Today I am interviewing Keith Rosson, author of the new literary/alternate history novel, The Mercy of the Tide.
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DJ: Hey Keith! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Keith Rosson: Suuuuure. I’m an author and illustrator. Have a new book out, my first novel. Let’s see. I, uh, love libraries and book sales and halftones and distressed text and cassettes and punk. I did a long-running punk zine called Avow for years and years and then made the leap to fiction. The Mercy of the Tide is the fourth novel I’ve written in my life, and the first to be published. I wrote my first novel at 20, and it was understandably baaaaaaad. Then I wrote my second at 27 or so, and it was still pretty bad. Then I wrote my third, and it was better (titled Smoke City, it will be published in January 2018 by my glorious publisher, Meerkat Press) and then I wrote Mercy. In between, I write for music publications Razorcake and Rebel Noise, as well as penning short stories which have been published in placed like PANK, December, Cream City Review, the Nervous Breakdown, and more. Been twice nominated for a Pushcart. Finalist for the New American Fiction Prize and Birdwhistle Prize for Short Fiction. Currently writing a novel that revolves somewhat around a unicorn – no, seriously! – but there’s a significant part of me that can’t wait to finish it and get back to writing short stories.
DJ: What is The Mercy of the Tide about?
Keith: Can I just use the synopsis that the Meerkat folks and I came up with? After working on this book for so long and then hustling it for as hard as we have, I’ve kinda run out of wacky adjectives and new ways to describe it. Here goes. Riptide, Oregon, 1983. A sleepy coastal town, where crime usually consists of underage drinking down at a Wolf Point bonfire. But then strange things start happening—a human skeleton is unearthed in a local park and mutilated animals begin appearing, seemingly sacrificed, on the town’s beaches. The Mercy of the Tide follows four people drawn irrevocably together by a recent tragedy as they do their best to reclaim their lives—leading them all to a discovery that will change them and their town forever. That work?
DJ: What were some of your influences for The Mercy of the Tide?
Keith: Ooof. Tough one. I think it’s tough to avoid writing anything horror-related – and lofty literary elements aside, there are strong nods to horror in Mercy – without acknowledging the debt to Stephen King. He’s just the go-to guy in that field, at least for me. There’s also a passible nod to Robert McCammon’s Swan Song, if only for the fact that how deftly he handled so many points of view as well. Beyond that, I read a lot of fiction, and if you can blend literary stuff with genre fiction, I’m all in. All that stuff is bound to cause a collective seep, as it were. Which, as a side note, is a pretty good name for a grindcore band. Continue reading