Feb 152017
 

“One night, I convinced myself to forget about the future and just concentrate on what was right in front of me, which happened to be laundry steam from a dryer…” Read on:

Photo courtesy of Carly Kemper Bos

How did you discover that you were a writer?

I was a reader before I was a writer. As a kid, I could spend all day reading books. Our house was filled with them and my parents were big readers as well.

My switch to writing poetry came on very suddenly after a personal crisis. The stress dealing with the crisis was overwhelming. One night, I convinced myself to forget about the future and just concentrate on what was right in front of me, which happened to be laundry steam from a dryer on a misty evening. Some thoughts came to me, I wrote them down and then I had a poem. I wrote a few more and realized the best way through the fear was contemplating various metaphors and crafting them into something tangible. The crisis receded but I still continued writing.

Something I only recently realized was how my years as an actor honed my ear for dialogue and rhythm. I had an acting teacher that used classical poetry to teach voice and diction. So it wasn’t just reading the words but speaking them over and over in such a way that it really felt as though you were eating them.

Describe your writing process.

I’m trying to get on a writing schedule but find that difficult. I journal constantly and will sometimes get poems out of that. Being in nature is also a wonderful source for material but the most consistent way I create poems is through WordPlay – the writing workshop hosted by Teen Writers and Artists Project. They have been too kind to reject me for not being a teen. I usually get a poem started there and then refine it at home. I write long hand in journals and then edit when I enter the poems in the computer. I stockpile so many blank journals, my kid has forbidden me from buying more. I ignore her.

What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?

I’m reading a few poems that I have created through TWAAP’s WordPlay. I’m on their board now and really want to advocate for them but am a fairly lousy salesperson. The best thing I can do is show why they are such a vital organization. The political rhetoric in the news and social media has ramped a bit and there is a certain amount of fear in the atmosphere. Teens are living with an additional amount anxiety since Nov 9 on top of the anxiety that comes with just being a teen. Actually, the increased anxiety isn’t limited to teens these days. Fear contracts your world, creativity expands it. I have found the act of creating to help convert fear into hope. TWAAP creates a space for teens to tell their stories, be validated for those stories, and connect with others through the power of language. How marvelous is that?

What are you working on now?

My house, my job, my daughter’s homework. Everything it seems but my writing. A condition that no one in this room has ever experienced.

Feb 142017
 

“In college I turned in fake papers in the name of the Playmate of the Month every time we got an essay assignment … I’d tell you what Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” did, but it would never get past BATV’s censors. It did, however, garner a B+ for an un-enrolled winsome lass.” Read on …

Photo courtesy of Chuck Bennorth

How did you discover that you were a writer?

Mrs. Pate, in the 1st Grade, was quite insistent about it. Right after I learned to read my first word, “look,” with an eyeball drawn in in the middle of each “o,” Mrs. Pate made us write it down. Then came “see,” with eyeballs drawn in each “e.” (Mrs. Pate was either surreptitiously letting us know that Big Brother was watching or was secretly part of the Illuminati, indoctrinating us with her rendition of the “all-seeing eye.”) Soon thereafter, I was looking and seeing Spot run from Dick and Jane for reasons never clearly explained.

My first experience with non-traditional writing was when my Speech teacher insisted upon an essay on some form of communication, which I found irksome, as the main reason I took Speech was to avoid having to write an essay paper. So I wrote a fairly mundane paper on codes and ciphers, then encrypted it with a key-word cipher and super-encrypted the coded version by trans-positioning the letters in each word backwards. It was, frankly, quite irksome to then type up. From there, it was to college where I joined my buddies in the dorm in turning in fake papers in the name of the Playmate of the Month every time we got an essay assignment or take-home test. I’d tell you what Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” did, but it would never get past BATV’s censors. It did, however, garner a B+ for an un-enrolled winsome lass.

I suppose this is a smart-alecky response to the question, but if you know my writing, you know that it is often smart-alecky (though sometimes it can just be smart, and other times just alecky).

Describe your writing process.

I am a lazy writer–I don’t write anywhere close to every single day–but I am reasonably efficient when I am writing and can be fairly prolific when I am under deadline (whether self-imposed or external threat). I generally have less than a page of notes before I start a book and only a few jotted lines before I start a story, but I pretty much always know where I am starting, where I am finishing, and at least one thing I want to do along the way. Tone is important to establish up front, but once I am going I just think cinematically about what should happen next to move the plot along and keep the reader interested, then write it up. Please understand, this is different from listening to what the “characters” want to do. I’m a control freak and the characters do what I tell them to; after all, they don’t really exist.

What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?

I actually never intended to write Forced Conversion or any book. I wrote short stories (one novella length) and screenplays and was planning to attend World Horror Con with my writing friend, Jean. Jean pointed out there were going to be publishers there doing pitch sessions and I should sign up for a pitch. I replied that the program made it clear they didn’t want short story pitches and, since these were New York publishers and not Hollywood agents, no one wanted to hear about my screenplays–a statement which remains true to this very day. Jean insisted I should pitch something anyway because it would be good practice. So, I pulled out a short story idea I’d made some notes about, which was set in the near future and had a fair bit of world-building backstory, and put together a single page pitch sheet which started with an action sequence, moved through a road-trip that provided an opportunity to learn about the backstory, and included the gist of the short story sequence I’d envisioned as a scene about three-quarters of the way along. Went to the con and did my pitch. When I finished, the editor said “Is this book finished?” I said “No, I just wrote up the pitch last night, but I write fast and here’s a copy of my novella so you can see I can write.” Then he said, “I’ll read your novella on the plane home. If I asked you for three chapters to this book, would you send them to me?” Of course, I said “yes,” but once I walked out, I panicked, thinking he was going to read the novella on the Sunday flight home and ask me for three chapters of the book on Monday or Tuesday. So I started writing, eventually finished the book a few months later, sent it to him, then twiddled my thumbs for almost two years before he got back to me with comments and a rejection. So I sold it elsewhere, via a short story editing contact.

What are you working on now?

I’m more than halfway through the first draft of Wet Work, a sequel to my spy novel, Net Impact. So, when you grab your copy of Forced Conversion during Waterline’s break, you can also get Net Impact just to be ready for the sequel when it comes out, hopefully later this year. And, if you’ve already read both of those, please post reviews on Amazon or your favorite blog as soon as possible. Heck, you can do it on your phone during the break. Because reviews are important, especially to the Amazon algorithm. Math teachers never tell you how important algorithms are in real life. Maybe they’re part of the Illuminati conspiracy, too. You’d have to ask Mrs. Pate.

Feb 132017
 

Before each Waterline Writers event we conduct a short interview with each of our featured writers. This month Frank Rutledge shares information with us about his background, method and inspiration.

How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?

From first grade on I was in love with the alphabet. Interesting fact: I was able to recite the alphabet backwards. Reading vicariously came next. Magazines, books and cereal boxes were the sources but if you stood still long enough I would read your mind. To this very day I love reading. Writers are first readers. Also, from a young age I easily grew bored. Nothing seemed to interest me. Until Sophomore year HS and I discovered The Illustrated Man and Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. The world exploded with wonder and awe for me, all was alive and connected. Even now, curiosity and wonder, delight and awe are my best attributes. I had an English teacher in HS that forced his students to purchase his little book of poems. Challenging him, I said I could do better. He said do it and I did. There is little I am more passionate about in life than poetry. Its reading and writing is my life blood. At my life’s end, park me at a window with a view of a willow tree and river in the Rest Home of Metaphor & Simile and off I’ll go into the great beyond of imagery.  (Poets love sex and deathI got that death thing covered.)

Describe your writing process.

I am staunchly a morning person. I will never be accused of wasting a sunrise. I want to write when my head is still steeped in that soup of dreamy mists from the night before. Revision is a night activity for me. After a long day of my mind’s heavy lifting my creativity craves rest. Nighttime is for lovemaking and movie watching and damn I’ve seen a lot of movies.  I can write anywhere, quiet or a room filled with the chatter of undecipherable nonsense of everyday details. A coffeehouses is my Avalon of choice. Shout out to Limestone Coffee and Tea in Batavia. I prefer to write on a laptop but the slow crawl of handwriting will do if need be. I usually start with a title or a line. That first line of any writing is your introduction and calling card for the piece and for the author. I don’t plan out a poem like say a novelist. I desire the hunt and treasure the surprise destination of the journey. If as a poet, I’m not surprised, then why would you the reader be? I don’t write daily but would like to (this is where my dream of a patron comes in). Writer’s block is for beginners and the lazy. Your life has ideas swirling around its orbit. Not only your life but this ever renewing world of fascination is rich in material. Trick is: all you have to do is show up and pay close attention. There is a miraculous path under each of your footsteps. Tread gentle, delight lives here.

What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?

Fairy dust and Muse spittle. In this group of poems I will share my way of discovering the meanings in my life events. Understanding through questions and awareness. Some of my poems question reality. The poems wonder out loud about the fiction we tell ourselves, the story in our heads that shape our identities. Our fantasies and desires tell us so much about our inner life. Just like dreams when you’re asleep, poems can be deeply revealing. Poems can speak the unsayable that lives within us all. And then that leaves us poets with humor, sex and death. It’s all starting to make sense now, isn’t it?

What are you working on now?

Like the expanding universe I want my orbits and gravity, skills and experience to continue to enlarge. I want growth in my being and art. Life is about growth, Stagnation is death. (Says the poet.) I am a project person. I think in poetry collections. Creating books is my joy. Reissuing a couple of chapbooks. The hope is to have a brand new collection out soon. I will constantly be writing and sending out my work for publication. Spend more time learning from my extremely talented poet friends in Open Sky Poets. Looking forward to hosting Harmonious Howl at Graham’s 318 this summer season. Meet more of you attendees and authors at Waterline Writers, where I volunteer. Anticipating all the fresh voices submitting to Fewerthan500.com. (Flash Fiction, yo!!!)  I will be absolutely enjoying Jen May’s “Armchair Locomotion” and “Battle Cry” debut collections of poetry. I may even do a few Poetry Workshops/Idea Harvesting this summer and autumn. So stay tuned, yo!!! (Sorry, my inner Nelly again.)

Jan 132017
 

Before each Waterline Writers event we conduct a short interview with each of our featured writers. This month Shayne Morgan Phillips shares information with us about her background, her involvement with T-WAAP, and how we can help support T-WAAP.

phillips

How did you get involved with T-WAAP?

I’ve been involved in T-WAAP since high school, largely thanks to an old friend who pushed me to attend creative writing club and dragged me to one of my first T-WAAP events. Soon after, it “clicked,” that it was the right place for me, and I wanted anything and everything to do with the organization. I have been working closely with Diana and the rest of the staff for several years now. Continue reading »

Jan 122017
 

Before each Waterline Writers event we conduct a short interview with each of our featured writers. This month Adam Gottlieb shares information with us about his background, his involvement with T-WAAP, and how we can help support T-WAAP.

gottlieb2

How did you get involved with T-WAAP?

I met Diana through the teachers program “Check the Method” at Young Chicago Authors. I was already on a mission to help build the Chicago Youth Spoken Word scene, and Diana inspired me to become an ambassador from the city to the suburbs, to help expand the movement and build more cultural bridges between communities that have been historically isolated from each other. Continue reading »

Jan 112017
 

Before each Waterline Writers event we conduct a short interview with each of our featured writers. This month Diana Zwinak shares information with us about her background, her involvement with T-WAAP, and how we can help support T-WAAP.

zwinak

How did you get involved with T-WAAP?

One of my students, Qoc’avib Revolorio, came to me as a freshman and requested that I start a creative writing club at the school where I taught. Throughout his 4 years in school, he introduced me to Young Chicago Authors, Louder Than a Bomb, and became the inspiration for the founding of Teen Writers and Artists Project and helped initiate many of the activities that the organization sponsors and the people that have become integral to its daily operations. Continue reading »

Jan 102017
 

Before each Waterline Writers event we conduct a short interview with each of our featured writers. This month Corey Dillard (the man on the right in the photo below) shares information with us about his background, his involvement with T-WAAP, and how we can help support T-WAAP.

That's Corey on the far right.

How did you get involved with T-WAAP?

I got involved with T-Waap though my friend, Russ Deveraux. He was working on a show for T-Waap called Lit Lab 51 and asked me to be a part of it. After a while, he got too busy to work on the show, so I took over for him and then started working more and more with the organization until I got to where I am now. Continue reading »

Dec 122016
 

 

gotches2

How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?

Before I was a writer, I was a reader. I knew I loved books. They formed a piece of my identity. My first stories sounded a lot like my favorite books—especially Anne of green Gables. As I grew older, I began to find my own voice. When I became a youth librarian, I knew I not only wanted to write, but I also wanted to share stories straight from my mouth to open ears and wide eyes. I also wanted to encourage others to share their own stories. Continue reading »

Nov 182016
 

Before each Waterline Writers event we conduct a short interview with each of our featured writers. This month Sandra Marchetti shares information with us about her background, method and inspiration.

marchetti

How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?

I entered a story competition in fourth grade (I was maybe 10?) and won second place. I suspect it was earlier than that when I knew, though. My mother helped me to bind the book with this hideous orange yarn she had around the house. My parents have always been my biggest supporters. We used to draw together and they read me endless stories, and made up many for me. I was an imaginative only child. We had an imaginary society of elves living in our house that did amazing things and ate cookies. The elves even had their own jail! So, I always had a love of stories and would hole myself up in my room and read chapter books all night oftentimes. However, Sharon Olds was probably the first poet who made me feel like, “I could do this,” regarding poetry.

Describe your writing process.

How do I start writing a draft? Well, often it begins with a walk. I’m kind of a wannabe transcendentalist in that way. Sometimes I’ll see or hear something that sparks a poem, or more likely in the last couple years, reminds me of a line from someone else’s poem, and then I’ll want to write.

What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?

I have two full-length poetry collections in progress I’ll be reading from—one on writers who have become my influences, appropriately titled “Menageries” for now (I suppose it’s about poetry-as-collecting)—and one about being a third generation, die-hard Chicago Cubs fan. It’s a book about listening to baseball games on the radio, going to games with my dad, and generally crying a lot. Sports are the ultimate metaphor, and baseball is akin to the spiritual in my world. I can’t get enough of writing about it.

What are you working on now?

See above!

Nov 172016
 

Before each Waterline Writers event we conduct a short interview with each of our featured writers. This month Patrick Shannon shares information with us about his background, method and inspiration.

shannon

How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?

We had some good story tellers in my family and I am just the first one who started writing stories down.  However, an important thing was that from a very young age, I realized that people die and that  before they did I needed to listen to them very carefully when I was with them.  So I have been able to incorporate their experiences with mine.  It’s been like living multiple lives.

Describe your writing process.

The bad news for other writers is that I have never had trouble writing.  The secret is to get a couple of paragraphs down on paper, whether you have any idea where a story is going or not.  Writing is like building a fire.  You start with twigs and a match.  When it gets going, it feeds itself.  And this is even true when you start your writing in the middle of the story.  The fire spreads both directions.

What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?

I wrote the piece originally for a magazine in Dublin.  Based on their rejection of it, they killed it having only read the title.  They told me that the only use Dubliners to write stories about pubs.  As for inspiration, I love Irish pub life.  They are places where people tell stories.  All they ask is that you listen and tell yours.  (And sometimes, after the drinks have been flowing, you are also required to sing.)

What are you working on now?

Since I am unemployed (and my outlook is dismal) I have picked up two unfinished novels to see what I can do with them.