An Interview with Matthew Vollmer

As well as teaching creative writing, fiction, and composition at Virginia Tech, Matthew Vollmer is the co-editor of Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, “Found” Texts, and Other Fraudulent Artifacts (forthcoming in fall 2012 from W. W. Norton). His first book, Future Missionaries of America, is available via Salt Publishing and his second book, inscriptions for headstones, will be available from Outpost19 in October 2012. Marcus MacDonald, a poetry reader for the minnesota review, conducted the following interview.

Marcus McDonald: Let’s start off with some biographical information.  If you were an inanimate object, what would you be and why?

Matthew Vollmer: A tree. I love trees.

MM: Are you sure?

MV: Yes. But not a Christmas tree. A tree in a yard with Christmas lights, maybe. But there’s something terrible about Christmas trees, isn’t there? Cut down in their primes, hung with lights and worshipped, then tossed ignominiously to the curbs.

MM: Why do you think that your parents named you Matthew? Do you think that it was a good idea on their part?

MV: I come from a long line of Matthews. The name goes back generations. I had a great-great-great-great grandfather Matthew who, as a clockmaker in an alpine village in Switzerland, devised the world’s first player piano. Unfortunately, the plans were stolen by a Scotsman and Matthew died a penniless wretch.

MM: Why do you think people want to read your fiction?

MV: It provides eleven essential daily vitamins and nutrients.

MM: Why do people actually read your fiction?

MV: I doubt there’s one reason people do anything. I would hope that if somebody encountered something I’ve written that they’d get sucked into it. Like once they started, they wouldn’t have any choice but to finish it.

MM: Do you get weirdly connected to the characters in your stories? Like, do you ever have inappropriate dreams about them on accident? I mean, it doesn’t have to be like that either. Maybe you like cried when you killed one of them off or something?…

MV: If you’re not thinking about your characters when you go to sleep and when you wake up and when you’re working and reading and eating and traveling and doing whatever else you do during the day, you’re probably not weirdly connected to them. And thus, not connected enough.

MM: Because you’ve been working on Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, “Found” Texts, and Other Fraudulent Artifacts, I wonder if you are suspicious of this interview. Can you tell it’s fake?

MV: I had my suspicions.

MM: What do you think about being listed as “Hot” (indicated by a red chili pepper next to your ratings) on Do you think this relates you, in any way, to Flea, Anthony Kiedis, or John Whatever or the drummer?

MV: Chad Smith’s the drummer. And you forgot Frusciante, the original guitarist who wisely left after that album. I can only hope that the chili pepper acts as a sort of talisman that might allow me to gain entrance, as I travel into the realms of the non-ordinary, to the kind of creative space that the Peppers inhabited during the recording of Blood Sugar Sex Magik, which, as you most certainly know, was recorded in Harry Houdini’s house, which was believed to be haunted. You and anyone else in the world can watch the recording process by viewing the documentary Funky Monks, available here:

MM: What is the best television show that was ever aired according to you? (Unless, of course, you feel that you could quote a higher authority in television than yourself.)

MV: Everybody knows the greatest TV show in history is The Cosby Show. Each episode of this quintessential sitcom teaches vital lessons about interfamily dynamics (, fashion (, food (, and Cosbydancing (see:

MM: I’m running out of good ideas. Why don’t you ask me a question?

MV: If you could inhabit the body of someone else, ala Being John Malkovich, who would it be and why?


MM:  Do you have another favorite artistic medium other than writing?  That doesn’t include multi-medium art that involves writing: that’s just cheating.

MV: I like to draw and play music. I used to draw constantly in my college classes. I miss that. I also used to play guitar a lot. Now I’m mostly interested in piano, and working up a set list of covers which will include Motley Crue’s classic ballad “Home Sweet Home.”

MM:  This one is for the kids.  Show them a cool way to sign off.

MV: Thus ends our transmission.

Marcus is a Leo.  Marcus likes ghosts and candy that tastes like plastic.


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