Baptisms & Dogs: Stories

Baptisms & Dogs: Stories - B.L. Tucker 

I grew up reading short stories. And I'm not talking about Dr. Seuss and other children's books. I started reading Ray Bradbury at a fairly young age, and was delighted by the concept of the short story. 

One might think that they're *easier* to write than a full length novel, but I would argue that it takes a special skill set to create an entire book of short stories that flow together and don't leave the readers feeling disjointed or confused. 

B.L. Tucker accomplishes that quite well in his book Baptism & Dogs: Stories. While I have to admit that I did not fully understand what was happening in a few of the stories, that didn't make them any less enjoyable. I am grateful to books that force me to think a little bit. 

The writing is well put together and each story gets to the meat of the issue quickly, leaving out the fluff and filler that many books include. I did read most of it in one sitting, but I liked not feeling that I had to. 

Overall the conversational tone of this work is wonderful and well put together. I recommend this collection if you're looking for something a little different than your normal everyday read. 

Some Bio Information

Writing started as a result of reading. He blames it all on BookIt. It started in elementary school and proceeded to follow him into adulthood. If you recall the program, they had this amazing opportunity to offer a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut each week, just by adding more books to your "read" list. He read and read and read all for that elusive...pepperoni pizza. His mom loved that he read so much, but she also grew tired of taking him to Pizza Hut. To this day, he can't visit "the hut" without thinking about books! As a result of all that reading (and pizza), came the desire to put words onto the page. 

Brian has been fortunate enough to be published in "The Story Shack" (Fall 2014) along with other fine print (and online) journals from 2010-present. In June 2014, he had his first collection of short stories published, titled: "Baptisms & Dogs: Stories," and it's currently available in print (and Kindle form) on Amazon. It was a 2012 Finalist for the Linda Bruckheimer Series in Kentucky Literature competition.

Follow Brian on Twitter: @TheBrianTucker 
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1.    Tell us a little bit about the process of writing this book. 

This collection, Baptisms & Dogs: Stories, is the formation of MFA program requirements (Write! Write! Write!) and the desire to write about a fictional region that embraces the “down and out” personalities rather than simply tossing them aside.

2.    Who is your favorite author? 

Charles Portis is way up on my list. So is Larry Brown and Harriette Simpson Arnow. She’s actually from my hometown of Monticello, KY. (I want to write something about ½ as special as The Dollmaker was for the literary canon.) 

3.    Where do you draw your inspiration? 

Place obviously has a lot to do with it. I tell people I have the strongest sense of place imaginable, because I grew up in southeastern Kentucky. The people are real. Their honesty and commitment is real. I couldn’t be luckier, when it comes to having great inspiration. Storytelling makes the region even better, if that’s possible. Everyone I know tells a pretty good story at home!

4.    What is your favorite story in this collection? 

Humor is something I want to develop in my writing. This collection boasts some of that, and I’m sure it was over-the-top in places. I love being able to write about humorous moments in a person’s day-to-day environment. Maybe it’s the copier not working. Maybe the pizza delivery person walks fifteen times around the building before asking for help. There is humor in the everydayness of life. For these reasons, I enjoyed writing about the “slice of life” moments that characters’ exemplified. If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be The Coke Man’s Trip. It’s humorous in a very dark, rushed moment, and somehow, even that moment allows a laugh to reach the surface. 

5.    What made you want to become an author? 

In some ways, I don’t feel I had a choice. I love reading stories. As a result, I think about my own. They just kind of rattle around. But, I only put some on paper, when I’m forced to. The MFA program I mentioned earlier (Bluegrass Writers Studio) helped me with that a lot. Consistently, I’d be sitting in a hotel room for work, and my online course would meet at night, and I’d chime in online, and I was required to have NEW work to present each week. Without that pressure, I might not have written these regionally-based tales. (And once again, I write because Harriette Simpson Arnow wrote The Dollmaker.)

6.    What is your least favorite part of the writing process?

For me, it’s the isolation. Writing is uncomfortable for me. There’s a keyboard, and I wrestle with it. I’d rather be talking to someone. Yes. I’m the awkward, extroverted writer. Rare and painstakingly annoying at writing conferences. ISOLATION is not my friend.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

My novel is the ultimate goal this year: 2015. I’m on the 5th revision of a Young Adult—Middle Adult action/adventure tale. It’s my first novel. It needs editing still, and I’m nervous, because it doesn’t quite fit into a neatly-labeled genre. (This story is religious fiction with a male teen protagonist.) Once this one finds a home, my ultimate writing goal will inevitably change. I’d love to write a memoir. [Call it literary restlessness, but I promise I’m not out to intentionally write in every genre.] Going back to that strong sense of place, I really would like to tell a much more intimate story about self, place, and purpose. We shall see…