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An Interview with Ricardo Pierre-Louis, author of Computer Love

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Born in Boston, Ricardo is a Chicago-based author who recently released his debut collection, Computer Love, which has been called “a compilation of poetic, earnest, and arresting tales” by Kirkus Reviews. Outside of writing fiction, he splits his time between climate change advocacy, coding, and riding his bike.


You can buy Computer Love here.


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

I never took writing seriously until I left college. Up until then, writing was something you did to earn a grade. And since I came from a poorer background, I ended up studying business; bills needed to be paid and writing seemed to be an unlikely conduit for success. However, I found myself completely miserable with business school, with the blasé topics we traversed in pursuit of a “real education.” Accounting, marketing, and management practices give me shivers just thinking about them. I was miserable so I left and started to experiment more with my life. I worked at a bike shop, learned to code, and read novels. I happened to pick up some magnificent books by some magnificent authors that I never would’ve otherwise read while in school like Bolaño, Murakami, and Cortãzar—authors who made me rethink what a novel could be. So, like any foolhardy twenty-something, I tried my hand at writing something just as great. I failed, of course, but while doing so I started to wonder if this was it, if this was the thing I could do every day until the coffin closes. I continued to write and write and write, reaching a point where I have less failures, more successes. I began to develop my own voice, my own style, and now I can more confidently say this is it; something I will continue to do without looking back.

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

For a brief time I worked in a bike shop, a design studio, and I helped a friend start a coffee shop on my college campus. Because both of us had little to no knowledge of the industry, we traveled the U.S. and visited all the best coffee shops we could find.

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

Computer Love is a book that was written over many years, so for the longest it didn’t have a title. It wasn’t until I wrote the title story that I decided on it. It stuck because out of all the short stories, I believe this is the one that has the most to say. A love story between a young artist and an older sex worker whose livelihood comes mainly from the internet. It has themes mentioned in the others, but it goes the deepest in exploring self-identity, love, and all the messy stuff in between.

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

It may sound cliche, but love at first sight. I was enamored with the end result and once I saw it I knew I’d done the right thing by publishing these short stories. It’s something I think I’ll always look back on fondly and with a bit of pride. Even as my career progresses, and I hone my talent, Computer Love will be the launching point, the root, where it all happened.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

There’s a famous song that shares the title of the book, so I feel obligated to include that. I’d say the book is a bit fun and mysterious, but also somewhat moody at times in its tone so I think could align well with songs by James Blake or Steve Lacy. Songs and artists that may have a very specific type of listener, but don’t necessarily have a specific genre.

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

I’ve always followed the advice of “write something you want to read,” so I’d say the perfect reader is someone like me. Someone a bit adventurous, flirty at times, but also comfortable being alone with their thoughts. While I love to write and I believe in its transformative potential I try not to take it or myself too seriously. Life is much more than words on a page, after all.

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

The reviews/feedback. I appreciate all feedback, positive or negative, because that means at the very least you’ve read my book, but of course I love the positive feedback more than anything else. I remember one friend who read the book said it was like a love letter to Chicago. After hearing that I almost smacked myself across the head because I thought her brief blurb was better than anything I could’ve come up with. Hearing how my stories move and shape people is always a treat, an unparalleled feeling.

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

I’m very close to finishing my first novel. It’s very short, but I’ve used all the lessons learned from my past to ensure it’s the best thing I’ve ever produced. The working title is Edible, and it’s a modern retelling of the sacrifice of Isaac set in a time of war where food is dwindling. You can use their imagination to guess what happens next. I hope to be finished sometime in early 2024, and get the ball rolling on publishing soon after that.


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