Sins Of Omission, a flash fiction collection by DJ Berndt, released last week by Housefire, is one of the best freely available ebooks I’ve had the pleasure of reading in 2013. After reading it twice proper and ‘perusing’ it a number of times, I thought to contact DJ himself with a few questions about the book.
presumably there were a number of pieces that you chose to leave out of the final version of the ebook. could you tell a little about the process you went through trying to put together the final pieces for this?
There were a lot of pieces that were left out. HOUSEFIRE is awesome and always has the best prompts. One day Riley emailed me and asked me to send him 40 new stories in just under a week, and we edited it down from there. It was a lot of fun for me to do, but probably not as much fun for Riley because I constantly nagged him with new edits I wanted to include. Some of the original 40 were published elsewhere but some were scrapped entirely.
what was the inspiration for the title of the book and how is the theme of omission worked into the stories/chapters of the book?
The inspiration for the title of the book came to me as I was leaving AWP in Boston this past March. I didn’t give it a title until all the pieces were finished, so I wasn’t consciously trying to work in any themes as I was writing. Most of the stories have ambiguous elements though, so I guess it works well as a title.
My favourite pieces are ‘rain clouds’, ‘information super highway’, ‘the world is so dumb’, and ‘ambulances’. Could you say a few things about your thought process, aims, influences during the writing of one or two of those pieces?
Oh thanks dude, that’s nice of you to say. My original thought process was just to get some ideas or framework down for each story, since the prompt that started the whole thing was to write a lot in a short amount of time.
“Rain Clouds” and “Information Superhighway” are inspired by Socrates Adams’ writing. I love the way he writes absurd, simple stories in the first person and I was just copying his style.
“The World Is So Dumb” is built around callbacks, which is one of my favorite devices in both poetry and comedy. A lot of the stories in the collection are like that. I think that counts as an aim, right?
I’m not sure what I was thinking when I wrote “Ambulances.”
each story is accompanied by a piece of artwork, did you do those? if so, can you tell me a little about the artwork for the book and how it relates to the text?
I had nothing to do with the artwork, that was all done by the lovely Lindsay Allison Ruoff. She did such a good job with it. The first time I saw her finished product I smiled for 40 days straight. Thanks for that Lindsay, you are the best.
As somebody who is very passionate about chillin‘, what are your 3 favourite ways to relax?
1. Doing suicides on the tour bus.
2. Coming up in the spot lookin’ extra fly.
3. Incorporating Kanye lyrics into my everyday life.
I read in another interview that 2 big influences on your writing are James Tate and Zachary Schomburg. Besides writers, what else influences the tone and themes of your writing?
The ridiculousness in being a human. The awesomeness in this bald Earth. The joy and the fear in boredom. That unbridled potential in nothing.
You run the site Pangur Ban Party. How long have you been doing that?
I’ve been doing PBP for about 5 years. It used to be a lot more active, but then I got a lot more lazy.
What is the average amount of time from an initial submission to publishing a piece, and what involvement do you have in the final outcome/presentation of the Authors work as it is on PBP?
There isn’t an average amount of time involved in publishing a piece on PBP. Like 3 or 4 years ago I was putting one out every week, but now it’s just sporadic and random.
I do all of the design for the pieces, then send it to the author as a first draft and ask for feedback. After that we just work at it until we’re both satisfied with the finished product.
What is a pangur ban party, anyway?
Pangur Ban is a poem written in the 9th century about a cat. It’s a simple poem. The speaker is trying to write while he watches his cat run around. I thought it was a funny and playful name for a lit mag that I wanted to be funny and playful. I also really like the image of some monk living in the 9th century, chuckling to himself while watching his cat play and then writing a poem about it. Here is the poem.