This is Todd Seabrook. Todd’s real first name is William, but that’s no matter. He hails from Ohio, was educated in Colorado, and is working on scoring his Doctorate from FSU as. you. read. Along with getting a host of awesomeness published over the years, his chapbook, The Imagination of Lewis Carroll, was the winner of this year’s chapbook contest at Rose Metal Press. We’re celebrating its release here in Atlanta at a big ol’ party at the Highland Ballroom, hosted by 421 Atlanta (who published his collection The Passion of Joan of Arc earlier this year) and Rose Metal Press. To celebrate, Todd allowed me to awfully interview him.
So, Todd. (Or should I call you William? Mr. Seabrook? W.T.? – you tell me!) with release about Joan of Arc and Lewis Carroll now, I’m guessing you’re a bit of a historian. Is that true?
I have always gone by my middle name, a family tradition that was created, I assume, to make sure there is always a source of confusion in my life. So you may call me Todd, thereby fulfilling my parents’ penchant toward single-syllable middle names, chaos.
If I am a historian, I am a terrible one. It does not take an acute reader to know that Joan of Arc did not actually burn at the stake before standing witness in her own trial, or that Lewis Carroll did not kill the same person twice in two separate duels. But I still maintain these biographies are very accurate, except for all the things that didn’t actually happen, of course. I’m guessing such a statement does not qualify as good historical methodology, but these books are not interested in history so much as the individual characters. I am a fan of Joan of Arc and Lewis Carroll, and I write their life as a fan would. Their stories have been in our culture for centuries, and have somewhat fossilized over the ages, shorn and condensed into banal trivia questions. In order to show what they accomplished—Joan of Arc, a 19-year old girl, single-handedly saving France from becoming England II, and Lewis Carroll telling a story one afternoon on a whim that is still being told today—accuracy took a back seat to the dramatic, the colossal, the impossible. I am a fan, not a historian, and these books are my noblest attempts at true fan fiction.
Historical fan fiction – I like it! What other historical figures are you a fan of? I’m a total fangirl for Teddy Roosevelt, personally.
I have written two other magical realist biographical chapbooks—if that’s what these can be called—one on J. Robert Oppenheimer and one on Steve Prefontaine. I would also add Robin Hood into my list of favorite historical figures even though he never actually existed. But obviously such quibbling details concern me not. It is an incongruous melee of people, who share very little with each other (different eras, countries, ages, talents), but they all stand out to me as people who were exceptional at what they did, and that is why I am drawn to them.
Great choices! Wouldn’t it be funny if they all did have something in common that we just couldn’t possibly be aware of this day and age? For instance, maybe they all had a peanut allergy. Or maybe none of them were very apt at climbing trees.
What if I am their only connection, and they all existed solely so that I could write about them in a series of limited-run chapbooks. What grand design!
Wow! That’s so Being John Malkovich. Remember that movie?
I do, one of Kaufman’s best.
I couldn’t agree more. Did it make you want to take up puppetry, a little? Do you think you’d be good at that? Do you have any other comparable secret hobbies the world should know about?
In a related field to puppetry, I am a juggler, and own a set of juggling balls and pins. I am also a marathon runner, which is why I have a preoccupation with Steve Prefontaine. Aside from running and juggling, my friends know me as a lover of cats, a fan of science-fiction and ICP, and a collector of beer caps, which, as I see them all together, seems like another odd assortment.
That is quite a menagerie of talents. Will you be juggling at this Saturday’s reading? No pressure! But other than your juggling act and reading – what are you looking forward to most about this weekend’s festivities?
I will be dressed as the Mad Hatter for the reading, and I may bring my juggling balls, or maybe even my pins, just to delight the crowd. I can’t wait to see who else will be dressed up for the event, and I am looking forward to reading with Laird Hunt (making a reading-Laird-Hunt sandwich). All in all, I can’t imagine a launch party that could be any more fun than this.