Joey Dean Hale’s story “The Laborer” appears in Midwestern Gothic Issue 15, out now.
(Author photo copyright Kristin Hale.)
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing weird little stories and songs since I was a kid. And I wrote for our high school paper—The Wolves’ Howl.
What’s your connection to the Midwest?
I grew up in Clay County in southern Illinois, worked on our farm, worked construction, played music, went to college at SIU in Carbondale, and now I live in the St. Louis area—still out in the country though.
How has the Midwest influenced your writing?
The people, the weather, the outdoor activities and landscape. The farms and the towns. The whole Midwest mentality. I suppose that has all influenced me—both positively and negatively. And a lot of my fiction is influenced by actual events. For example, the Greg Arbeiter stories, such as “The Laborer” which you published, are based on my past jobs, etc… And my story “Huck and Tom in Southern Illinois circa 1983,” which you can find on the Fried Chicken & Coffee website (12/11/2012), is a postmodern take on Twain’s characters based on me and my buddy Tim Thompson.
Why do you believe there has never really been a regionalist push for Midwestern writing in the past like there has with the South or even the West Coast?
I think a lot of people outside the Midwest aren’t interested because they assume the stories will all be about watching the corn grow or something, but actually the Midwest is a large and diverse place and the art—fiction, poetry, music, etc.—is also very diverse.
How do you feel about social media to promote your writing, and do you use it?
I usually post recent publications and upcoming gigs on facebook. I’m not sure how effective that is, but it’s an easy way to promote yourself and your friends.
As a kid—The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Now—it’s a tough call but probably Joe by Larry Brown.
My mom’s blackberry cobbler, served in a bowl with milk poured over it.
If you could have coffee (or tea or a beer) with any literary figure, alive or dead, who would it be?
I’d like to have several more drinks with Kent Haruf. A great author and one of my favorite people.
Where can we find more information about you?