Last April, I got to be a part of a reading at the Saints & Sinners Literary Festival with some of my fellow contributors to Not Just Another Pretty Face, including David Pratt, who read from his dark and atmospheric piece with an enthralling voice. He also realized, as he started to read his piece that involves a very twisted mirror and reflection, that there was a mirror on the other side of the room, and the image he’d chosen for the story was reflecting in it via the screen behind him.
Art, as they say, imitates life.
Ever the professional, it was a great reading, and you wouldn’t have guessed about the creepy factor of the mirror coincidence. He joins us today for a brief Q&A about his piece.
Twenty-three photos of male go-go dancers become the basis for stories, poems, essays, and drama by twenty-seven authors, revealing unexpected mysteries, romance, fantasy, and humor. Contributors include 2015 Sue Kaufman Prize winner Michael Carroll, 2013 Lambda Mid-Career author Trebor Healey, and Lammy winners Jeff Mann, David Pratt, and Jim Provenzano.
NB: Not Just Another Pretty Face was a unique experience for me in that it began with a photographic prompt. How did you select your image, and how did your piece evolve from the image?
DP: I was touched by the model’s vulnerability. I saw vulnerability in his eyes, and I saw fear, and I wondered, fear of what? Not that my piece directly answers that.
NB: You have a wide range of voice. Bob the Book had this lovely self-deprecating charm, Looking after Joey was full of sly humour (and not just a little bit of amusing social commentary), and your tales in My Movie cover wide ground. Do you intentionally head in different directions when you write, or are you letting the story take the reins, as it were?
DP: Actually, the humor in Joey is twined with a sadness and an almost tragic sensibility, how beautiful and absurd and heartbreaking it is to live in this world. I hadn’t necessarily planned all that, but I enjoyed doing it. The same in Bob. The first mention of the book burning actually gets a laugh at readings, because it surprises people as one more way the conceit plays out that they weren’t anticipating. Then, later on, the burning is described, and it’s pretty horrifying. I did know, when I started my piece for Not Just Another Pretty Face, that I didn’t want it to be stereotypically sexy or erotic. That seemed like the easy way to go. Maybe that’s why I picked a face that looked vulnerable and haunted, even at so young an age.
NB: Well, you succeeded. It’s a haunting story, and I found that the contributors all seemed to go in very different directions, which was fascinating. Not Just Another Pretty Face has poetry, a play, nonfiction, and short fiction—and, of course, the photographs, which makes it a fairly unusual collection. I’ve been asking everyone: Is there a style of anthology, or an anthology theme, you’d love to see (and contribute to)?
DP: I can’t think of one. It’s often about the editor, not the subject matter. In this case, I wanted to do it because it was Lou Ceci asking me.
NB: More Louis Flint Ceci it is, then.
You can find Not Just Another Pretty Face at Beautiful Dreamer Press here, or check with your nearest brick-and-mortar store via Indiebound. Or, of course, ask for it wherever quality LGBT books are sold.
David Pratt is the author of the Lambda Award-winning novel Bob the Book (Chelsea Station Editions) and Looking After Joey, a novel from Wilde City Press.
His short stories have been collected in My Movie, also from Chelsea Station. He has published in several periodicals and anthologies.
He has presented work for the theater in New York at HERE, Dixon Place, the Cornelia Street Cafe, the Flea Theater and the NY International Fringe Festival.