November 1, 2017 orangeq2017

On “A Passing Phase”: An Interview with Joseph Moore

A Passing Phase” is a short story by Joseph Moore published in the REVIVAL issue of Orange Quarterly (OQ 5), released in fall 2017 (on October 31).


What inspired you to write this story?

This story came in fragments, without any semblance of narrative structure. I had the idea that I wanted to explore infatuation and limerence, as well as the inner consciousness of the clinically anxious. The middle of the story was written while I held a lovely sinecure, which afforded me ample time to write between emails. The other portions were written in bars and at home. It wasn’t until midway through that I had the sense to piece them together.

Why do you make art, and why write fiction in particular?

I like to think of artistic creation as a sort of ritualistic purging. If I don’t write, it feels as if a dam is building within, brimming with thoughts and ideas and anxieties and all manner of conflicting opinions. Writing wasn’t my first or even second choice as far as a means of expression—music and film were how I coped when I was younger—but with everything else, I felt like I was working against physical and social barriers. I wasn’t very dexterous with my hands, and I wasn’t a socialite who was in touch with my emotions. As I got older, I found myself tangled up in words and thoughts, and writing seemed to clear those away for a brief period. For a brief period, I tried my hand at the journalism thing, but unless you’re a cultural critic, the industry doesn’t exactly reward thought-provoking writing, just information or opinions. I’m not quite sure why I write fiction in particular. Things just seemed to turn out that way. Any attempt of mine at writing memoir or creative non-fiction eventually ends up as fiction. I guess it’s how my mind makes sense of the world.

Who were some of your biggest influences coming into your own as a writer?

David Foster Wallace is an obvious one, but his influence is a kind of double-edged sword, as many other authors have noted. His style is so grandiose (I think Mary Karr likened his prose to a show of fireworks) that any sort of imitation of his work immediately comes across as amateur. Truman Capote, Jonathan Franzen, John Barth, Saul Bellow, Tony Tulathimutte, and Alice Munro all played a huge role in shaping my sensibilities as a writer.


Joseph R. Moore is a SUNY Purchase Acting BFA dropout who eventually graduated with a B.A. in Literature/Writing at the University of California, San Diego. His work has largely been in poetry, fiction, and cultural criticism, with verse and prose in online journals such as Bright Lights Film Journal, Switchback, Flatbush Review, and The Magnitizdat Literary. He currently resides in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he is working on a forthcoming novel.


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