Mar 132018
 

Stories should be like disobedient pets, always ready to defy, always challenging and frustrating, but sometimes, for reasons entirely unknown, delighting.”

How did you discover that you were a writer?

Mostly from my G.I. Joe guys.  Once I realized I was more interested in my toys than what was happening on the TV show, I knew there was something weird about me.

Describe your writing process.

If try to write every day.  If I can’t write, I read.  If I can’t read, I watch Altered States. That usually does the trick.

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

I am reading a story called “The Unified Conspiracy Theory.”  I am fascinated by conspiracy theories and what they tell us about ourselves.  It can be a way to look at what we are afraid of and what we have a hard time admitting to ourselves.  The more inaccurate the theory, the more it tells us about the world we live in and the more interesting it becomes.

What are you working on now?

I have a short story called “The Parts of a Shadow” appearing in Bourbon Penn later this year.  The story is about the lost boys of Barrie’s Neverland being discovered and becoming wards of the state.  I’m also working on a novel (but then again, who isn’t?).

What was the last great thing you read by another author?

I just discovered a writer named Cole Bucciaglia Nagamatsu whose work, especially the prose poem “Flightless Creatures” in the lit mag West Branch, is strange and compelling and beautiful.  I have been telling anyone who will listen about Suzanne Burns’ short fiction.  Her first book Misfits & Other Heroes is maybe the most underrated book of the 21st Century.

A story I just read called “The Men” by Lydia Millet in The Baffler still has me unsettled.  It is a beautiful inversion of the Snow White story.  It doesn’t do what you expect it to do.  I love when that happens.  No story should do what you expect it to do.  Stories should be like disobedient pets, always ready to defy, always challenging and frustrating, but sometimes, for reasons entirely unknown, delighting.

I also love to read the work of my friends and people I know.  People like Dan Leach, Ray Ziemer, James Charlesworth, Noah Kucij, Debbie Urbanski, and Blake Kimzey have taught me so much with their work.  Looking at peers and seeing how they produce their own work is a very important process for a writer.

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which writer, dead or alive, do you invite?

I’ve heard John Crow Ransom, Franz Kafka, George Plimpton, and Truman Capote were all amazing at dinner parties, but as I age I am less interested in arguing with charming raconteurs and more interested in having a nice time.  So, since Junot Diaz gushing over Toni Morrison is one of the sweetest things on the internet (https://youtu.be/J5kytPjYjSQ) and since they are two of the greatest writers in history and also happen to have gentle and beautiful spirits, my impulse is to invite them.

Mar 122018
 

I have a few stories in the works at the same time, and as one of characters in my short story ‘Roommates’ says: if I talk about them I can’t write them.”

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

I’ll be reading the short story, “Until There’s Not,” from my latest collection, A Woman Walked into the Bar.  The story was inspired by a man with a band-aid on his hand who boarded a Metra train I was riding.  He carried a cup of coffee and a worn briefcase, and I watched as he tried to maneuver without spilling his drink.  His movements were so interesting I started writing them in the notebook I always carry, and before long his story began to emerge from my imagination.  The story was first published in Crannog magazine in Ireland.

What are you working on now?

I have a few stories in the works at the same time, and as one of characters in my short story “Roommates” says: if I talk about them I can’t write them.  I just finished a piece of flash fiction titled, “Open House,” which I’m sending to magazines now. I’m also revising a stage play.

One of the fun things I’m doing is visiting with book clubs that have chosen my book, answering questions and reading a little from my stories.

What was the last great thing you read by another author? 

Most recently Lincoln at the Bardo by George Saunders.  I put off reading this because Saunders was one of the few successful writers who considered himself a short story writer and was an inspiration because he didn’t need the “validation” of writing novels.  However, I read an interview with Saunders who said he didn’t set out to write a novel, the story just grew beyond its bounds. The novel was fascinating.

You’re organizing a literary dinner party.  Which writer, dead or alive, do you invite?

Only one?  Flannery O’Connor.

Mar 062018
 

On Sunday, March 18 at 7 pm,  Waterline Writers will feature authors Linda Heuring, Kate Johnson, Matthew Meade, Phil Rice and Ray Ziemer. 

In her exceptional collection of stories, A Woman Walked Into The Bar, Linda Heuring’s beleaguered protagonist gets total revenge on his boss by spilling just one tiny drop of blood.  

We’ll admit that Kate Johnson’s story had us at “She woke in a tiny bed shaped like a race car … evidently she had slept with the wrong Ruby,” the first line from her humorous murder-mystery, Skip Tracer, Heart Breaker. 

Matthew Meade’s A Unified Conspiracy Theory begins with “I didn’t care about much that summer. Even the break-in didn’t bother me,” then it takes us into extra-terrestrial territory that will bother us. 

In Winter Sun: A Memoir of Love and HospicePhil Rice writes of great love and great loss, bringing a rare clarity of vision to the loss, and choosing to dwell in the beauty of the love. 

Ray Ziemer offers us poetic tastings of two wines, Desire … “(its) cranberry blood redolent with … late-hour coffee, indulgent chocolate, wild raspberry of untamed lands” and Grief … “Pair this wine with bitter herbs and salt.” 

Admission is $5/$3 students. You’ll have the opportunity to purchase signed copies of authors’ books, wine or beer ($5), a hand-tooled pen from Wooden Writers or a hand-constructed book from Tieri Ton. We also offer food from The Market at Gaetano’s and desserts from Limestone Coffee & Tea!

Everyone is welcome! Writers may bring a 5-minute piece to share at our 8:30 Open Mic or follow the Submission Guidelines to be considered as a future featured writer. Note the deadline for our call for submissions for May’s Let The Blues Be Your Muse  is March 30th. 

Waterline Writers, 3rd Sundays at 7 pm, September to May, in the newly accessible art gallery at Water Street Studios, 160 S. Water Street, Batavia IL. 

Contact Anne Veague or Kevin Moriarity at waterlinewriters@gmail.com or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

Feb 162018
 

… for some people, the past continues to gnaw at and disturb the present, and maybe this seemingly simple sentence is at root behind everything I’ve ever felt compelled to write.”

How did you discover that you were a writer?

In adolescence when it was the only way I could sort out the chaos that life seemed to be; it then became the only way for me to understand, to be able to put my emotions or experiences into a form and then look at them from more of a distance. And then, (or therefore?) I really wasn’t suited for any other line of work.

Describe your writing process.

By now, I’m not so much spewing raw emotion in order to control, examine and understand it. Working on a current project is discipline, but without any mandatory “words per day.” I do not stress over long dry periods because I know my brain is working behind-the-scenes and eventually I’ll know where to go. All through the day (and night) if I get an idea for anything from a piece of dialogue to a detail that has to change, I write it on a scrap of paper and those scraps end up on my desk to be attended to (expanded or remembered) in word docs of notes and lists. Research is very important and at times might be more than 50% of writing time. So I have two monitors with the internet on one and my word doc on the other. Research is everything from idioms and popular culture of a certain time period to how the legal system works for particular offenses or when a baby might be starting to talk or walk (since I don’t have children).

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

My selected stories were just published, so these pieces are from some of the far-flung corners of my career, all with different origins.  If there’s something in common, it’s how, for some people, the past continues to gnaw at and disturb the present, and maybe this seemingly simple sentence is at root behind everything I’ve ever felt compelled to write.

What are you working on now?

My current novel concerns a man who tried to escape the disappointment of not spending life with the person he loves, so he creates a substitute life just so he won’t be alone, and that relationship verges on abusive (with the man not the abuser).

What was the last great thing you read by another author?

Probably an Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, or Alice Munroe.

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which writer, dead or alive, do you invite?

See above! Plus at least one who can cook.

Feb 152018
 

The last great thing I’ve read is a book of short stories by a surrealist artist, Leonora Carrington. They are creepy, imagistic and full of death.”

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

There are too many things to mention! Each poem comes from a different place.

What are you working on now?

I have a chapbook with illustrations by Angel Perez coming out this year. I’ll be raising money in April writing a poem every day and emailing them to sponsors. I haven’t decided on a charity yet. I’m also thinking about another full-length collection while my second manuscript is finding a home. It’s a busy year!

What was the last great thing you read by another author?

The last great thing I’ve read is a book of short stories by a surrealist artist, Leonora Carrington. They are creepy, imagistic and full of death. The last great authors I’ve heard read were Kaveh Akbar and Tarfia Faizullah at the Poetry Pop Up from the Poetry Foundation. Amazing Muslim activist poets. 

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which writer, dead or alive, do you invite?

I think I’d invite Denise Levertov. I’ve been researching her poetry for years and am making plans to visit her personal collection of papers at Stanford, but talking to her would be so much better!

Feb 142018
 

Dead people, even dead writers, tend not to hold up their end of the conversation…”

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

I’ve always been fascinated how closely aligned a writer is to an actor, in that they both need to get inside the heads of the characters they are creating either on paper or on stage. So, I humbly thought, why not imagine what some of the most extraordinary people in history were thinking at seminal moments in their lives? I tried to choose people who dedicated themselves to physical creations or ideational constructs that fundamentally changed the way we normal folks experience the world after coming into contact with their work, be it psychological, celestial, cinematic, literary, martial, mathematical, etc. An impossible endeavor, so fun to try.

What are you working on now?

I’m still adding poetic biographies to the chapbook “Simulacra,” although I have sent it out to a couple publishers already. I plan to return to revising and amending my book-length collection of fiction, ranging from realistic fictions to hybrids, from short stories to nano fictions, called In the Contemporary Mode.

What was the last great thing you read by another author?

I’ve recently read some wonderfully entertaining comic (mostly dark) contemporary fiction writers. Some favorites: Matthew Klam’s Who is Rich?; James McBride’s collection, Five-Carat Soul; Joshua Ferris’s The Dinner Party, whose titular story kills; Chanelle Benz’s stories, The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead, ditto; and Miranda July’s shorts, No One Belongs Here More than You. Can’t resist also pushing John Hodgman’s hilarious essays, Vacationland.

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which writer, dead or alive, do you invite?

Dead people, even dead writers, tend not to hold up their end of the conversation, so among the living, I’d like to hear from authors who generally don’t say much in public and whose work instructs and inspires me. Like Cormac McCarthy, whose Blood Meridian ranks in my mind with the best of Faulkner and Morrison. Or St. Charles writer Patrick Parks, whose beautifully written novel, Tucumcari, soon to be published nationally, taught me that taking chances on voice and story, if believed in, can result in a rare, unique, literary tome in miniature. Hey, wait, I have invited Pat to dinner! Maybe I should call Cormac to see what he’s doing next Saturday.