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Interview With Mike Hornyak, Author of The Dictionary Game: Stare Down the Moon

As of the last time I was able to check, The Dictionary Game: Stare Down the Moon had hit $1111 at a magical 222% to funding! This means we have hit our first stretch goal and are very close to our second!

Your response has been simply overwhelming and we are thrilled to share this collection with you. 

As a treat, our Co-Conspirator at The Henlo Press, Stephanie Weiford, got together with author Mike Hornyak (in a digital and socially distant responsible way, of course) to ask him a few questions about himself and his work.

This is the result. 


Stephanie: This is your first published work. What is the feeling like to see your work come to life and be shared for the first time?

Mike : Weird. And awesome. And scary.

I’ve been sitting on a lot of these pieces for years and thinking about the possibility of publishing them and what that would be like.

Now it’s actually happening, and there will be a very real document that exists in the world, showcasing work and feelings and hope and heartbreak and tantrums and epiphanies that span almost half of my life.

It’s strange and humbling to look at writing you did 15 years ago as a very young person and think about showing it to people - even more so to think about asking them to pay for it.

Thank God for editing.

Stephanie:  There’s an interesting history behind how this work got started, what can you tell us about it?

Mike: A friend of mine introduced me to the game when we were in college. She played it with some classmates as a way to overcome writer’s block and get the creative juices flowing. We always played recreationally so it was more fun. Over time, you almost accidentally build up a body of work. Apparently, if you play enough, you collect enough for a book!

Stephanie: What was the creative process like in adapting your ‘found’ words into the creative works they became?

Mike: It changed over time, honestly. Even piece by piece.

When I first started playing the dictionary game, I played it in its pure form: sit down with a friend and get your word, then write within a given time limit. I was young and passionate and it was easy to produce in flashes. Inspiration came from absolutely everywhere.

As I got older, I got busy and life got more complicated so I had to play more sparsely and take more time with the writing. There are pieces I started more than five years ago and only finished because I was publishing the book.

Before, it was easy to make up stories and be whimsical with the writing. But producing pieces in the last several months has been more challenging because of the way the world has been. It was almost impossible to find outside inspiration when everywhere I looked, the world was on fire. So, I looked inward for my inspiration and a lot of the pieces ended up being about my life in some way.

It’s all fiction, in a way, but a lot of the newer pieces are semi-autobiographical.

Stephanie: Stories have a way of surprising us, did you have any surprise moments in crafting this one?

Mike: I was surprised at how challenging it was to flesh out certain ideas. And also how easy it was for others. Every piece is unique to the word it came from so there’s not always something connecting one to the other.

However, my editor told me I definitely have “a voice” so I’m surprised and delighted that there is some cohesive, unifying element. Especially considering most of the pieces were written many years apart.

Stephanie: Personally, what is your favorite part?

Mike: My favorite part isn’t necessarily in the book, but the concept itself. I love that there’s no right or wrong. It’s a different kind of prompt-based writing. It is literally whatever comes out of you. Some things came out as structured poems, or haiku, or song lyrics, or just completely free-form because that’s what came out at the time.

You don’t have to be a poet or a seasoned wordsmith to play or enjoy reading or writing in the dictionary game. It’s meant for everyone.

Stephanie: What do you hope readers will take away with them after reading “The Dictionary Game?”

Mike: I can only hope that they’ll take something away. Just something. Writing over such an expanse of time, and about varying subjects and themes, it’s hard to say that there’s any sort of message I meant to instill.

I guess, just be creative if you can. Great things can come out of random and tiny moments. Most times, they have to.

Stephanie: If you had to sum up the book with ONE quote from it, what would it be?

Mike: “With all the finesse of a bison on a high wire, I stumble through my days.

Too sudden a move, and I may topple, taking everything with me

(Gravity has a way of being unforgiving, despite our best efforts).

One day, I will know my own strength - enough to know that I can find it again.”

There are only 17 days left in the Kickstarter campaign for The Dictionary Game: Stare Down the Moon. Please continue to share with everyone you know as we still have lots of exciting things in store!

Thank you so much for your continued support!

~Your Friends at The Henlo Press

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