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So far, Craig Calhoun has accumulated more votes than any other Deathmatch contestant in 2014. How does he do it? He won’t say, but he does talk about nervous breakdowns at the empire state building. Read his story The Idiot Without a Coat On, competing right now in Round 6.


What was it about the Deathmatch that lured you in?

When I’d first heard about the Deathmatch, it sounded like a fun way to get a some exposure while at the same time killing the part of me that wants to curl up into a ball whenever anyone tells me that my stories could use a little work.

How’s your writing life been up till now?

I started writing after I moved to Canada and in the beginning I had no idea what I was doing because I’d gone to school to learn mechanical engineering. Those early days are a blur of quiet frustration and these just unbearably preachy politically-themed stories. But eventually I started getting work published and the quality of my stuff got a little better. There’s still a lot of frustration though.

What did you think of round one? Was it what you expected?

My opponent from the first round and I discussed this same question during our radio appearance together. I was expecting the Deathmatch to be something far worse. I’d received all these warnings from Broken Pencil and the banner art was some bloody Viking screaming from a mountaintop so I thought it was going to be rough. Going in I was all tense, ready for attacks to come at me from every direction but then I was surrounded by a lot of politeness. I wasn’t sure how to react a lot of the time. Hopefully in the next round there will be some real assholes out there who know how to hurt a guy with their anonymous internet comments.

What was really unexpected were all the wonderful people that I was able to meet as a result of the Deathmatch. Having a stranger tell me that they really enjoyed my story and that they had voted for me like 25 times is a really nice feeling. Also, finding out that the mothers of some talented and influential Canadian writers had promised to stay up late to vote for me is pretty cool too.

What are you hoping to get from the Deathmatch?

I already got what I was hoping for: my work got out there and my skin got just a tiny bit thicker. Plus I was also able to keep my friends after spamming the shit out of them for a week straight.

Any plans you have for the next round or two that you care to spill?

My core team of advisers and I have been hard at work during the break. What I can tell you is that during the first round I was able to make inroads with some pretty diverse voting blocs – the Toronto Roller Derby League and dudes who had picked on me during high school that I found on Facebook, for instance. I plan on approaching these groups again and locking in their support.

But halfway through my next round I’ll be leaving on a trip to New York City. Hopefully this time the numbers won’t be as close as they were last time. I really don’t want to have a nervous meltdown at the top of the Empire State Building again.