In conversation with C.E. O’Banion

Our readers would like to know your inspiration (or story, if any) behind Family Focused.

My wife and I have talked about which parts of the United States have no threat of natural disasters—no hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, avalanches, volcano eruptions, etc. etc. And the best we’ve come up with is New Mexico. While writing an essay collection on my hometown in Texas, I reflected on the few times in my life I’ve been faced with either a natural or man-made disaster and how my persecutors have changed now that I have children. What was once boring now seems safe, and risk scares me as I think it does most new parents. 

Tell us more about your creative process in general.

My creative process takes place throughout the day, usually in conversations with friends and coworkers. I take notes and they eventually form a story or add to an essay — my most recent notes look something like this: 

1. “I’m tellin’ six-foot jokes and everybody’s five ten” (heard someone say this on an elevator).

2. “I got in a spat on MyChart” (MyChart is an app where your doctor communicates your test results—my friend got in a fight with his over a result, and I found this hilarious).

3. I just went to a wedding where the bride’s grandfather had a stroke and the groom’s cousin got caught cheating on his wife (felt that needed documentation).

Do you have any creative influences? What do you like the most about their work? Does it have a discernible effect on your writing?

I have two young children, and so most of the creative influence I absorb comes from the writers of Bob’s Burgers, which I love and hope to emulate in all areas of life, not just writing. Each episode is it’s own little Machiavellian production with jokes, plot, ballads, life lessons, and farts. 

Are there any creative genres, forms, themes, techniques etc. you wish you could employ in your writing which you haven’t yet?

Not so much a form, but I wish my writing had more of a natural smoothness to it. But I think to accomplish that, I’d have to be smarter, and that ship has sailed. If I could get to that point, hopefully, a New Yorker cartoon caption wouldn’t be too far out of reach. 

What are you looking forward to in your creative career?

Reading, watching, and listening to more stories, and facing the challenge of writing something my wife will actually read! 

C.E. O’Banion is a writer with work featured in The Southern Review Literary Journal, The Hooghly Review, Hyacinth Review, Dead Mule, and across the internet. O’Banion’s writing, which focuses on the great indoors, chain Mexican restaurants, his cat, and the American south, can be found in his novel, Chinese New Year, published by TBP Press, and an upcoming collection of short essays. He and his family live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he teaches at Louisiana State University.