Exclusive Author Interview - Poet Karl Kristian Flores
Updated: May 25, 2021
Kristian Flores is a poet with a new book, The Goodbye Song recently published in May 1st, 2021. Read the interview below, where we talk about his writing and publishing journey.
Bio: Kristian Flores (born "Karl Kristian Flores," Oct. 20 1999 -- ) is a writer, and also known for his film and theatre performances as an actor and volunteer service awarded by President Obama, Rotary International, U.S. Congress, University of Southern California, City of Los Angeles, and more. Kristian was born in California, shifting around the San Francisco Bay Area under a single-parent household. His book, Can I Tell You Something? is a collection of 100 poems examining age, addiction, poverty, art, romance, friendship, and more. Kirkus Reviews commends Kristian's writing, calling it: "Poignant... and exquisitely crafted." UK's Neon Books, as well, paints an image of Kristian's style as an extraordinary thinker, saying: "The subjects Flores chooses to focus his gaze on are surprising... It sits in a liminal territory that too few poetry books inhabit." Flores' most recent book, The Goodbye Song, is available now on Amazon. (www.karlkristianflores.com)
Q: Can you talk a bit about how you got into writing?
A: I think the decision to write, like most decisions we face, came to me in two different agreements. The first was the natural urge to talk about things— my questions, secrets, and ideas. I started off with poetry and loved how fragile it is. I adore its form. This was the first-half of my introduction as a writer, and was more intuitive and emotional. The second wave of agreement came in my acting career. It was more of a cerebral decision to use language to share. Actors cannot choose where the story goes and by nature, lack the freedom to communicate messages that they prefer. I think, at least in my opinion, an actor can only be as good as what the playwright/screenwriter hid in their script. I did not want to wait until a script is made and I had so many questions spilling out of my head that I love philosophizing over, so I agreed that the best use of my time, when I am not acting, is to do the writing. That is to me how the greatest commitments can be made— a passion that is born and a reason to nurture it.
What was the inspiration for the book? What about the theme of 10s?
This book was born during the COVID-19 pandemic. I feel like we’re all going to start saying that now, right? Quarantine babies, COVID-albums, the whole lot! How historic! Around my 3rd year of university, I was homeless, along with my family. I had just released a collection of poetry titled, “Can I Tell You Something?” which revolves around the vulnerability of thought. But this book lacked what I could offer as an artist. It wasn’t complete. I wanted to detail the specifics of poverty, the desperation of the working class, and the head of characters who think about death everyday. Of course, the whole book isn’t about death and poverty, but I wrote every page with the intention that the topics being explored are serious and urgent enough to matter to every reader. It is not a romantic book. I view it more like a plead.
The structure— yes. I won’t act like there's some meaningful background to the numbers. There isn’t, haha. 10 was a number I liked and preferred to work with. The content however of recipes and entries and directions was a tactic. Bukowski told us that we live in the atomic age and that writing should never be boring. He talked about “juice” and “power” and I’ve always agreed that readers deserve to be anything, but bored. I thought about what writing really is and what it means to share. The answer I’ve come up with so far is that a writer is a worried person who picks up a pen and tells people, “Look!” And the things I want people to look at can best be experienced through the lens of a metaphorical recipe, a private letter, or a conversation between two young people on a football field. I get so nervous when people see my work. My brain goes by the second: “Oh goodness. Did you like that? This? Was it worth it?” Five minutes of someone’s time is enormous to me. The reader is precious and holding a book, enduring it with patience, is an incredibly personal experience as well; the idea of communication brings me to tears. It’s so beautiful and I needed to make something that is valuable, educational, whole, and adventurous.
How was the publishing process for you? Anything you’d do differently or advice for other writers after having gone through it?
Hire good people and thank them. If there’s any advice I can offer about publication, it is that no matter how cruel a company may reject you or how cold a website sounds when you come across their submission page, it’s only digital ink. Forget it— none of it matters. You wrote a book and a chunk of your mortality was dedicated to this assembly of language and that’s magnificent. Keep your spirits up. It really is something and you must always know that.
What do you hope readers get out of the book?
I write so that we can live unnaturally. Hopefully, my reader walks away examining the parts of their life that I offer in this book— especially the ugly, the perfect, and the everyday. We have plenty of emotional love poems and I am more interested in the other territories. Ultimately, if I were to sum anything up, I believe we have to agree on things for ourselves and that human beings have to try. You can read the synopsis of The Goodbye Song, but the book isn’t about ‘love and life.’ It’s about the page— a deformed man crying about a blue pen he found on the floor, an entry about someone scanning their leg hairs, and a kid walking around town who wonders what fire hydrants are. It’s the lines and not the category, for me. My favorite part in plays, novels, and movies is when a character admits some underlying truth/secret about us. You should see me. I’ll jump in the air in my apartment and scream, “YES! Thank you for saying that!” And this doesn’t mean strictly relatable content, but new ideas and nuance. In this book, these moments can be as mundane as someone falling in love with a stranger's collarbone or as sad as asking your parent to call you.
Do you have any goals for the book? What are they?
I’m so pathetic, but it’s true: I simply want people to read it. One time, I was buying food at a Chinese restaurant and ordered to-go. I heard the buzzing of the phones, saw the colors on the wall, the smell of meat cooking, and listened to the speedy conversations of the employees. I was overwhelmed. I thought: “How the hell can my writing be relevant to these people?” But it’s for them. My goal is for my book to matter to Chinese restaurants. To the homeless shelters across my street. To shivering bodies waiting at bus stops. To janitors who find a book someone left behind. That’s what I do sometimes. I order author copies and place my work around the city, hoping I could reach a reader who wouldn’t normally have the idea, courage, time, or reason to read a book.
Any plans for marketing? Any plans for writing in the future?
Social media is such a tricky thing. It is easy to fool myself into thinking my book has reached readers due to the immediate likes, comments, and shares I get on posts. But while I love my friends and family, I didn’t write for my inner-circle. I may as well have texted them a poem in the middle of the night. I am working on this— the idea that I can’t be tricked by the immediate. This book is a love letter to all the people I can never talk to or meet in my life— those born after me, or in another country, or farther away than my imagination. How can it live to reach them? Well, that’s the old age question. The practical answer is that I’m submitting it to magazines, other poets, radio stations, websites like yours, and strangers in California. If you are reading this and it makes it into your hands, it is all I can ever offer a person. Thank you.
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