1) Who cares?
Why would anybody care what any artist has to say? It’s an essential part of our humanity, that’s why. As Tolkien said, our desire to create comes from our own creation in God’s image. “We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming 'sub-creator' and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall.” We are the only beings in the material creation who have the sneaking suspicion, perhaps even the faith, that something greater than ourselves lurks about out there. For one human being to express that suspicion, and for another to receive it as a hope, or aspiration, or affirmation, is the work of humanity.
2) Just who do you think you are?
I think I’m the next Frederick Buechner, if he had been a product of the South, perhaps like William Faulkner. I think I’m the next Flannery O’Connor, if she had been a post-Vatican II, post-Jesus Movement, post-Civil Rights Movement evangelical Reform theologian, like John Piper. I think I’m Wilfred O’Flannerpipe.
3) Come on now, who are you really?
Actually, I’m Craig Davis, a recovering journalist who spent 20 years designing pages, writing headlines and columns, drawing graphics and making no impact at all as an editorial cartoonist. Born and bred in Memphis, the land of pulled pork barbecue and Elvis (though neither ever did me any good), I left town to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Missouri before moving back to West Tennessee. I have written four scripture-based novels and an in-depth study of the Book of Esther, all of which will rock your world. I’m here today to introduce you to A Time for Poncey - And other Stories out of Skullbone. It is an episodic collection of short stories based on Ecclesiastes, with hints of Joyce’s Ulysses and Thurber’s Secret Life of Walter Mitty, as well as other surprises scattered within. Throughout runs a wry and dark humor. Beyond that, I’m an amateur musician, once wrestled to the ground by a set of bagpipes. I have two grown daughters and one dog who refuses to grow up.
4) What do you write?
Well, I started out writing fantasy-action-adventure based on Scripture, because I know that pretty well, then I took up the corporate world as my premise, because of my work experience. That project has been my most successful book – The Job: Based on a True Story (I Mean, This is Bound to Have Happened Somewhere) is a comic novella based on Job, and the Kindle edition has gotten some traction. It’s a hoot, and the underlying messages sneak up on you. Next I turned my attention to short fiction, Southern Gothic in particular, hoping that I could get some notice through literary journals. A Time for Poncey is my first foray into this genre. I use these and other stories to write about broad themes, such as the Church’s sojourn on Earth, God using the weak to defeat the strong, the ongoing battle in the heavenlies, and so on. But you have to read between the lines! I want my readers to finish a story and say, “What just happened?” I want them to say, “I get it, but I can’t explain it.” So the answer to the question is, it’s pretty eclectic.
5) Why the South?
After Question #4, all I’ve got left that I really know is the South. And of course that region has a long history of great writers and a unique voice. Having deep roots in traditional Christianity, it also affords the promise of a Christian literature. Most modern Christian writing is either how-to books (be a better husband, be a better mother, be a better acolyte) or simple genre fiction with an obvious faith spin. Western Christians seem to be locked into a mindset of replicating material pleasures but being more holy about it. O’Connor called this the “golden heart” – which she said was fatal to fiction – what I would describe as “Precious Moments” writing. The typical grotesque and metaphysical elements of Southern Gothic lend themselves to exploring mystery and wonder, the relative suffering of life vs. death, the dichotomy of life in Christ and in the world. Hence A Time for Poncey – do not look for easy answers, and expect to be challenged. These stories are designed to keep you thinking long after you’ve finished reading.
6) What’s the best bit of presidential trivia you know?
Well, Martin Van Buren was from Kinderhook, NY. When he was running for president, the nickname “Old Kinderhook” was pinned on him as a good ol’ boy, and the shortened version, “O.K.”, came to mean that everything was, well, OK. Now it is the most common word in the world, coming from one of the most inconsequential presidents. Of course, all that is open to interpretation.
7) Anything else you would like to say?
I would like to say thanks to the Pulitzer committee. I’d like to say, “Sure, I think it’d make a great movie.” I would like to say the hilarious video of kittens reading an excerpt from Poncey has gotten a million hits on YouTube. But I suppose you want to keep this interview within the confines of reality. So I’ll just say thanks, and the peace of Christ be to you all.