Peter Jacob Streitz is the author of, Hellfires Shake the Blues and Past Oz; here is a link to his Amazon page:
Q: What is, Hellfires Shake the Blues about?
A: With the exception of a few poems I wrote long long ago in a land far far away . . . HELLFIRES is about the cannonballs of the street trying to kill the desiccated flies of poetic poppycock; that overly masturbatory verse that’s been systematically hijacked by those still trying to get gold stars from the late Mrs. Titmouse or laid by the former king or queen of their high school prom. In a world where everything is becoming increasingly whiteified—scrubbed and sanitized to the point that “whatever” is the definitive answer to every question—HELLFIRES subsumes Franz Kafka’s rephrased belief that “. . . poetry ought to be an ice pick to crack the frozen sea within our psyche.” Thus my work first freezes our social sense with a blast of cold reality before conjoining hands in a communal effort to swim ashore of islands uncharted and unexplored; thereby, opening new worlds of reciprocal repute and personalized empathy.
Q: What life experiences inspired you to write it?
A: Like a majority of us, my being born into this ever evolving world of false fronts and trap doors where truth, love and hate is stirred into societal cauldrons like sacred verities—only to be doled out by the collective’s most narcissistic twit—started my idiosyncratic journey of seeking languages uncorrupted by any socially consecrated Tower of Babble. That along with the fact I was cursed to be a gifted athlete—pressuring me towards the performance training of dumb-ass coaches and blue-eyed cheerleaders—instead of a more soulful sharing of a sick bed with the artistic likes of Madame Bovary and others of her novelistic ilk. With that as a foundation it was off to college on a full basketball scholarship that lasted two weeks before I fled back home to flip donuts at our local bakery from 2 A.M. to 6 A.M. then from 6 to noon hand-cart quarter ton pallets of stainless steel grips to the ladies doing piece work at the Quackenbush Nutcracker Factory . . . which eventually propelled me to Boston University where one of my smoke-toked Profs emphatically proclaimed that I graduated with the only degree ever given in Alternative Education . . . making me supremely suited for my next role as heavy-handed repo man retrieving the “sticks” (used as collateral) by deadbeats in Mattapan and Roxbury, Massachusetts.
Soon after escaping with my life, I donned the corporate mask of a computer executive in the vast industrial complex before losing my marbles and moving with my wife as mentor to Ol’ Frisco . . . and there recapturing all the childhood disillusionment that makes me the writer I am today.
Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your writing?
A: I’m a full-time HouseHusband employed by a female executive. This influences my writing by making my emotional skin as hard as nails. How else could I survive the unmanliness of no paycheck and goldbricking off the back of a woman, patron or not? No, whether the sound of applause is only crickets or the standing ovation of my own delusiveness—both the verse and prose unceasingly flows from a heartily uncompromised source of my inborn being . . . to the only sea I’m free to imagine.
Q: Who are some of your writing influences and how is this evidenced in Hellfires Shake the Blues?
A: I’m sure the BOOK OF THE DEAD had some influence . . . if I could only be certain I read it in this lifetime. Then there were all the bastard philosophers I’d been reading since junior high, especially (my favorite) Wilhelm Reich, whose THE FUNCTION OF THE ORGASM was openly carried around in my back pocket like a bible—while misreading the title, thinking it was something I actually experienced, meaning, THE FUNCTION OF THE ORGANISM—until I was unfairly sentenced to detention for the crime of trying to educate myself on subjects the teachers had little success with or firsthand knowledge of. But to be sure—due to my style and drinking habits—Bukowski certainly barfed his way into my subconscious . . . yet our themes are as different as sex for sex sake or sex for the sake of sex. This language thing was passed from Buk’s God, John Fante, to Buk, freeing him, in this most sophisticated of modernities, to use the C-word instead of the P-word not to be confused with the N-word that can only be written or said by those deemed sufficiently disenfranchised in the eyes of an intelligentsia that hates human nature as much as their own soullessness . . .
Now there’s a prime “example” and\or “evidence” of being influenced and not a detailed analysis of the influences themselves . . . my deepest apologies . . . for I didn’t even remark on Harry Crews and his fine works like A FEAST OF SNAKES or ALL WE NEED OF HELL where his literary “voice” tweaks the vibe of serial killers from cultures that live just beneath the skin deep surface of polite society.
Q: When did you start writing?
A: According to “the me” that I didn’t really know (but the one that survived the death match with the corporate man I knew implicitly) I’d been penning fiction—at least in my most catholic of minds—since the Sunday of my first confession. I mean, anyone can have a plain white sheet of paper, but it’s the writer that blackens the blank with the handwoven scripts in his head. So I’d say I actually started writing, for public consumption, the year I became sexually desirous of others, you know, trying to reach out and touch someone in any way I could. Heck, even pubescent verse is an aphrodisiac to yourself, if not the publishing world, during your sprouting years.
Q: What have you done to publicize your books?
A: Besides the insane bullshit of Twittering and Facebooking to the billions Twittering and Facebooking me like madams manically pimping “around the worlds,” I haven’t done diddly. For as an iconoclastic non-connector who aberrantly believes that divine intervention is the ultimate promotional tool, I’ve been patiently waiting for The Man Almighty to plop HELLFIRES and PAST OZ into Oprah’s brainpan like gluttonous thoughts of shakes and fries. At least that was true until I recently hired a publicist who’s desperately (with great kindness and understanding) trying to get me to equate exposing myself and my work to the public as indispensable to my paradoxical proclivities . . . and not something that means completely abolishing my blasphemous ways.
So with that as a possibility, I conjured-up the image of George Zimmer and stumbled into a Men’s Warehouse to buy a Sunday-go-to-meeting-Suit for any (potential) public appearances; thereby exhibiting my complete commitment to “publicizing” my newly minted ass . . . plus, keeping my heartfelt pledge to my now adored propagandist. Thus, without a hint of evangelical fervor, church, or pew this new apparel will also, at least visually, eradicate my diverse array of inks and piercings . . . all highlighting my brotherhood with progressive outrage, social activism, and the righteousness of law and order.
Q: What trends in literature annoy you?
A: Memoirs . . . like I give a shit about another loser’s life. Now INTERVIEWS—that’s a whole other kettle of corn.
Q: What is Past Oz about?
A: My novel PAST OZ is about—where we all end up in our lives—when we’ve had enough life experience to actually decide the direction we have always wanted (consciously or subconsciously) to go regardless of our inherited race, creed, color, economic status, coincidences and\or circumstances . . . both fortunate or unfortunate. PAST OZ is one man’s break from what he and those in his sphere, most solemnly, believed to be his lot in life. And going PAST OZ is that second—utterly self-determined—shot at life regardless of all the prevailing wisdom, and past realities, in one’s current world.
Q: What is your process when you write?
A: I write a million little notes to myself. Then like flood waters behind a beaver dam I wait for the pressure to build and the obstruction breached . . . then write in a white heat as the thoughts flush by. It’s exhausting but invigorating.
Q: Your biography says you only took one lit class, why only one?
A: Forget writing classes, as they might lessen one’s lonesomeness, they’ll do nothing for one’s writing—not like living the life of a writer.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)