Author Interview: B.F. Spath
After reading his debut (and fascinating) novel, The Sun Temple, I was able to have an interview with B.F. Spath. It turns out he is just as intriguing in person as he portrays himself in the book.
About The Sun Temple
Lisa Hodorovych: In The Sun Temple, we follow a man who leaves his dismal abode to “worship” Battery Park, the sun, and the “Divine Plant.” Are these like your memoirs? As we don’t learn who the main character truly is, are you telling your story of your time in NY?
B.F. Spath: Yes, this is absolutely autobiographical and deeply felt. The events described (and embellished!) in the novel took place in 1992. At the time, I wrote a very short piece—about a page and a half—with no intention of turning it into a book, or publishing it, or anything else of the sort. I wanted to keep the narrator unnamed, so as to further disenfranchise him, and deny him a fixed identity.
Lisa: Your book, The Sun Temple, is so poetically written, but was published as a novel. How come? Why not make it a book of poems?
Mr. Spath: Because I feel that working in prose is my strong point and interest. However, I have been toying with the idea of structuring my current WIP as a weird kind of hymnal, or book of spells & incantations. We'll see…
Lisa: Do you consider yourself a writer, a poet, or something completely different?
Mr. Spath: I’m a writer who has consciously and unconsciously adopted a certain “voice” that hearkens back to the florid and frantic stylings of Thomas DeQuincey, and other famous drug addicts, such as William Burroughs.
Lisa: What would you say if I called you the Master of Personification?
Mr. Spath: I would be O.K. with it because all of my writings seem to be about the ‘self’, and identity. Fernando Pessoa’s Book of Disquiet is perhaps my favorite book, and he wrote from several different personas of his own invention.
Lisa: I saw on your website that you are also a painter and a musician. Who or what inspired you to do all of these things?
Mr. Spath: Well, I was indelibly impressed by the music I grew up listening to in the 1960’s, and I tried to create my own music using that as my template. Painting was a real struggle for me—perhaps it wasn’t my real work.
Lisa: I also saw on your website you did mixed martial arts. How come you did/tried so many different fields?
Mr. Spath: The reason that I tried so many different things was that I didn’t know who I was—or what my purpose (if any!) was on earth. In short, I was hopelessly lost and adrift—for decades! The Sun Temple was born out of this aimlessness and entropy.
In 1976—1980, I attended The School of Visual Arts, and met John Perretti in the foundation painting class. He was a martial arts instructor who would go on to create what is today called the Mixed Martial Arts. He invented it!
Lisa: After doing everything and trying everything, what was the deciding factor for writing? Or are you still doing everything, plus writing?
Mr. Spath: No, I stick exclusively to writing these days. The reason that I chose writing was that I was told by my Native American friends that writing is my real work. They possess great psychic abilities and I trust them implicitly!
I didn't start writing until I was in my late 50's—so I need to make up for lost time. I have at least three more novels that I want to write. Time is of the essence!
Lisa: Who is/was your favorite writer, painter, musician, and/or mixed martial arts expert? Did you aspire to be like them?
Mr. Spath: Writer: Fernando Pessoa
Painter: Chuck Connolly
Musician: Jimi Hendrix
Pessoa has been a big influence, not so much stylistically, but more from his ontological standpoint of alienation, isolation, and displacement. As far as style, I take great inspiration from Thomas DeQuincey.
Lisa: Who or what inspired you in life?
Mr. Spath: The entire decade of the 1960's!
Lisa: Do you have a writing process? Are you like me where you write your stories out first before typing them up (a.k.a. “old school”)? Or do you go straight for the laptop?
Mr. Spath: I use a ballpoint pen and classic Composition notebook. I scribble furiously in coffee shops, spewing petty complaints, curses, and imprecations. I then head over to the library to transcribe anything (if any) that I deem worthwhile. The journals themselves appear often in my stories, and are one of the main sources of my narratives.
Lisa: What advice would you give to an aspiring writer, like me?
Mr. Spath: Don't think too much about writing—at least at first. Just loosen up and let it flow: write! Then think about it, edit, revise, or throw it away. Oh, yes: and read voluminously!
Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing
Lisa: In a world of self-publishing vs. traditional publishing, which would you prefer/recommend to an aspiring writer?
Mr. Spath: I think that self-publishing has slowly become a more attractive option. But both have their pros & cons.
Actual Name vs. Pen Name
Lisa: Some people write under their actual name, while some write under a pen name. Which do you think is better?
Mr. Spath: I publish under the pen name "B.F. Späth", for very specific reasons: I have a namesake (Brian Spaeth) on the West coast, who is also a writer, and whenever anyone searches my name, his name comes up.
My brother was recently researching our family history, and discovered that our family name was originally spelled "Späth" (with an umlaut!), and around 1900 was changed to "Spaeth". Problem solved! Plus, how can I lose with an umlaut in my name?
Lisa: If you could teach a class (high school, college, or workshop, etc.), what would you teach?
Mr. Spath: It is a moot point, because I am mentally, emotionally, and constitutionally unsuited for teaching.
Lisa: May I have one interesting factoid about yourself?
Mr. Spath: I'll give you three:
1—Don't have a television 2—Don't have a cell phone 3—Have never driven a car
This makes me a terrorist, a kook, and a traitor.
Thank you again, Mr. Spath for taking the time to talk with me and answer my questions! It was an absolute honor and it is truly appreciated!
If you would like to learn more about B.F. Spath. his books, and where you can purchase them, please check out his website, http://bfspath.com/.
Remember, I did not get paid to write the review on The Sun Temple nor am I getting paid to interview Mr. Spath. I'm just a fellow writer and fan showcasing the work of a great author. If you have any questions or would like to be featured on my blog, please don't hesitate to contact me.
**This post was originally published on July 20, 2019**