who would you choose?
I quit drinking, but just for fun, and something I most certainly thought of when I did drink:
Hunter S Thompson (doesn’t everyone pick him?)
Katherine Dunn (though I would ruin her buzz just gushing over Geek Love in that horribly
repetitive drunk way)
If you could travel to a time and place in history what would it be?
Very specifically I would like me and Marisa Tomei to lose our virginity to each other. You
know, on our wedding night at 18 or whatever.
What would you like written on your gravestone?
I’d like my gravestone to be refrigerated so that kids who are abused and neglected or just
lonely could go there and have a sandwich and a beer or a pop and tell me their problems.
Then they could scrawl whatever they wanted on it with a Sharpie.
Jimmy Doom @JamesDoom
I’ve had a ridiculously varied writing career, from 20+ year headliner of Detroit’s Erotic Poetry Festival to Fine Food editor of cultural icon Orbit Magazine ( made infamous by Quentin Tarantino in Pulp Fiction), to writing short fiction heavily populated by outcasts and addicts like myself. My book of 100 Word Stories (some of which are contained in Roulette Weal) Humans, Being, (A Story a Day for a Year) was released in December 2020 and at last count had over 155 FIVE STAR reviews.