Senior Spotlight: Inside the zany mind of Zachary Marley

By Stefan Deeran

[img_assistfid=83alt=Zach Marley]
MW: Academic focus?
ZM: I am an English major, Japanese minor. I was an economics major for two years before I switched to English. I just had to go with what felt better. Not only do I do better in my English classes but I think thatƒ?TMs where my passion lies, in literature and writing. I took an Intro to Economics class that I really liked but it just didnƒ?TMt turn out to really be my thing.

MW: Whatƒ?TMs the interest in Japanese?
ZM: Itƒ?TMs what I took in High School and I am a big fan of Japanese garage rock. I had a friend who is in a garage rock band down in San Francisco and he emailed me a couple bands, Guitar Wolf. These great bands, they are super loud and everythingƒ?TMs about space and cars and zombies and stuff and itƒ?TMs fantastic.

MW: You play the keyboards. Are you involved in any musical projects right now?
ZM: I have a band back in Seattle with a friend of mine. I actually play guitar in that band and my friend plays keyboards. Its called Captain Phaserƒ?TMs Blazing Lasers and we are entirely sci-fi, neon, new wave awesomeness.

MW: Whatƒ?TMs your musical muse?
ZM: Any kind of old science fiction [or] space opera heroes like Flash Gordon. Japanese monster movies too like Godzilla.

MW: How does one translate Godzilla into music?
ZM: Volume mainly. The music as loud as possible.

MW: And you are also working on a novel?
ZM: Itƒ?TMs based around the concept that if multiple universes exist in which every possibly is fulfilled. Thereƒ?TMs got to be one universe thatƒ?TMs completely screwed over and has every science fiction apocalypse ever imagined happen within the span of five years. A Mad Max type character that has to deal with Nazis from the moon, zombies, a giant indestructible praying mantis, an asteroid hitting the earth.

MW: How does the creative process differ between composing music and writing fiction?
ZM: Writing [music] is a lot harder. There is a lot of self-doubt. Sitting up in my room writing lyric sheet after lyric sheet. It easily takes me as long to write one song as it does to write a thirty-page story.

MW: Can you share more about the writing process?
ZM: I canƒ?TMt stand not to create; I know that sounds really pretentious. I really like making things and showing them to other people. I guess writing seems to be where my talent lies. Itƒ?TMs just a lot of fun. I sit down to my computer with a root beer and a pack of Sour Patch kids and proceed to get a major sugar high and I write for three or four hours. I think some people drink. Some people smoke weed before they write their poetry, or whatever. But I desperately need my root beer.

MW: How have life experiences shaped your work?
ZM: You know, Iƒ?TMve pretty much had the most boring, normal life that a kid from Redmond Washington could have. Thatƒ?TMs Microsoft country so everybody there is pretty much solidly middle class and sheltered and naA_ve. And Iƒ?TMm still really sheltered and naA_ve. I guess I draw upon that.

MW: Youƒ?TMre in a Macalester relationship?
ZM: I am. Itƒ?TMs wonderful. I am almost two and a half years now with Stephanie Phillips ƒ?TM07. Still very much in love.

MW: Has she inspired any of your art?
ZM: Ohh God. Iƒ?TMm gonna sound like the creepiest kid in the world. In one of the stories I wrote last semester that I am submitting now there was a nine-year old girl character named Stephanie. No pedophilia or anything. She was a very friendly, nice character. She kinda was the heroine of the piece soƒ?ÝI really concentrated on making it as non-creepy as possible but the name was right for the character. I donƒ?TMt know, it worked.

MW: Are your pieces ever political?
ZM: Kind of. Mainly anti-consumerist. And I like to write about the aesthetization of violence. Like I love action movies, I love science fiction movies. The average consumer interaction with violence is very interesting.

MW: Essentially creating a commodity which critiques commodities?
ZM: Yea, yea, no totally! I love writing action in my scenes because itƒ?TMs not really done that often and I think itƒ?TMs really kind of absurd to do lots of car chases and gunfights and stuff.

MW: Satire?
ZM: Yea always. My attempts at writing serious things have always failed and ended up as comedy.

MW: Has your writing always like that?
ZM: I wrote as much bad fantasy poetry in Middle School as any other kid who was on the Internet did. I wrote this one four-page short story about a guy experiencing death. It was like this allegorical walk down an empty street towards a church. There were statues and empty storefronts.

MW: Working out some teen angst, eh?
ZM: Ohh totally. Didnƒ?TMt everyone write stories like that? Some people still do.

MW: Is it difficult having your work critiqued by your peers?
ZM: Each writing class goes in one direction or the other. Either theyƒ?TMre too afraid to say anything mean or else they want to be honest [but] theyƒ?TMll never say what they liked, just criticism.

MW: Want to share any fond moments?
ZM: Every radio show I’ve done at Macalester with Stu Schmieleski ƒ?TM05 and David Jonas ƒ?TM06. We did a good twenty minutes of the ƒ?oeFirst International ƒ?Mime-Offƒ?TM our first year, mime competition, between our friends. And then we narrated it for the radio audience. And I still have that on mp3. Iƒ?TMm pretty proud of that.

MW: Do you like the direction Macalesterƒ?TMs heading?
ZM: Man thatƒ?TMs a tough question. Iƒ?TMm so isolated in the Japanese and English Departments. Obviously everybody was really upset last year when Sarah Pradt didnƒ?TMt get tenure in the Japanese Department. As for the English department, I am really, really satisfied. I wish that theyƒ?TMd hurry up and hire a fiction-writing professor, which we havenƒ?TMt had for a year or two. The past two years I’ve had a great experience.

MW: Any advice for the children?
ZM: Donƒ?TMt underestimate the benefits of living on-campus. It was such a relief last semester to move back into Kirk [Zack is in the Japan House this Spring]. Iƒ?TMm terrified of the real world so to have another year where people will still cook for me. I can just concentrate on hanging out rather than paying bills.

MW: Last parting words for Mac?
ZM: I know exactly what I’m going to do when I have my first best selling novel. I’m going to donate a building to Macalester and put up a statue of me outside it. Like on a motorcycle or something [with] a shotgun, Terminator-style, half my face ripped off with a cyborg underneath. Absolutely ridiculous and absolutely enormous but its gonna be a building so they canƒ?TMt turn me down.

MW: Your bestseller will surely arrive before the new Art Complex.