‘5 Questions’ Interview With Bernard M. Cox! @BernardMCox
Today I’m thrilled to welcome author Bernard M. Cox to the blog as part of the ‘5 Questions’ with authors interview series!
If you are an author who would like to participate in the series, fill out the questionnaire here! And if you are a reader who wants to suggest an author for the series, just send me an email!
Describe your short story The Memory of a Salt Shaker in ten words or less
Bert discovers a salt shaker containing Mira’s memories after her death.
Where or how did you come up with the idea for your story?
My partner gave me a challenge to write a story about an inanimate object that held some kind of power over the protagonist. However, what inspired the project was a piece on NPR about people who had survived a sudden, unexpected loss of a loved one. We often do not discuss death in our culture and I wanted to write a story that confronted the reader with that kind of loss. The story became an effort to reflect on the moments we have together in our brief existence. In order to write, I thought about how I would feel if I lost her and that thought fueled the story along.
Which of your characters (in this book) is closest to your heart and why?
It’s a tossup between Bert and Mira. The story is told from both their points of view. Bert tries to pull himself back to the land of the living by just doing — going back to work, meeting up with friends, making meals — but when faced with Mira’s memories that existence becomes a negative space devoid of meaning without her. Mira is happy in her life and with Bert. She lives to feel joy. When she is gone, we mourn the loss of that joy. Through Mira I remember why I love; through Bert I remember what it is to love.
Do you have a day job? If yes, tell us about it & how it affected your writing?
This is an interesting question, because I can say that when I wrote “The Memory of a Salt Shaker” I was a banker. And my partner was constantly worried about my safety, as robberies were commonplace. However, there is a greater concern present when asking this question.
The issue of working after the death of a loved one is a central issue to “Memory….” I have always thought that those of us who live in the States have strange habits and rituals about work. For example, I once met this man who was proud that he never missed a day of work even when his wife was dying of cancer. Now, I understand that he may have had to work during that time, but his emphasis was not on the need, rather it was in his pride. We could say that he couldn’t deal with the issue of her loss, but it seems to me that the greater issue confronting many of us is wrapped-up in the question you ask here: one’s reason for existence is inseparable from work. Through your question of “Do you have a day job?” you imply that my day job is not what I do/am but rather the activity that supports my reason for existing: writing stories. This is not to say that I am unaffected by this conflation of work and purpose; I cannot deny its power. But it is strange nonetheless, because I am not only a writer I am an activist, community organizer, supporter of artists, financial advisor, reader, cultural constructor, and most importantly a lover, partner, friend and family member. This is what work does to all the stories I write.
Tell us about an upcoming book or project you’re excited about
The next e-book is “The Space Within These Lines Is Not Dedicated” (now available) which is a novelette about a woman who is visited by a cicada who tells her she has three days to live, but before her imminent death she has to choose whether or not to give up her potential and all that entails. It’s about life, the universe, and everything; and tango, talking insects, and love.
Bonus Question! Fill in the blank: If you like ___, you’ll probably like my book too!
If you like Haruki Murakami, W.P. Kinsella, Ken Liu’s “Paper Menagerie,” and other slipstream, magical realism you may like my book, too.
Check out Bernard M. Cox’s Amazon author page for more info!
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