Tomas Moniz’s debut novel, Big Familia, was a finalist for the 2020 PEN/Hemingway, the LAMBDA, and the Foreward Indies Awards. He edited the popular zine and book Rad Dad and Rad Families. He has two cats and 3 chickens. He also has stuff on the internet but loves penpals. He’s been making zines since the late nineties, and his most current zine Bodies & Stars is available, but you have to write him a postcard: PO Box 3555, Berkeley CA 94703. He promises to write back.
How did you get interested in zines?
Basically I was desperate for community as a new 20-year dad. I felt alone. I knew other young fathers had gone through the challenging experience of parenting, but I couldn’t find any of the stories that resonated with me in mainstream parenting or fathering books. And that’s when I discovered Hip Mama by Ariel Gore and I wrote her a letter. She responded! It was one of the key moments of my writing career.
What are your zines about?
I write in multiple genres. Initially, I did most of my writing as a creative nonfiction zinester, exploring the ideas of building family and raising children in radical ways, and rethinking masculinity. But I evolved into a poetry writer and fiction writer. My most recent novel was a finalist for the Pen/Hemingway Award and a few others. However, I still enjoy making zines that I mail out; in fact, I just finished a zine called Bodies and Stars about east Oakland and friendship during the pandemic.
What are some of your favorite zines and zine makers?
I still really enjoy the classics: Kerbloom! by Artnoose! Doris by Cindy Crab, Kelly Shortandqueer’s zines, anything Jonas Cannon writes. But the best thing for me about zines is discovering totally random new voices and stories through letters I receive. Or anytime I go to a bookstore that sells zines, I always buy one to hopefully get the bookstore to continue carrying them.
Your zines are in our library collection for patrons to borrow. What do you think about that?
More than being excited for my zines being in the library, the fact that zines are in a library is so important. Talk about validation, talk about the possibilities of getting institutional support, talk about being a patron and discovering ideas, stories, voices that are really outside mainstream publications. I think every library should have a zine collection!
What do you think is the future of zines?
The future of zines is expensive and grand. I believe people will always be hungry for connection and art-making and I think all of us should support the truly independent, creative world of zinesters!
Why are zines important?
So many ways but for me: joy and vulnerability and communion. And letters. I encourage everyone to provide a way to contact them. And getting letters is super fun. I’ve received so many letters from fathers looking to start their own magazines or columns looking for advice; from random people I don’t know sharing their reactions to zines I wrote ten years ago; from people who want to trade books with me. I have written a number of playful dirty poetry zines and sometimes I get the most awesome dirty stories written in response sent to me: no names, no return address, just someone sharing a sexy secret. I love those! But most powerful, when I hear from people who just want to say thank you for something I wrote because they felt connected or seen or validated. Those kinds of responses make all the work worthwhile. And yes, I write everyone back…PO Box 3555, Berkeley, CA 94703.