Sunday, March 10, 2013


I have been tagged in the Next Big Thing by fellow writer Mary Glickman. Mary is the author of the novels Home in the Morning and One More River, a 2011 National Jewish Book Award Fiction Finalist. You can read Mary's Next Big Thing here:

Mary invited me to answer ten questions about my current work in progress and then to tag five other authors about their Next Big Thing. I've answered the questions, and I have to say I enjoyed it. I derive the most out of making art that is new in some way. My first short film was an homage to a filmmaker, but my second was all me, and I am most proud of it. I'm proud of my first book a standard memoir that's been well reviewed. The second book is in a form I created in order to tell the story effectively. Answering the following 10 questions has reaffirmed for me the value in the choices I made to tell my current story in the way I'm telling it. So, here goes!

What is the title of your new book?

The Sex Life of Andy Ashling, a serial memoir.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
After completing my second memoir, The Girl Who Had No Enemies (and the man who hated women), I outlined a novel and began developing the characters loosely based on true events. I guess I came to understand that even in the task of fictionalizing something I was drawing heavily on real life. I think I'm a better creative nonfiction writer than a fiction writer, at least for books. I love writing fictional screenplays. Anyway, I put the novel aside (I still plan to write it).

At 61, I looked at my life and realized the unique role that sex has played in it. My sex drive has ruled my life. It permeated my thinking. I've rarely, if ever, interacted with a woman, any woman, without at least wondering what it would be like to sleep with her. I didn't think much of this, until I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1992. Besides hyperactivity in thought and creative output, manic episodes include an intense sexual desire. In my youth—my mother described me as “high strung”—I took for granted that I was simply a restless soul. I never thought that I had a disorder.

I decided to write a book in which a man examines his sex life, looking at each unique episode. Obviously, no one would be interested in all the sex and lovemaking of a man's life. But key moments of experimentation, especially in my childhood, might prove interesting to a reader and also reveal things to me. I'm discovering things about myself with each episode. It's coming along nicely.

What genre does your book fall under?

Memoir, which is creative nonfiction.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I would think a film adaptation would need an actor who could play a man from his 20s into his 50s. Edward Norton (42) has a youthful, boyish look that could make the transition. Also, child actors that could play ages from four to the early twenties. They'd use a couple of actors or a half dozen, hard to tell.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Something like: Oversexed and Analyzed: the Sex Life of Andy Ashling.

Hard to know what the title of the final book will be. Right now “the book” exists as a series of 99 cent episodes. I'm on episode seven, Billy Hays' Sister and the Wild Boy. I foresee somewhere between 15-20 episodes. I'm terrible with titles. My best effort is the title of my first book, She Had No Enemies. Several agents told me not to change it. As for my current work, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Is your book self-published or represented by an agency?

I'm publishing the Andy Ashling series myself. I'll run the final book by my agent to see if he wants to handle it. I've had two agents. One couldn't get me a publishing contract for my first book. I don't think she knew how to handle it. The other agent got me an offer for my second book from a publisher who wanted me to rewrite the book in a true crime form. I looked at the types of books they published and couldn't see myself writing in that style. It's why I call my first two books literary true crime. It's a genre given to me by a couple of other agents who liked the book, but didn't know how to sell it either (a problem many agents had with it).

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About six months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I can't think of another book that is being written this way, or focuses almost exclusively on a man's entire sex life.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The desire to write something original in an original form. I received a grant in 1990 to make a 17-minute film from a script I wrote titled Rest Room. The story was interesting, but I wasn't satisfied with it until I got an idea in the editing room. I broke the film down into six segments and numbered them 1-6. Then I reordered them by putting the last segment first and the first segment next. The new order became 6,1,5,2,4,3. The audience had to put the story together in their minds. Ending the story in the middle (section 3) of the story emphasized its dramatic irony. I'd never seen a film like it and still haven't. Movies like Memento and Pulp Fiction, which do similar things, hadn't been made yet.

Also, I get to refer to my pseudonym, Andy Ashling, and that allows me some objectivity while writing subjectively, if that makes sense. I am very pleased with my book The Girl Who Had No Enemies. That book's form grew organically, as I wrote it, which made it very special to me. The reviews are telling me that it worked.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

Each episode is only 99 cents. The episodes are between 8-12 pages long. Starting with the first episode at age four, the reader can follow Andy's attitudes and behaviors as he ages and does or does not mature sexually. There are plenty of women, close to 70. Also Andy was sexually molested by men twice before he was 18.

So far, feedback from readers has been enlightening. I'd say half the readers of the first episode with whom I've spoken or corresponded see an element of molestation going on. I never saw it that way. I think people bring their own experiences into the intimacy of the narratives. Since these are true stories, one gets a glimpse into a specific part of the mind of someone with a lifetime of bipolar disorder.

Here are five authors I'm tagging to tell you about their Next Big Thing:

1. Ruth E. Walker is the author of the acclaimed novel Living Underground and co-author of the creativity resource book Inspiration Station

2. Gerry Mandel is an author and a playwright. His play Open Sundays, All Makes Repaired opens in St. Louis on 1/11/13. His novel Shadow and Substance: My Time with Charlie Chaplin is available in paperback and as an e-book. Gerry's entertaining blog Hey You Hoser can be found at

3-5 coming soon....

Thursday, January 3, 2013

HERDing Gnats Gives Midwest "S/Hemales Done Bang Rocks"

By DP Fleming, D Pressing News Senior Staff Reporter.

Check out my series The SEX LIFE of Andy Ashling and my memoir The Girl Who Had No Enemies: and the MaN WhO HaTeD WoMeN and She Had No Enemies at

On that fateful Sunday, March 28, 2010, HERDing GNats, in collaboration with the newly established D Pressing News Film Series, presented S/Hemales Done Bang Rocks—a new multi-media work by artist Arty Zweary. The event was held at the prestigious Win Fred's Whore Auditorium for admission prices of $8.00 regular, $3.95 seniors, $3.99 students. This reporter obtained a free pass by stripping off his clothes and attending nude.

Working on avant guarde films that exploit cabbage, Arty Zweary's work has shown locally on a TV set in East St. Louis, on a shoe sole near Tower Grove Park, and on an iPOD in the vicinity of University City's Loop area. Zwearian art is known internationally as "stuff that sucks".

S/Hemales Done Bang Rocks, was a multimedia event that featured someone's fingernails, dancers smoking broad-leafed weeds, and three-legged Ninja field mice in raincoats made from chicken beaks. Additional collaborators included dancer Trashy Fate, karate vegetarian master cook Banana PlumPudding, musician T-Bone Fishnet, and an ensemble playing ethnic music from the Area 51 airplane hangars in Nevada. The ensemble was led by legendary crosscut saw and biscuit player Rippy Heehaw.

Zweary showed a total of 5 videos: Medication on Morphine; Pansy-I-am; Blew Queer; Ballad Pee Mile*, and White What? (* indicates North American premier screening) .

will receive its world premier on February 31, 2010 at the BP gas station at Grand and highway 40. This reporter has been contracted to appear nude and unconscious at the event.

Conceptually, S/Hemales Done Bang Rocks arose from Zweary's quest to connect the art of two very famous artists: Pop artist Andy Warhol and Thomas Kinkade (MASTER OF LITE). On a 3-day journey to his basement, Zweary searched his laundry room for posters of Kincadian and Warholian works for a video he was creating, entitled White What?

Over the course of his 72-hour travels, Zweary sent three text messages to friends on the second floor of his home. The messages documented his round trip journey from a light switch to his liquor cabinet. These text messages were used as a 10-second narratives, read by Zweary, that interrupted the films in a very gone way, Daddy-O.

In Zweary’s words, “My videos were born when I finally succumbed to the glitches in my camcorder very early in 2010. At that time I could see musical possibilities by mixing editing errors caused by my sticky keyboard and hiccups from spicy food during Windows XP crashes. I also see single-framed dead people in my dreams."

To open the show, musician Rippy Heehaw cut stale biscuits with his crosscut saw synchronized with three parking lot attendants banging flashlights on sacks of wet socks. Trashy Fate, funeral director of the "Dancing Corpse Company", and a recipient of the Grateful They're Dead Award, accompanied Medication on Morphine by lying on the floor and breathing. Dressed in a Snuggie blanket (as seen on TV!), Banana PlumPudding spread gallons of clotted cream on herself as the film Pansy-I-Am's images were displayed on it. (This reporter slipped on some cream clots and jammed a pencil in his ...but I digress.)

Finally, local multi-instrumentalist T-Bone Fishnet slowly poured Schlafly's beer from a magnum bottle into a tub of orange Jell-O from a height of ten feet during the screening of Ballad Pee Mile. The orange-peely flavor of the beer made it difficult, but not impossible, for this reporter to get hammered and ignore remarks about the size of his genitalia.

Most enjoyed the special evening which included complimentary Cheese Whiz on nicotine flavored cardboard and plenty of Jell-O flavored beer. The evening raised STRANGE and WONDERFUL questions over the appropriateness of the admission price.

No rodents were harmed until after the show when they were attacked by gnats herded from the auditorium.

5 out of 4 stars!