Ross Simonini’s debut novel, The Book of Formation, is a fascinating exploration of the cult of personality in an age where mass media has replaced traditional spirituality. But Ross isn’t just a writer, he’s also an accomplished visual artist, a musician, and a gifted interviewer. And his novel, appropriately, is told almost entirely through the format of interview transcripts. Splitting his time between Northern California and New York City, he stopped by the kitchen this week to talk about the book. We also discussed his literary influences, his experimental teaching, how the music he produces owes a lot to a fascination with writers and mythology, our collective nostalgia for the golden age of cults, “digressive” sitcoms, the art of the interview, and his somewhat-but-not-entirely useless study of astrophysics. The outro music is “Bad Past Gone Away” by Ross’s band, NewVillager.