Three Room’s Press’s new Fall release, THE OBAMA INHERITANCE: 15 Stories of Conspiracy Noir, has entered the world, and we’re launching it off right with a series of cross-country events featuring author readings and discussions. On Thursday, November 2nd, “Evens” author Nisi Shawl is taking over Third Place Books-Ravenna, in Seattle, and on Friday, November 3rd, East City Bookshop in Washington, D.C. is hosting “The Psalm of Bo” author Christopher Chambers. To whet your appetite for these phenomenal events, Three Rooms Press co-founder Peter Carlaftes offers a mini Q&A with Shawl and Chambers!
With so many conspiracy theories about President Obama available, why did you choose the one you chose for your story?
Nisi Shawl: I picked the premise I chose for “Evens”—Ruth Bader Ginsburg cloning herself—because I believe the composition of the US Supreme Court is one of Obama’s most significant legacies. Its significance naturally makes it a topic for speculation and rumor-mongering. The manipulation of legislative hearings preventing Obama from naming Scalia’s replacement was only very slightly removed from that rumor-mongering. Also, Ginsburg is an interesting figure who has a vivid personality and an active, fervent following. Prime fiction material, in other words.
Christopher Chambers: I chose the Bo and Sunny angle because a long time ago, Walter Mosley, in a past anthology Black Pulp told me not to take the road less traveled, but rather “cut a new one.” Now, he wasn’t being profound . . . he just wanted me to stop pestering him so he could work on his own story! The snark coming from wingnuts, racists, etc. over something as innocuous as dogs made me wonder what would happen if I took the opposite end of the continuum from innocuous, then multiplied by a hundred.
Why do you think it is important to create alternative fictions of the conspiracy theories made up about President Obama?
NS: In reaction to those hating on Obama we can laugh or get mad. Or do both, which is what irony consists of, IMO. By pushing these ridiculous scenarios to their logical extremes and detailing all their absurd glory, it’s possible for us to simultaneously highlight their impossibility and have fun!
CC: I think amazing times inspire amazing art. These stories season and compliment those times. Not out of fawning worship to the man, but to provide texture and tribute to the times. It’s like someone who comes along to correct a nasty rumor, and does it with a wink and smile. Or a cold glare. Either works.
What do you hope the impact of your story and this anthology will be?
NS: First, I hope people will enjoy the humor and playfulness I wrote “Evens” to refresh their souls with. Second, I hope my story will cause people to pay attention to the issues at stake, and the way they affect all our lives, and the bases on which those issues are decided. Maybe readers will get a little more involved, chuckling inside themselves all the time over what I wrote.
CC: I’m hoping the impact of my story will be to help propel the collection as a bestseller. That’s the practical side. Otherwise, I’d love readers to parse the many layers of the story’s allegory and irony, spot the hidden Obama quotes and quotes by other famous people, and know that yeah, the dog is here to redeem us. Woof.