Friday, August 21, 2015

Interview with Bradley Somer - Fishbowl

Please help me welcome Bradley Somer to the blog, he's here to chat about his fantastic new novel, Fishbowl. I can't wait to get my hands on my copy and I bet you'll be chomping to get one of your own by the end of the post.

ISBN-13: 9781250057808
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: 08/04/2015
Length: 304pp
Buy It: B&N/Amazon/Kobo/IndieBound/Audible


A goldfish named Ian is falling from the 27th-floor balcony on which his fishbowl sits. He's longed for adventure, so when the opportunity arises, he escapes from his bowl, clears the balcony railing and finds himself airborne. Plummeting toward the street below, Ian witnesses the lives of the Seville on Roxy residents.
Read an excerpt courtesy St. Martin's Press:

In Which the Essence of Life and Everything Else Is Illuminated There's a box that contains life and everything else. This is not a figurative box of lore. It's not a box of paper sheets that have been captured, bound, and filled with the inkings of faith, chronicling the foibles and contradictions of the human species. It doesn't sport the musty smell of ancient wisdom and moldering paper. It isn't a microscopic box of C, G, A, or T, residing within cell walls and containing traces of everything that ever lived, from today back through the astral dust of the Big Bang itself to whatever existed before time began. It can't be spliced or recombined or subjected to therapy. It's not the work of any god or the evolution of Darwin. It's not a thousand other ideas, however concrete or abstract they may be, that could fill the pages of this book. It's not one of these things, but it's all of them combined and more. Now we know what it isn't, let's focus on what it is. It's a box containing the perpetual presence of life itself. Living things move within it, and at some point, it will have been around long enough to have contained absolutely everything. Not all at once, but over the years, building infinite layer upon infinite layer, it will all wind up there. Time will compile these experiences, stacking them on top of each other, and while the moments themselves are fleeting, their visceral memory is everlasting. The passing of a particular moment can't erase the fact that it was once present. In this way, the box reaches beyond the organic to the ethereal. The heartbreaking sweetness of love, the rending hatred, the slippery lust, the sorrow of losing a family member, the pain of loneliness, all thoughts that were ever thought, every word ever said and even those which were not, the joys of birth and the sorrows of death and everything else will be experienced here in this one vessel. The air is thick with the anticipation of it all. After it's all done, the air will be heavy with everything that has passed. It's a box constructed by human hands and, yes, if your beliefs trend that way, by extension, the hands of God. Regardless of its origin, its purpose is the same and its structure reflects its purpose. The box is partitioned into little compartments in which all of these experiences of time are stored, though there's no order to their place or chronological happening. There are compartments stacked twenty-seven high, three wide, and two deep that house this jumble of everything. Melvil Dewey, the patron saint of librarians, would cringe at the mere thought of trying to catalog the details of these one hundred and sixty-two compartments. There's no way to arrange or structure what happens here, no way to exert control over it or systematize it. It just has to be left a mess. A pair of elevators connects all of these compartments. Themselves little boxes, each with a capacity of ten people or 4,000 lb./1,814 kg., whichever comes first. Each with a little plaque attached to the mirrored wall near the panel that says it's so. The irritating pitch of the alarm that sounds when there's too much weight inside also says it's so. The elevators trundle tirelessly up and down their dingy shafts, diligently delivering artifacts and their custodians to the different levels. Day and night, they shuttle to one floor and then to the next and then back to the lobby. There's a staircase too, in case of fire or power outage, so the custodians can grab the artifacts most dear to them and safely exit the box. The box is a building, yes. More specifically it's an apartment building. It sits there, an actual place in an actual city. It has a street address so people who are unfamiliar with the area can find it. It also has a series of numbers so lawyers and city surveyors can find it too. It's classified in many ways. To the city it's an orange rectangle with black crosshatching on the zoning map. "Multi-Residential, High-Density High-Rise," the legend reads. To many occupants it's a "one-bedroom apartment for rent, with underground parking and coin laundry facilities." To some it was "an unbelievably affordable way to experience the convenience and excitement of downtown living. This two-bedroom, one-bathroom condo with uninterrupted city views must be seen to be believed," and is now home. For a few, it's a place to work on the weekdays. For others, it's a place to visit friends on the weekends. The building was constructed in 1976 and has hobbled through time ever since. When it was still new, it was the tallest building on the street. Now that it's older, there are three taller ones. Soon there will be a fourth. For the time, it was an elegant and stately building. Now it seems dated, belonging to a period in architectural history that has its own name, a name that was not known at the time it was built but is applied knowingly in hindsight. The building was renovated recently because it was in much need. The concrete was painted to hide the spalling cracks and compiled graffiti. The drafty windows and gappy doors to the balconies were replaced to keep the evening chill outside and the temperate air in. Last year, the boiler was upgraded to provide adequate hot water for washing up. The electrical was updated because building codes have changed. It was once a building entirely full of renters. Now, it is a condominium where most people own but others still choose to rent out their suites to offset other investment risks, to "diversify their portfolios." The building fulfills an Arcensian mission of carrying everything mentioned thus far, housing the spirit and the chaos of life and those beings in which they reside, through the floods and to safety every time the water recedes. Depending on where you live, this box may be just up the street. It may even be within walking distance from where you read these words. You may drive past it on the way home from work if you work downtown but live in the suburbs. Or you may even live there. If you see this building, pause for a second to ponder what a marvelous arcanum it is. It will sit there long after you turn the last page in this book and long after we are dead and these words have been forgotten. The beginning and end of time will happen there within those walls, between the roof and the parking garage. But for now, only a handful of decades old, it's a growing marvel in its nascent days and this book is a short chronicle of its youth. Spelled out above the front door, bolted to the brick in weeping, rusty black metal lettering, is the name of the building: the Seville on Roxy. Copyright © 2015 by Bradley Somer

Bradley, your new novel Fishbowl looks fantastic and I cant wait to read it.
Tell my readers a little about it.
Thanks! It was a blast to write. Fishbowl is the story of the residents of the Seville on Roxy apartment building (and Ian the goldfish, of course). The whole novel takes place in about half an hour with all the storylines tying up in the four seconds it takes Ian to plummet from his fishbowl on the twenty seventh floor balcony to the sidewalk below. Essentially, the idea was that if you take a life and all its events, then turn it sideways, the residents will live a collective life in this short span of time. I was really interested in how people's interactions can send other's lives off in ways we can't imagine at the time.

The novel is told through the eyes of Ian the goldfish. I have to ask, why a goldfish?
A goldfish seemed like a great way to have an impartial, non-judgmental observer of all the goings on in the building. The structure of the story also plays well with the goldfish because time has little meaning to a fish and all the storylines in the novel shift in perspective and time as well.

So the novel takes place in one single day. Was that easier or harder than you thought to describe everything in just a day?
It was more of a challenge stretching time out than it was compressing it, as in my previous novel, Imperfections. But, in the same breath, the relevance of the minutia in the character's lives in Fishbowl could really be explored in more detail. It was fascinating to work on these small details to gain a bigger effect from them, to have the little things the characters do play big roles in their story arcs.

Your work is described as "having a bent for the off-kilter with a touch of the urban fantastic.” Does this also describe Fishbowl?
I would say that's a pretty good description for Fishbowl. The characters, humor, and pathos in the book are all slightly's been called quirky several times in reviews. It's also been called endearing, poignant, and a whole bunch of other things. I've had my work called worse so I think it's hitting the mark with a lot of readers.

Do you have a target audience?
I don't write for a specific audience. There are many layers in Fishbowl so if someone wanted to read it for entertainment, they're sure to get that out of the book. But, if a reader wants to dig deeper, there's a lot woven into the narrative to explore as well. It's had many labels applied to it but I just hope readers get a kick out of it wherever they think it's placed in the spectrum of genres.

Bradley youve written as it says in your bio a “ton” of short fiction. Was it a conscience decision to write a novel, a natural progression or something else?
Great question. I enjoy writing in both forms, sort and long. There is pressure in short fiction to excise the excess and distill the words down to a single powerful theme. In novels, the author has more leeway to broaden the scope of the work and explore around a bit more. Both forms can be very effective if done properly. Fishbowl actually started off as a short story. Once I was finished the short form version, I just couldn't leave it alone so I picked it up and filled it out be a novel.

So youve put your latest work to bed and youve got some down time. What do you do?
Write. I have another manuscript completed and am halfway through the next. Writing isn't work in my eyes, it's a pleasure!

Will you be touring in the US for this release?
I have a few spot appearances in North America in the coming months and will be presenting the book at a few festivals this fall. Just last week I had a reading at the fantastic Parnassus Books in Nashville. I was blown away by the supportive staff there. They really put on an event...pairing wines with the book and filling the store with amazing readers who were so warm and filled with such insightful questions that it was a real treat. And the city was a blast too!

Bradley thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me.
Good Luck with the novel!
It's been a pleasure and thanks for the great questions!

Connect with Bradley - Website - Twitter - Goodreads

Bradley Somer has written a ton of short fiction, which has appeared in a plethora of literary journals, reviews and anthologies over the past eleven years. His stories show a bent for the off-kilter with a touch of the urban fantastic.
Bradley Somer is represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Agency.

Today's Gonereading item is:
perfect for this post a fish bookmark
Click here for the buy page


  1. What a unique storyline! Thanks for sharing this Debbie and the interview! I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

    1. I know right Ali. Thanks you have a great weekend too!

  2. It's an interesting concept that's for sure. I don't I've ever read a book where a goldfish is the narrator...

  3. Oh this sounds interesting and love the perspective. Great interview Debbie, enjoy your weekend!

    1. I have to say Kim I was so enchanted by the blurb I knew I had to have Bradley on and read the book.
      Thanks you have a great weekend too!

  4. Well that is definitely a different way to tell a story. Love when authors get creative like that :)

    1. I know Anna he really caught my attention and now I must read the book LOL