C.S. Fuqua’s published books include White Trash & Southern ~ Collected Poems ~ Vol. I, Hush, Puppy! A Southern Fried Tale (children’s picture book), Rise Up (short fiction collection), The Native American Flute: Myth, History, Craft, Trust Walk (short fiction collection), The Swing: Poems of Fatherhood, Divorced Dads, and Notes to My Becca, among others. His work has appeared in publications such as Main Street Rag, Pudding, Dark Regions, Iodine, Christian Science Monitor, Cemetery Dance, Bogg, Year's Best Horror Stories XIX, XX and XXI, Amelia, Slipstream, The Old Farmer's Almanac, The Writer, and Honolulu Magazine.
In this interview with editor Dariel Suarez, he talks about exploring themes in an intimate level, about personal relationships, and about poetry. He also discusses his hobby of crafting and playing Native American Flutes.
Dariel Suarez: Can you share with us what prompted you to write “Radical” and “Trips”?
C.S. Fuqua: “Trips” is based on how experience changes the observer as well as the observed over time, in this case, a place I visited many years ago and fell in love with, only to return to find it no longer appealing, completely different from what I remembered. “Radicals” was inspired by personal experiences with acquaintances of fundamental faith condemning fundamentalists of another religious faith.
DS: What themes do you usually explore in your writing? Do you often draw from personal experience?
CSF: Most of the poems I write are based on personal experience enhanced by “what if” and explore themes that range from family relations to global warming, but the poems explore these themes on a personal and intimate level rather than on a grand scale. I much prefer the “personal,” especially when the poem conveys “story."
DS: Do you write in other genres? If so, what would you say is your favorite?
CSF: I publish in nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. And though I enjoy all forms, I prefer writing poetry. It’s extraordinarily challenging and rewarding to tell a story effectively in so few words. When it works, it’s a wonderful feeling.
DS: On your website you mention that you’ve had a lot of different jobs. Which ones would you say have impacted your writing the most?
CSF: I’m not sure that any particular job has had more or less influence or impact than any other on my writing. Personal relationships within each situation has affected my writing and my worldview more than the job because people are basically the same, no matter their roles or occupations in life.
DS: Can you tell our readers a bit about the books you’ve published?
CSF: My most recent, Muscle Shoals: The Hit Capital’s Heyday & Beyond, is a revision, expansion, and update of my first book, a history of the Muscle Shoals music industry, exploring the extraordinary affect and contribution artists and producers of the area have had on popular music. Last year, my first collection of poetry, White Trash & Southern, was published, collecting mostly previously published poems spanning the last three decades. A second collection is in the planning stage now.
DS: You also mention on your website that your hobbies include music and “crafting Native American flutes.” Can you tell us more about these hobbies?
CSF: I learned guitar when I was in my early teens and then became interested in the Native American flute after hearing the duo Coyote Oldman. In the early 1990s, I played a flute crafted by Coyote Oldman founder Michael Graham Allen and fell in love with the sound. Over the years, I learned to craft native flutes while exploring their rich history. That research resulted in the book, The Native American Flute: Myth, History, Craft, which is available online and through many bookstores. It also led me to produce two CDs of Native American flute instrumentals for meditation with a third one slated for later this year or early next. Music has been a refuge, that place where I escape when the world becomes just a bit too daunting.
DS: What can readers expect from you in the near future?
CSF: I’ve recently contracted on a science fiction/fantasy novel, entitled Wolfshadow, I cowrote with a friend who died a few years ago from cancer. It features a Cheyenne American Indian and positive, strong female protagonists, and I’m delighted that the book, based completely on my friend’s idea, has found a home. Other projects due in the coming year include a third CD of Native American flute instrumentals, a children’s book, and a second collection of poems spanning my career.
DS: What advice would you give young writers who find themselves interested in several different artistic mediums?
CSF: As Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss.” Explore them all. Don’t arrive at the end of your career, muttering “I wish...” or “If only..."