Friend Files is a new feature I’ve added to Away With Words, this being just the fourth installment. I will be interviewing a friend of mine and showcasing why they are a friend to me and what I like about them, and also a mini-interview (five questions) that detail what they think of me. It’s a way to acknowledge my friends out there and what they’re up to and also introduce them to my larger group of friends, acquaintances, and anyone else who might be interested in reading.
Today, I will be talking about Shane Collins. Before I get into what I think of him, here is my mini-interview with Shane (exchanged over Facebook) where he jotted down just a few thoughts:
SHANE COLLINS’ FRIEND FILE INTERVIEW
ME: Give me some details about your life.
SHANE COLLINS: I work as a tour guide at the Harpoon Brewery in Vermont where I get paid to talk to people about beer all day. But I’m hoping to soon get a job teaching creative writing at the college level. I’m a writer and have finished a collection of short stories about Army ROTC and am little over the halfway point on a crime noir about a Afghanistan war veteran/beer brewer who is trying to solve the murder of the woman he has loved his whole life.
I live in Vermont, which is the coolest place I’ve ever been. I recently married Chloe, the love of my life, who is also a writer. I live on a little homestead where I keep chickens and am planning to run a massive garden this summer which will hopefully provide most of our food for a few months. I love the outdoors, including hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, and target shooting. Plus, I like to brew my own beer, as I think you know by now, haha.
ME: How exactly did we meet?
SHANE COLLINS: We met when we were graduate students at Stonecoast. I remember the first time we really hung out. You, me, and Richard went to Gritty’s together where we shared beer and burgers. It was a lot of fun!
ME: What is one good memory you have involving me?
SHANE COLLINS: Oh man, too many. Gritty’s was a lot of fun. The next time we hung out, I tried “acid shots” for the first time, a Stonecoast tradition. The Summer residency of 2014 where we stayed at the farmhouse together will probably go down as one of my all-time favorite memories. And when you came to VT for Mac and Cheese festival, that was pretty awesome too.
ME: Why exactly are we still friends?
SHANE COLLINS: Probably because we’re both writers and we both love good beer, movies, speculative fiction, and mac and cheese. You’re a genuine, honest person, qualities I don’t often find in people. But mostly I know you’re going to be a famous novelist/screenwriter and I’m kind of just hoping to ride your coattails to success.
ME: Anything you want me to plug?
SHANE COLLINS: Yes! A short story of mine was recently published in The Master’s Review Volume III and it was selected by one of my favorite authors no less — Lev Grossman! Pretty cool. Also, if you like Vermont beer, you should check out my BEER BLOG. I update it once or twice a month with articles about cool stuff going on here involving booze.
Shane is a fellow Stonecoaster, soon to be an alum like myself. Stonecoasters are often fiercely loyal to one another, having been through the fires of the MFA experience. However, due to my own social anxieties and a mix of bad luck – I didn’t really meet Shane until I was almost graduated. The summer before I officially met him, some friends of mine were visiting a house he was renting with another Stonecoaster for the summer semester. I wanted to hang out with everyone, but I really wanted to hang out in Brunswick, Maine and enjoy the town and the Bowdoin College campus so I never did visit that house. I’d heard he could make a mean pizza (which is true, by the way – I experienced one later on) and I briefly spoke with him during the dinner everyone goes to after graduation is over.
However, when I came back for my final winter residency about six months later – I ended up going to get food and beer with Shane and a mutual friend and Stonecoaster mentioned above named Richard. The three of us had a good time, good conversation, and some good laughs. Eventually, though Shane was a semester below my friends and I, we adopted him into our group. In my graduation semester, Shane rented a farmhouse with all of us where I was able to get to know him even better (and he made each of us our own specific brand of beer, which was amazing…mine was ‘Joe’s ‘Murican Red’). Now, I consider him a very close friend and having seen his writing (go visit his blog, too) I can also say that he’s a terrific writer.
One of the best memories I have of Shane is sort of morbid, but is much appreciated. During my graduation semester, I was bringing a fellow Stonecoaster (and good friend) to his graduate presentation when I struck a deer. The deer was killed, my car was pretty messed up. During the aftermath, I was okay but went into a sort of shock and wasn’t able to think clearly. I just kept looking over at the deer, hoping it wasn’t still alive. Shane took action and moved to the deer’s still form on the pavement and gently moved it out of traffic. In my state of mind, I would never have thought to move the deer. I was horrified that I’d even hit it, and I was sad and didn’t want to confront the death I’d caused. Shane just did it, because he knew it needed to be done and he’s just that kind of person.
Another great memory I have, which is lots more positive, is when I recently had my birthday in September. Shane and his wife Chloe invited me and my girlfriend to stay with them for a week of fun, and to go to the Mac and Cheese Festival put on by Harpoon Brewery, where Shane works. During that time, I was able to hang with fellow Stonecoasters (though most of us had just graduated) as well as eat lots of good food, drink lots of beer, and just generally have fun and enjoy beautiful Vermont. Shane guided us around Montpelier, even, and we took a tour of the State House. Even now, tonight is the night before I host him, in turn, for a couple of days during his own graduation semester – and I get to see him graduate like I did this past summer.
Shane is one of those people who is not only kind, but very honest and very genuine. What he said about me above in his interview goes double for him. I’m glad I got to know him, though I’m sad we didn’t have even more Stonecoast memories together. I’m sure that he will move on to be a successful educator and a prolific writer, and I’m glad I get to witness such an outstanding individual reach for the stars, standing beside him as a friend.
And now, I will leave you with some relevant photos of Shane (and one video).