Author Spotlight: Adam Middleton-Watts

1203130847aAdam Middleton-Watts has had work published in Art Times, Illuminations, The Laughing Dog, con, Into the Teeth of the Wind, Iconoclast, and Rambuctious Review.

Amoskeag: In Boy, your main character, Glen is annoyed but passive with Beth. Even though he is not the father of Beth’s son, he still sends her money each month for the boy. Beth continues to believe he is the father. How did they get to that point in their life? Why do they see the world the way they do?

Adam: I believe what still connects these characters during the brief time of the story is similar to the destructive force that initially drove them apart. It is as simple and as complex as no longer seeing things in quite the same way, but yet, they are unable to fully distant themselves from one another, which would clearly be the healthy thing to do. For Glen, the connection is purely one of guilt. The boy represents for Glen the inability to “fix” things, to change things. It is a blatantly obvious difference (the boy is black, the adults he views as his parents are white) that cannot be successfully dealt with. The boy is not Glen’s son (it is not even certain that he’s Beth’s child either), but he represents a chance for Glen to correct the transgressions of his past. If he can help the boy survive the dysfunction of his childhood living with Beth, then Glen can possibly see this as redemption (no matter who the boy is, or where he comes from, a fact that likely prevents Glen from fighting for custody of the boy). Beth is a liar and she has a hold on Glen that transcends all other things, no matter how obviously incorrect some of those things may be. They have poisoned themselves with themselves, and the boy represents the dizzying depths of their blind dysfunction.

Amoskeag: The story begins with the little boy sitting on the steps outside of his work. The boy remains expressionless and silent as Glen decides what to do with him. What made you begin here?

Adam: I wanted the boy to simply be present in another area of the world that is not his, namely his “father’s” place of work. His appearance there is wrong on two main counts: his “mother” merely dumped him there alone, without first speaking to Glen, and the environment itself could be construed as hazardous to a child; a world of dangerous tools and strange men.

Amoskeag: Did you see the ending coming, or did it suddenly surprise you? How did you prepare for it?

Adam: Once I realized the boy represented all that Glen could not repair or control, I knew then that something more concrete needed to happen, something as simple as taking Glen’s emotional turmoil into the realm of the physical, yet another place where he is not in full control.

Amoskeag: Is your character’s view of the world reflective of the way you see the world? Or were you surprised by what they saw? How they felt?

Adam: I relate to Glen’s need to simplify things, to make them more concrete (regardless of how they became unstable in the first place), I think he’s aware that he cannot necessarily fix them, but he’ll do what he can for the time being. I see the pull of such a POV. I don’t think it’s particular constructive or healthy, but I can relate to the confusing struggles that go hand-in-hand with toting around a dumbbell of guilt.

Amoskeag: At the end of the story, an event occurs which shifts Glen’s perspective. He is no longer the angry, annoyed man he was when the story began. He develops true care for this little boy, and in that moment, nothing else matters except the boys safety. How did you construct the language of the piece? How did you come to hear and record the feelings of your narrator?

Adam: I tried to increase the level of threat in the story in an obviously concrete way. Here Glen is trying to do right in a situation many people may view to be hopeless and binding; doing right by a child that is not even his own son, paying monies to a woman he has long stopped loving and should have no further ties to. The boy is the pawn of the piece. He exists between two equally troubled worlds: the man who shows him he is not his son, and the irrational and unhealthy woman. The boy is alone in perpetuity, and in that instant when he is once again “physically alone,” he suffers terribly, and Glen is yet again unable to make it right. The color of the boy’s skin merely exacerbated the paternal struggle for Glen, he loves him regardless. But to others, the boy’s color becomes the catalyst for instant violence. Glen’s voice was clear to me throughout this piece, as was the environment. The “blue-collar” ambiance is something I experience to this day, and because of that I had a sense of the “voice” that would guide this story, hopefully one without judgment, merely a recorder of events.

Amoskeag: “This word, a word said close to his small cut ear, said over and over again, gaining repetition, like something large and wild moving toward him through a dark and peaceful valley, this boy hearing this word, over and over again, hearing,sorry.” Why does this line matter in this piece?

Adam: Because they only have each other, Glen and the boy, and Glen is as sorry for that fact as he is for all that the boy has suffered so far, and will no doubt suffer again. Beth is not destined to play a significant part in the lives of these two characters.

Amoskeag: How do you feel when a piece gets accepted and readers that you don’t know are now going to complete the story that you worked so hard at to shape?

Adam: It’s a wonderful feeling, of course. You put something together and send it out and what happens next is totally out of your control. But to have a reader connect with your work (a “reader” you’ll likely never get to meet) is a magical experience, it makes the void a little less lonesome.

Amoskeag: What’s next for you as a writer?

Adam: Well, I’ve amassed about a thousand poems or so, some of which are not too shabby, I think it’s time to find some of them a home. I’ve also many more stories to share.