Virtual Memories Show 373:
Kathe Koja

“Chaos is its own engine.”

Writer, performer, director and producer Kathe Koja rejoins the show to talk about her new story collection, VELOCITIES (Meerkat Press). We talk how she’s coping with the pandemic, the importance of having a good working relationship with chaos, and why Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker is more apropos than ever. She gets into her work in immersive theater and how it needs to be reimagined in this era of social distancing, while teasing out details of her new project, Dark Factory. We also get into the upcoming reissue of her cult novel The Cipher this September, why she’s bingeing on Babylon Berlin, the one thing she hoarded when things went sideways, why it’s important to be open to the messages the world sends us, and what to do when you find a pill lying on the floor in a hospital cafeteria. Give it a listen! And go buy VELOCITIES!

“If writing is not a conversation, it’s really nothing.”

“It’s like trying to argue with a river. If you learn to swim, or better yet float, you’re better off.”

“Dark Factory is about how we open up to the world, see what’s really happening, see how strange life really is.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Kathe Koja writes novels and short fiction, and creates and produces immersive fiction performances, both solo and with a rotating ensemble of artists. Her work crosses and combines genres, and her books have won awards, been translated, and optioned for film and performance. She is based in Detroit and thinks globally. Her most recent book is VELOCITIES, from Meerkat Press.

Follow Kathe on Twitter and Facebook, contribute to her Patreon, and listen to our previous conversation.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Kathe by Rick Lieder. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 372:
Tom Hart

“For my next book, I’m looking for a new form. Everything feels like the old form. I’m giving myself that luxury. I don’t owe this to anybody but my own creative satisfaction.”

Cartoonist and educator Tom Hart joins the show to talk about how the Sequential Artists Workshop (SAW) is adapting to the pandemic era. We get into Tom’s comics upbringing and his formative years in the Seattle scene, how he managed to avoid superhero comics during his formative years, my discovery of his debut, Hutch Owen’s Working Hard, in 1994, the value of pretension and his drive to bring literary notions to his comics, the experience that led him to create SAW, the challenges of teaching students half his age (& younger), ow teaching his helped him as a cartoonist, the new form he’s seeking for his next book, and why he’s hoping to get out of Florida. Give it a listen!

“In my own work, I’ve removed everything in the idea-generation phase, everything that’s not about death or absolute primal urges.”

“I realized upon reflection that what I was responding to with Peanuts was the heightened emotion contained in boxes & little characters. That was my way of interpreting the adult emotional world around me.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! And visit The COVID-19 Sessions for all those daily episodes about life during the pandemic.

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Adapted from his website:

Hi, I’m Tom Hart, a cartoonist. I started The Sequential Artists Workshop , a school and arts organization in Gainesville, Florida. Before that, I taught at School of Visual Arts for 10 years, a did a bunch of other stuff.

My book about my daughter, Rosalie Lightning, was a NY Times #1 bestseller and been translated into French, Italian, Portuguese and Chinese, and was featured on many best of 2016 lists, and was nominated for two Eisner Awards.

Before that, I was the creator of the Hutch Owen series of graphic novels and books. The Collected Hutch Owen was nominated for best graphic novel in 2000. I was an early recipient of a Xeric Grant for self-publishing cartoonists, and has been on many best-of lists in The Comics Journal and other comix publications. I was called “One of the great underrated cartoonists of our time” by Eddie Campbell and “One of my favorite cartoonists of the decade” by Scott McCloud. The Hutch Owen comic strip ran for 2 years in newspapers in New York and Boston, and his “Ali’s House”, co-created with Margo Dabaie, was picked up by King Features Syndicate.

I was a core instructor at New York City’s School of Visual Arts for 10 years, teaching cartooning to undergraduates, working adults and teens alike. Among my students were Dash Shaw, Sarah Glidden, Box Brown, and other published cartoonists like Leslie Stein, Jessica Fink, Josh Bayer, Brendan Leach , and many others.

Follow Tom on Twitter and Instagram. Check out B Is Dying on Instagram. Check out SAW on Instagram.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Tom by someone else. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 366:
Sato Moughalian

“I’m not a historian. I’m a musician who’s obsessed by cultural history, and environment, and filling in gaps.”

The phenomenal new book, Feast of Ashes: The Life and Art of David Ohannessian (SUP/Redwood Press), traces the history of an Armenian family from the mountainous woods of Anatolia to suburban NJ. Author Sato Moughalian joins the show to talk about her inspiration to write the life of her grandfather, ceramic tile artist David Ohannessian, the chronicle her family’s exodus through the Armenian Genocide, and how she had to prepare herself to visit Turkey as part of her research. We get into the multi-generational process of coping with trauma, the horrors of the Armenian Genocide and its ongoing denial, how her grandfather wound up helping retile the Dome of the Rock (while bringing Ottoman tile art to Jerusalem), and the way oral storytelling can capture styles that differ from family to family. We also talk through he music background (Sato’s an accomplished flutist), the creative community of NYC, her seven-year period of introspection and grief-work, and whether she’s considering another book, now that she’s got her first volume under her belt. Give it a listen! And go buy Feast of Ashes: The Life and Art of David Ohannessian!

“Grief and trauma were not the only things I inherited from my family.”

“In my family, oral storytelling was the way history was passed down from one generation to the next.”

“There’s an audience for music as a religious activity.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Sato Moughalian is an award-winning flutist in New York City and Artistic Director of Perspectives Ensemble, founded in 1993 to explore and contextualize works of composers and visual artists. Since 2007, Ms. Moughalian has also traveled to Turkey, England, Israel, Palestine, and France to uncover the traces of her grandfather’s life and work, has published articles, and gives talks on the genesis of Jerusalem’s Armenian ceramic art. Her new book is Feast of Ashes: The Life and Art of David Ohannessian.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Sato’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Ms. Moughalian by XXX. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show:
COVID-19 Bonus Mini-Episode

“I’m not one to rely on outside aids, but this time I felt like that jungle rat William Burroughs mentions in Naked Lunch, just responding to a hopeless situation by dropping dead on the spot.”

No conversation this time. Instead it’s me rambling on about the effects & fallout of COVID-19, and what it means for the future of the podcast. Give it a listen!

Enjoy the droning monologue! Then check out the archives for some great conversations!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

Credits: No music this time. The episode was recorded at my home on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of me & Amy by Amy, but it’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 360:
Otto Penzler

“Writing is hard. I’d rather do yard work than write. But this memoir was the least onerous writing I’ve done.”

The great publisher, editor, anthologizer, retailer and collector of crime fiction, Otto Penzler, joins the show to talk about his wonderful new book, Mysterious Obsession: Memoirs of a Compulsive Collector (Mysterious Bookshop), and his decision to auction off the world’s greatest collection of crime fiction (think ~60,000 first editions). We get into his instant regret about that decision, how it inspired this amazing memoir, and how he’s getting by without all those books (especially because he designed his house to accommodate an even larger collection). We discuss the changes in his Mysterious Bookshop and his other Mysterious pursuits (see links below) as the internet has warped book and retail culture, the camaraderie and friendships that he built over a lifetime of collecting, the mania that can strike during auctions, and the difference between collecting and reading. And we talk about how he learned to edit major writers for his anthologies (including a near-disaster with Joyce Carol Oates), the farthest he’s traveled to acquire a single book, the moment he realized he had a writing style and how that unlocked him as a writer, how he had to choose between Sherlock Holmes and the rest of crime fiction, the vagaries of fame and literary reputation as reflected in book collecting, and why he characterizes himself as a parasite in the mystery world (having done everything but writing a mystery novel of his own). Give it a listen! And go buy Mysterious Obsession: Memoirs of a Compulsive Collector!

“I came up with one word — MYSTERIOUS — and my creativity was finished.”

“This is an era of short attention spans, but collecting is not something you should be doing in a rush.”

“I don’t know what it is that keeps some authors or books highly regarded today, as opposed to others that have been totally forgotten.”

“If I can edit Joyce Carol Oates, I can edit anybody.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Otto Penzler is the founder of the publishing companies Mysterious Press, Otto Penzler Books, the Armchair Detective Library, Penzler Publishers, mysteriouspress.com, and Scarlet. He opened New York’s Mysterious Bookshop in 1979. He has written or edited more than 60 books, winning the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Awards for the Encyclopedia of Mystery & Detection and The Lineup. His library of nearly 60,000 first editions of mystery fiction went to auction in late 2018. His new book is Mysterious Obsession: Memoirs of a Compulsive Collector.

Here are the links to all the ways to keep up with Otto and his Mysterious Empire:

The Mysterious Bookshop
Website
Twitter
Instagram

Mysterious Press
Website
Twitter

Penzler Publishers
Website
Twitter

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at The Mysterious Bookshop on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Mr. Penzler by me. It’s on my instagram.