Skip to content

An Interview with Caleb Sarvis, author of Dead Aquarium

sarvis 1

Caleb Michael Sarvis is the author of Dead Aquarium or (i don’t have the stamina for that kind of faith) and currently owns and operates Bridge Eight Press, where he edited the anthology Fifteen Views of Jacksonville. His work can be found in BULL, Hobart, Joyland, storySouth, and others. His story An Unfaded Black was named one of the “Other Distinguished Stories of 2017” in Best American Short Stories 2018.

You can buy Dead Aquarium here!

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

As a kid, I thought myself a baseball player and a reader, and when baseball seemed to be over, I leaned into the other. When I got to Florida State, I was introduced to a handful of short stories that changed my idea of fiction was. A couple that have always stuck with me are Tandolfo the Great by Richard Bausch and The Swimmer by John Cheever. I’ve always loved that splash of surrealism/absurdity in an otherwise grounded story.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I’m a runner. I ran the New York City Marathon in 2022 and maintain a regular running habit because it’s one of the things that reminds me I have a body. I’m also married with two kids. That reminds me I have a body, too.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

The book was originally titled Looney Purgatory but that felt too…looney. So, in editing the manuscript before publication, I reread one of the subsections in the novella portion of the book and really liked the sound of Dead Aquarium. Then I thought about the book, all the water, the drinking, the sinking, the haunting etc. that is in it and felt like it covered the book’s whole.

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

I wasn’t underwhelmed, but mostly liked the cover. So when the press that published it first folded, I took the opportunity to create the cover it has now. Holding my book for the first time was incredible and I’ve been chasing that feeling for quite some time.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

That the only way to survive this life is to embrace the absurdity of it all. The perfect reader is a dumb idea, in my opinion.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

The part where strangers read it. That was rad.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I have three manuscripts looking for homes. One is a novella in stories and the other two are novels. All are very good and should be published by cool people, but instead I’ve gotten a handful of rejections.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

atmosphere press

Atmosphere Press is a selective hybrid publisher founded in 2015 on the principles of Honesty, Transparency, Professionalism, Kindness, and Making Your Book Awesome. Our books have won dozens of awards and sold tens of thousands of copies. If you’re interested in learning more, or seeking publication for your own work, please explore the links below.