Michael Lafontaine is a writer, editor, and publisher from Australia. He edits Vending Machine Press and also started Secret History Books. He’s the author of the book Please Don’t Argue with Me, Okay? and is a dog lover, which we cat lovers won’t hold against him.
I got to know him through Vending Machine and his publishing company. He published some of my stories and when I started looking for a press for my third story collection, Absolute Invention, he picked it up for Secret History Books.
He sat with these questions for about a week and then sent them with apologies. “Thanks for thinking of me. If you want to have a go through and edit that's fine, as the Australian way of saying favourite is with a u.” This is the best thing about Mike, just a solid guy who thinks of others first.
Mike’s unsung in about the most unsung way a writer can be unsung. Not only for his talent but for his generosity and kindness. His humility even shows in how he answered these crazy fucking questions.
SHELDON LEE COMPTON: You have died and need to decide the place you want to haunt and the form you want to take as a spirit. Tell me what you decide.
MICHAEL LAFONTAINE: Okay straight off the bat a mortality question - I’m not sure, am I able to travel or just stay in one spot? I guess I would just be a regular invisible spirit - if I am able to travel, I guess I would hang out with my favorite writer, check out how they live and what their work schedule would be, how they create their work etc - maybe attend a book signing and travel with them. Then, maybe travel with a rock band or an ice hockey team or a golfer - not sure I hope to bring them luck and not be a malevolent spirit.
On the other hand guess I’m not sure I think once you have transcended this existence your spirit perhaps goes to another place where that be in another dimension - I think the I would like to think I would not have any regrets or did anything untoward for me to be stuck in purgatory so to speak and have to haunt this existence rather than transcending and experiencing another time/space universe etc. It would be cool to be in an advanced civilization in space and live in a mega structure like a Dyson Sphere kind of like the novel "Ringworld" and perhaps live a bit longer than human years to attain more knowledge.
SLC: Full facial tattoo or painlessly losing your lips. One has to happen. What is it going to be? What’s that facial tattoo going to be? How’re you going to face the world without those lips?
ML: Okay well I guess I don't want to lose my lips so I would have to go with the tattoos - is there is a technology where you can tattoo your face the colour of your skin colour? - or if not then I guess I would just tattoo my face and then cover my face with makeup when I ventured out in public - full face tattoos would attract a lot of attention and I would not want people to gawk at me in public so I would really like to just be a regular person also if I had a full face tattoo then I would be not allowed in a lot of places in Japan so that would make me sad.
SLC: You've somehow recovered the innocence of your childhood while still retaining your general adult knowledge. How will you best take advantage of this, if at all?
ML: I was pretty naive as a kid - so in regards to writing I think it would help me immensely write about my childhood as now I am kind of not interested in dredging about the past so it would be great to remember all the things that I have forgotten and the feelings I felt.
Although on the hand it would probably make me sad thinking of my childhood self thinking did I grow up to be this guy? Would my childhood self be like hey man great job - I’m proud of you? Or would he say, you’re not a billionaire man what the fuck – I don’t know, kids dream big dreams and it rarely if ever pans out as an adult so I would like to not disappoint my childhood self but I think that would be inevitable, although at least I am not lonely now as I was as a child. So I have that going for me.
SLC: You can be shown every secret the Catholic Church may have to offer or every secret the Freemasons might have to offer. Which do you choose? And what’s the first thing you ask to see?
ML: Oh man - don't even start me with this. There are too many questions I would like to ask and that would entail way too much detail so I would like to respectfully decline to answer this question as it is too much down a rabbit hole that I could not recover from.
SLC: You find a book and begin to read and realize pretty damn fast its the story of your life. Do you read up until the point in the story where you find the book and stop or keep reading into the future? Explain your decision.
ML: I would just read the book all the way through and keep reading into the future and then try to remember all about it - and then I could rewrite the book as I am living as I know what will happen. If the future is great I would leave it alone and if it's not so great then I would try to create a new reality and that would be my reality not the book version. Well that’s what I would hope but then knowing my future would probably change it in a different way that it will get you at the end so avoiding one thing might trigger something else.
I just hope that the book will end where I achieve my ideal timeline - old, happy, full of joy, family and friends together and no regrets.
SLC: You become so well-known that every single human being on the planet knows who you are. You need privacy and so your press team releases a one-paragraph statement asking for fans to give you space. Write that press release for me.
ML: I guess it would be like the press release for the members of BTS (I'm Army) when they went to the military asking for privacy while they conduct their military service for two years.
Anyway I tried to write something and deleted it because it made me giggle too much - I don't know man, - it's really hard to write something and sound sincere - so I apologise for not answering your question the way you might want me to answer it as I guess I do not have the imagination to write or the money to pay a publicist to write a fictional press release for the megastar that is Michael Lafontaine.
SLC: You can time travel to once place in your childhood but the catch is that you have to stay there forever. What age do you quantum leap back to and why? Also, as in Quantum Leap, who would be the Al to your Sam?
ML: I would probably go back to my teenage years and take up golf. I just started playing golf and it is so difficult - I would try to make a career of it and get that LIV money (for anyone unfamiliar to golf Jon Rahm signed with LIV golf for $600 million) - so yes I would try to make myself the best golfer I could be - I would probably still be shit but hey you got to try.
Ethan Hawke could be my AI as I really like that guy and I think we could have many talks about the nature of existence and reality, love and loss and the human condition and he seems to be one of the only guys with his head screwed on right in the popular imagination right about now.
SLC: A cop pulls you over and demands you change clothes with him, gives you the keys to his cruiser, and then drives off in your vehicle. What’s next?
ML: I would as soon as the cop leaves go home and change into my street clothes and leave the car a block away - super lame. Maybe when I was in my twenties, I would try to replicate Hunter S Thompson and go to Vegas and get fucked up.
I am just too boring these days and like to be in bed by 10 pm so I can get eight hours of sleep if I can without having to get up every few goddamn hours to go to the bathroom to pee.
SLC: You’re planning to rob a Shell Mart gas station, the ones with the insanely good pizza rolls, with your favorite author. Tell me about how you two go about it.
ML: I would have my favourite author (Kerouac or Hemingway or Donna Tartt) have me as an unwilling accomplice so that I can participate without the guilt. I guess we stroll in and they start waving around a weapon demanding Pizza Rolls and wings. We can eat and drink free soda and energy drinks and after we have eaten, had a laugh and finished our drinks.
I would politely leave a bunch of money for what we ate and drank and leave a tip on the counter and thank the clerk and apologise for making their life hell for that period of time.
SLC: For one week you're given the ability to paint like Picasso, compose like Mozart, and sing like Ella Fitzgerald. How do you make use of this during the course of those seven days?
ML: I would start painting as many canvases as I could for the world to enjoy. Compose as much music as I can and sing every night to anyone that would listen, throat to the stars.