Excitement! I won the Playboy College Fiction Contest and I have a book coming out. Help!!


Dear James Franco,

We need to talk about me. We haven’t done that much. I’m going to promote myself. But before I do that, I have a question. It has to do with physics.

Let’s say a psychotic geologists drills a hole straight through the earth. The top of the hole is in New York and its end emerges in China. Yes, I know, China isn’t on the other side of New York. The Indian Ocean is. China is directly opposite to sections of Argentina and Chile. But let’s make believe that New York is now located in Argentina and Chile, and China is located in, um, China. I’m making this too complicated and I haven’t even asked the question yet.

Forget about New York. The fucking hole starts in Argentina and ends in China.

So we’ve got this hole that runs right through the center of the earth. You and your friends Mila Kunis and Gary Shteyngart are hanging out at the hole, drinking beer and listening Cage the Elephant. One of you says, “Yo. Let’s throw some shit down that fucking hole, right?” Everyone agrees that it’d be a totally cool thing to do. You all search around for something—sticks, stones, a belt, your ball cap. Gary happens to have a bowling ball with him. I don’t know why, and it doesn’t matter. He massages the ball and says, “Why don’t we just use this? I can always buy another one. No big loss.”

You all nod and say, “Wurd.”

Gary drops the bowling ball into the hole, and you all lean over and look. It disappears into the blackness, instantly.

Now, let’s imagine that there are two Chinese folk standing at the opposite end of the hole. They’re not doing any hole-related activities; instead, they’ve got a lemonade stand, which they’d set up by the hole. This location had become a tourist attraction since the crazy geologist drilled through a few days ago.

So Gary’s dropped the ball in on his end. What happens? Does Gary’s bowling ball shoot out of the opposite hole and up into the air? Is that even possible? I mean, Gary dropped the ball in the hole and it went down, obeying the laws of gravity. But if it shoots out of the other end, it’s violating gravity because nothing can fall up. Explain, please.

My guess is that the ball slows down the closer it gets to the center of the earth, and finally comes to a stop at the core. But I’m not sure how that would work. Would the ball just hover there in the center? Help me out here. This has been keeping me awake at night.

Anyway: I would like to inform you, and whoever happens upon this blog, that October is going to be a wonderful month for me. In 2007, I wrote a first draft of a novella. I entered it in a contest, and lost. I revised it a few more times, then took it to an undergraduate fiction workshop class. My peers told me that it sucks. I’m embellishing this a little. In truth, out of about sixteen students in the class, twelve told me what I’d written wasn’t any good (one kid suggested I abandon the project and write some historical fiction instead. When he turned in a story about wizards and elves, I suggested his style would be better suited for the growing family-inbreeding and bestiality genre of confessional fiction. Another student was outraged because nobody in the story had cell phones). I took seriously the three students who offered intelligent critiques *and who were well read), and my professor’s, Michal Griffith. In the subsequent years, I rewrote and revised the thing more than I’d like to admit. Finally, in 2011, when I felt it was ready, I sent it to a few indie presses. Burrow Press sent me the “we’d like to publish this” email a few days before Christmas. It was one of the greatest moments of my life. I was with my parents and my wife when the email came. I was sitting by the Christmas tree. My mother cried. My wife and I hugged for a long time.

I’m lucky, James. Burrow Press is amazing. They’re not one of those indie presses who print your book and then wipe their hand’s clean. They’re ambitious, hard working, devoted, passionate, and imaginative. Furthermore… well, we hear about the death of the editor all the time. Many indie presses don’t have the time or financial resources to provide Gordon Lish treatment to their manuscripts. My editor, Ryan Rivas, is the modern incarnation of Maxwell Perkins. I’ll yap about that at another time, after the book is released and I write up a long thank-you speech.  

The book is called Wally. It’s a novella, but I’m not sure if it’s actually a novella or a novel. It’s 214 pages long. The release date is October 9th.

You can pre-order the book here: http://burrowpress.com/wally/

You can watch the book trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2G1IdIjfmBI&feature=player_embedded

This is the book trailer that you didn’t make. I’m very happy with it, but I’d really like you to do the trailer for my next book, if it every gets published. It’s called My Helicopter Heart and it’s about a failed playwright stalking Kirsten Dunst during the Christian apocalypse. It’s absurd humor and satire, mixed with memoir. Let’s not go there right now… one book at a time.

There’s more good news. About a month ago, I found out that I’d won the 2012 Playboy College Fiction Contest. My story, “The Circuit Builders” will be in the October issue.

Please buy it. You can get a free copy with a pre-order of Wally. Ryan set up a Facebook event page called “Knockers and Novellas,” and that, as well as at the press’s author page, should have all the info. https://www.facebook.com/events/344873918936846/

So that’s it. I wanted to tell you more about who I am, but it’s nearly 4:00 AM, and my eyes are closing. I took my Ambien 20 minutes ago, and if I don’t get in bed soon, I’m going to start writing nonsense. I’ll leave you with some biographical bullet points:

  • I haven’t always had my head up the ass of literature (did you catch the Vonnegut reference?) I originally went to school for electrical technology. I learned how to fix broken electrical shit. I had a job refurbishing cryogenic vacuums—sputtering systems, they’re called. They’re two-ton machines that are used in the production of microprocessors.
  • I didn’t stick with that, frankly, because I was a disaster on the work floor. I eventually became a social worker, and did that for about ten years. I worked with adults with disabilities, and then at a school for fucked up rich children (did you catch the Vonnegut reference there?)
  • Although I’d always read voraciously—and wrote—I didn’t see this as a possible career until five years ago. At one point, I’d tried really hard to make it as a musician.
  • How did I meet my wife? I stalked her.
  • My favorite writers, at the moment, are Percival Everett, Lauren Groff, Kurt Vonnegut, one of my professors (it’d be too weird to mention his name), Amy Hempel, Robert Coover, John Bart, George Saunders, Philip Roth, Steve Almond, Roy Kesey, Karen Russell, Saul Bellow, Donald Barthelme, Mark Twain, Matt Bell… I better stop. All the essentials: O’Connor, Kerouac, Stephen King, Hemingway, and on and on.
  • I play bass guitar in a band called The Knife Incident. We’re not a hipster band. We’re all pushing 40, so if you ever listen to us, you’ll think, “Those dudes grew up listening to Sublime and pop-punk bands.” That’s what we sound like, but my two biggest rock band influences are They Might Be Giants and Phish.
  • I don’t like the Phish sub-culture. I like the music.
  • I drink cheap instant coffee, only.
  • I take a pill for chronic insomnia, called Ambien.
  • I like that pill.


That’s it.  By my book.


About Letters to James Franco

My name is Don Peteroy. I'm a PhD. candidate at University of Cincinnati. My major has a long name, so try to say it in one breath: "English and Comparative Literature with a Creative Dissertation." I spent the majority of my adult years as a social worker. I decided it's pointless to help people, so I've devoted the rest of my life to reading and writing. Here's all my publications and works in progress: My novella, "Wally," published by Burrow Press, in the fall of 2012. Novella: "A World Without Owls" Unpublished. Novel: "My Helicopter Heart" Unpublished. A failed playwright stalks Kirsten Dunst during the Christian apocalypse. My short story, "The Circuit Builders" is the winner of the 2012 Playboy College Fiction contest, and will appeared in the October 2012 issue. Here's are more published and forthcoming short stories: "The Trouble With Hello is Goodbye": Arcadia Magazine 7, 2014. "Kurt Vonnegut Didn't Like Me" Online Sundries, 2/14 http://www.arcadiamagazine.org/4/post/2014/02/kurt-vonnegut-didnt-like-me.html "Because I Want to Know You" forthcoming reprint in Short Story America "A Hole Without A Rim," forthcoming in the Florida Review "Keeping it for Good," The Heartland Review. Forthcoming. “A Penny In A Pill Bottle,” Dislocate, Winter 2012. “Because I Want to Know You” Yemessee, 19.2, 2002. “The Sluggers” Santa Carla Review. Spring 2012. “Maps and Legends” Chattahoochee Review. Spring 2012. “Melinda, Listen to Me” Permafrost, vol. 33, 2011. “Rondo” Licking River Review, Fall 2011. “The Ugly Marriage Counselor” Eleven Eleven, vol.11, 2011. “The Healing Frequency” Newport Review, Summer 2011. “His Name Equals His Name” The Ultimate Writer Magazine, Summer 2011. “This Is How I Will Hold You” The Westchester Review, vol. 5, 2011. “In Accordance To The Needs Of A Canadian Literary Magazine” Worcester Review, vol. 31.1, 2011. “Too Much Anthropology” Cream City Review, vol. 34.2, 2011. “There Are No Fragments” Ellipsis, vol. 46, 2010. “Confessions of a Misunderstood Sidekick” Farallon Review, vol.3, 2010 “One Day, God Will Kill Everyone” Oyez Review, vol. 37, 2010. “When Hawks Make Love” The Susquehanna Review, Fall 2009. “Goddess Corpse” The Maynard, Fall 2009. “Misconceptions About the Nature of Blood” CRIT Journal, Summer 2009. “Go Up” The Cynic, Fall 2009. “The Misuse of Old British Words” Two Hawks Quarterly, Spring 2009. “Dead or Unlisted” The Rejected Quarterly, Spring 2003. “Sleep Log” The Timber Creek Review, Spring 2002. There are other stories out there, somewhere, but I've lost track. Awards: “From One Object to Another.” Finalist for the Glimmer Train Short Fiction Award, 2009. “His Name Equals His Name” Finalist for the Gulf Coast Donald Barthelme Award, 2009. “In Accordance To The Needs Of A Canadian Literary Magazine” 2011 Pushcart Prize nominee. "A World Without Owls." Finalist, Gold Line Press Chapbook Contest, 2011. “Confessions of a Misunderstood Sidekick” Sacramento Stories on Stage Series in California, June 2011. "The Circuit Builders" winner of the Playboy College Fiction Award 2012. "The Trouble With Hello is Goodbye" nominated for a Pushcart Award.

3 responses to “Excitement! I won the Playboy College Fiction Contest and I have a book coming out. Help!!”

  1. Richard Feynman says :

    If the inside of the tunnel was a vacuum then the ball would oscillate about the center indefinitely. Of course, the ball would most likely turn to ash before reaching the inner core where the temperature is believed to be 5,700K.

    • Letters to James Franco says :

      Richard: Back from the dead, I see? I hope your recent reanimation wasn’t solely for the purposes of answering my question. I better ask you one more, before you de-materialize. Is it OK to consider an atom a perpetual motion machine? (Assuming we can agree that the definition of machine is anything that serves a practical function).

  2. roger kees says :

    yeah . . . about that bowling ball–it would go through stages as it propelled downwards, of course it would travel through time the deeper it went; i’m quite sure at some point it would travel through some impossible magic rock (who knows what might be lurking down there) that would cause the bowling ball to be charmed . . . upon reaching the exact center of earth it would stay there spinning at an increadble speed –really a large responsibility being the exact center of planet earth . . . but nothing is forever, and so in the future a cute china-woman would stretch out her hand and say a mystic ”come” and the bowling ball would be irresistibly, mystically, drawn to this cute china-woman named ”ping” –and the two of them would live happily ever after. (p.s. ping would become the greatest bowler of all history)

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