BookLife Talks with A.V. Bach
A sponsored Q&A with the author of 'Eisenstein’s Monster'
For those unfamiliar with Eisenstein’s Monster, would you describe it?
Eisenstein’s Monster is a novel about a man dying of cancer in the language centers of his brain and his search for an existence beyond the dwindling limits of his body. That search becomes an abstract, existential journey into the relationship between mind and body—one that covers a wide array of styles, genres, themes, locations, characters, and tones, each of which inform or riff on one another. As the cancer spreads and morphs, so too do the language and story structures.
What is the story behind Eisenstein’s Monster? Why and how did you write it?
I wanted to write a book that used film’s method of placing disparate scenes together for the audience to assemble subconsciously along with literature’s explorations of weighty topics such as identity, death, and, especially, language. I’d queried a handful of agents, but the novel was a bit of an unruly creature and I was an unknown author. Then, while living in a particularly violent neighborhood in Chicago—a stray bullet went through the house on our right, a drive-by targeted the house on our left—I realized that I could very well meet my demise while the novel was wading through slush piles and that my biggest regret would be it never getting to see the light of day. So, I decided to publish it on my own, a frightening and humbling experience that would, at the very least, leave behind a proof of concept should a stray bullet take me out. The fact that Kirkus named it one their Best Indie Books of 2019 still blows my mind!
As someone who has completed their first novel, do you have any advice for writers starting their first book?No one ever climbs a mountain by just walking up to one and climbing it. You start small, learn the techniques, see how others have done it before you, ask for help and guidance—folks are willing to give it! And then, when you’re ready to tackle the monolith, just remember that a mountain is climbed one step at a time. Don’t worry about the top; just focus on one piece at a time. Eventually, you’ll find yourself looking down from the summit and wondering how the heck you just did that.
What is the one thing you most want to tell readers about you or your book?
Don’t let the format, page length, or occasional high diction intimidate you. The novel is not a riddle with only one correct answer. The book leaves each reader with a different impression—that’s the point. Your reading will be different from anyone else’s. Just think of the book as your personal roller coaster, one made just for you, and remember to enjoy the ride!
What’s your next project?
I completed the manuscript for my second novel years before Eisenstein’s Monster was published. I’m still picking at that one and would like to find it a home with a traditional publisher, along with Eisenstein’s Monster. It’s a behemoth and part of a trilogy. I’ve also completed the manuscript for a graphic novel and scripts for a TV series based on it. And I’m currently working on writing and producing a horror movie I hope to start filming in September. I just started a new band as well. I’ve never had issues with writer’s block—just time block!—and the lockdown has given me a bounty of time for my various projects, be it writing or music, though I certainly wish it were for less unfortunate circumstances.