AN INTERVIEW WITH TODD DILLS
There are those with an entrepreneurial spirit and then there are those that are actually entrepreneurs. Todd Dills, founder of the2ndhand broadsheet/online publication, definitely fits into the latter category. Quarterly broadsheets grace the presses, while frequent online updates punctuate the space at the2ndhand. Furthermore, ALL HANDS ON: A THE2NDHAND Reader has just been released to critical acclaim, and the aforementioned will surely push the2ndhand's success. But, everything begins somewhere.
"When I was in South Carolina where I grew up, I started this little zine," says Todd Dills dryly. "And it was called The Harbinger. It was not very good. But it was fun doing it. Anyway, that was very short-lived. Shortly after, I moved to Chicago and was in the graduate program at Columbia College there, which is a really cool place," he iterates as he pauses to take a drag off his freshly-lit cigarette. "I was really put off by the literary establishment at the same time - magazines, particularly," he states, "but the magazines are so very boring. So I started the2ndhand. It's just a piece of paper, very simple to do, easy to get around, to distribute. You get a few stories each issue and you just head from there. That's how it started." As the words roll from his tongue, I know it's much more difficult than he describes. But, Dills' laid-back personality would have you believe otherwise.
"So, do you guys like to accept stuff from any and all writers or primarily new writers?" I ask him.
"We always encourage new people to submit," Dills replies without hesitation. "You build this community of people up via the magazine. But then what also happens is that you get a lot of people who've never been published sending you stuff." Dills perhaps sums up the2ndhand's submission policy by saying, "It's really anybody and everybody."
Wanting to shift gears, I move towards a discussion of ALL HANDS ON. "Let's talk about the new book," I say. "what personally are some of your favorite pieces? Maybe even some you've written yourself."
"My favorite piece in there is probably Joe Meno's Tijuana Women," he says. "Fuckin' beautiful story," he adds immediately. "That's probably my favorite. A story called Badminton Up Your Ass, which is another one of those Metallica-referencing pieces."
"I like the reference to Stryper," I say, unable to help myself from interjecting this comment about the '80's Christian glam metallers.
Dills laughs, then moves on to more highlights from the book. "I really like Mickey [Hess]'s Knut Hamson, Ol' Dirty Bastard, a Teenage Girl. That one's high on the list for sure, too. Yeah, those three, then Solorzano's Nicaragua diaries. Those are fucking brilliant."
"Out of all the ones you wrote, which do you think is your favorite?" I ask.
"My own work ..." he pauses. "It's weird publishing your own work," he admits. "I like the newer stuff. Week(+day) of Bombs is really fresh to me still. It's part of this larger piece. I like the My Master of Puppets piece too."
"I really enjoyed that one," I say. "And the My ... And Justice for All."
"It's more dark and satirical than the My Master of Puppets one. That's kinda how I been feeling lately. I'm looking around and seeing a lot of black humor in the world," Dills admits.
After prying into Dills' psyche regarding the recent - albeit successful - book release, I retain the urge to ask him about upcoming projects he's involved with. "So are you workin' on any new things now? I mean I know you just released the book, but ..."
"I work for the Chicago Reader. But I'm also workin' on a novel. It's called, provisionally, Sons of the Rapture, he says, laughing afterwards. "It's about the south and the last few decades of the last century, through the eyes of this family. One kid leaves the town where he grew up and his father is this kind of crazy, loose-cannon type of guy because he inherited all this money and he hasn't managed to blow it all. It's got a pretty wide scope and has some surrealist elements too," Dills says nonchalantly, although I can tell he's excited about this forthcoming novel.
"Well, that's all I have," I say. "Congratulations on the new release."
"It's a great read."
"Good, good. Glad you liked it."
about the author
Indiana writer Jason Jordan has performed at the Old Louisville Coffeehouse and was the winner of Decomposition Magazine's first creative writing contest in July 2004 with his piece, Untitled.