So looking forward to this event with Genanne Walsh, the author of Twister, in which I will try to sound intelligent about her very wise and beautiful debut novel. Please join us! Cake and bubbly, too!
The Booksmith, Wednesday, February 17, 2016 - 7:30pm
Twister won the Black Lawrence Press publication prize and was a finalist for the Brighthorse Prize. Set in a small Midwestern town steeped in its own history, the storms in Twister begin to build as a tight-knit community mourns the death of a young soldier. In a constellation of family, friends, and neighbors, the story unfolds as the town secrets are illuminated, pasts are resurrected, and lives are shaken to the core. Twister is terrifying and humorous, clear-eyed and deep-hearted.
Genanne Walsh is the author of Twister. Excerpts appeared in earlier form in Puerto del Sol, Blackbird, and Red Earth Review. She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and lives in San Francisco.
Grateful and gratified to have a little story of magical realism in the latest issue of Eleven Eleven. The story, "U+2204," is part of a larger ms. of stories titled Paper Bird Ash. One of these days I'm going to get around to seeing about having the ms. published in its entirety. Meanwhile, I like seeing the individual stories getting into print one by one.
You don't have to know what "U+2204" means to appreciate the story but if you google and find out, it will add to your enjoyment and/or deepen your understanding. I hope.
Okay, it's established: I'm not a blogger. Some people blog and then pull together a newsletter from their blog posts. I don't do that. I put together a newsletter. Maybe now I need to take info from the newsletter and put it on this so-called "blog." It's a thought. The more time that goes by between posting something here on this news page/blog, the less I feel like changing that, which would seem to imply that I spend time thinking about this, when in fact, I don't.
In any case, here's something that needs sharing, and seems to insist on its own dedicated space. Yesterday, Tupelo Quarterly launched its first issue, and I'm proud to have my story "An Uncle" in it. The lit mag promises to be fabulous, with Jessamyn Smith as editor and Elizabeth Eslami as senior prose editor. This is TQ's foray into prose, and I'm thrilled to have been asked to contribute something.
Happier still, to have Elizabeth Eslami's comments about my story, which appeared on the TQ Facebook page today. She's a fine writer and astute editor, and that makes her remarks all the dearer. Here's what she said:
I love this story…Where “An Uncle” succeeds, for me, is voice, which is so hard to pull off and which she does so beautifully. And that’s where this story has to live or die, because…nothing much happens except the cracking open of a window into this girl’s life. She’s clearly at a transitional age, and Peg nails that shift, from a narrator who slaps Barbies against her sister’s arms to one who lets her mind go there, romanticizing that uncle who isn’t so much older than she is. Antonya Nelson writes about making the most of transitional ages, not only capitalizing on their “built-in” associations – first periods, dating, sex – but especially working against those associations, and damned if Peg doesn’t do that. There are a million ways she could have been predictable here, but she isn’t. What is real is a pre-teen who at once doubts she’ll be able to learn those dances but who also has the maturity and prescience to simply smile with the hope that Uncle Lew will see her, that something like a smile will shape how he sees her. …I truly think this is one of our best stories, one that I’m proud to publish in the first issue.
"One of our best stories," she says. Thanks so much to Liz, Jessamyn, and TQ. I'm inordinately fond of this story, for reasons I don't care to analyze, and so happy that it's had some readers.
I'm not a blogger! I do put together a newsletter full of, well, news. Yeah, old school, so old school it's cool. You can get your own. You know you want it.
The Next Big Thing continues. Kara Vernor was tagged by Michael David Lukas.
What is your working title of your book (or story)? She Could Maybe Lift a Car (a chapbook of short shorts)
Where did the idea come from for the book? Each story sprang from a different idea, though several were sparked by memories of the TV shows I watched in the '80s.
What genre does your book fall under? Literary flash fiction.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Many of the female characters are young and a mix of heroic and tragic. Jennifer Lawrence comes to mind because of her role in "Winter's Bone." For the men, someone pretty-ugly, like Joel Kinnaman from the show "The Killing."
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? A flash fiction chapbook with stories about potential, restlessness, the influence of '80s television, sex, beer, feminism, blood, alienation and desperation.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I hope it will be published by a small press.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Two years.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? My stories are similar in style to many of the flash writers published by Rose Metal Press, the female writers in particular.
Who or what inspired you to write this book? I was inspired by flash journals such as Quick Fiction, Wigleaf, Smokelong Quarterly, and Necessary Fiction, and as well by many flash writers: Stephanie Freele, Kathy Fish, Elizabeth Ellen and John Jodzio come to mind. Discovering writers and markets I appreciate and "get" made me think they might "get" me back.
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest? Maybe some of the individual titles? Here are those of the '80s-themed stories: "Don Johnson Is Not Your Man"; "The True Love of Magnum P.I."; and"David Hasselhoff Is From Baltimore".
Kara tags Dave Dulberg, who will post next about his novel, Makeshift.
Check out Thaisa Frank's discussion of her novel in progress, currently entitled Light and Transient Causes. Great title -- find out from where it came, and from where her idea for it came. (Hint: "pneumatic tube of the imagination" is involved.) Thaisa also provides a great definition of literary fiction.
Ilana Simons' work-in-progress
Ilana Simons is an amazing writer who I met through the publication of one of her beautiful short stories years back. She's also a psychotherapist, teacher, and painter. Oh, also a marathoner. She's the author of the wonderful A Life of One’s Own: A Guide to Better Living through the Work and Wisdom of Virginia Woolf (Penguin Press, August 2007).
Currently she's working on a novel with the working title (today) of Is Clara Burns a Narcissist? I'm fascinated by the sounds of this work-in-progress and appreciate her generosity in sharing her process. Example: I’m a psychologist who doesn’t like being in therapy but trusts that my disciplined routine of fiction writing taps and organizes my unconscious.
Check out her share. Extra bonus: photos and art.
More of The Next Big Thing soon, with Thaisa Frank next!
Rayme Waters is the author of The Angel’s Share. Today she discusses her novel, Quicksilver, which is a young adult novel this time, and concerns a family that moves from San Francisco to an upscale Bay Area suburb for better schools, but find out the town is cursed, they are in grave danger, and only the daughter of the family can undo the spell.
Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
What is your working title of your book? Quicksilver.
Where did the idea come from for the book? The children’s library in the city where I live is a little gem: charming, hidden away and complete with a “secret garden” in the back. Passing it for maybe the hundredth time, out of nowhere came the question: What if the library was enchanted? Would the librarian also be enchanted? How about the children? What would it take to break that spell? Those were the initial questions that grew the idea for Quicksilver. In the novel, the entire town, built on top of abandoned mercury mines, is enchanted. The locus of the spell is the library and things both wonderful and evil flow from below it.
What genre does your book fall under? Young Adult fiction, but I hope to create enough literary layers to interest readers of all ages.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Most fun question ever! Elizabeth Banks would make a fantastic Lillian Flint. Amy Adams as Julie Flint and Ryan Gosling as Mr. Phillips because I can picture the chemistry working between them. Julianna Margulies as Esperanza’s mother. Any number of young actors could play the 15 year-olds at the heart of the story, Esperanza Bennett and Arden Flint.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? A family moves from San Francisco to an upscale Bay Area suburb for the school district, but discovers the town is under a spell; the fifteen-year-old daughter of the family has the power to lift the curse, but will she make the tremendous personal sacrifice to do so?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I am represented by an agent and hope to sell the novel to a traditional publisher.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? I’ve been working on the book for about six years. My first novel was eight years so I’m hoping to finish this one a little faster. Maybe the next one will only take four years.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Karen Thompson Walker’s The Age of Miracles. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.
Who or what inspired you to write this book? My imagination triggered the process; but once I started getting ideas down on paper and doing research, the story took over. As I’m editing I find myself getting excited about what is going to happen next—as if I didn’t know.
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest? Several of my trusted early readers think it has the feel of a break-through novel.
Rayme has tagged Sabra Wineteer who will post Jan. 31 about her novel, The Measure of Memory, which tells the story of a Nashville chef on a quest for his identity which allows him to discover his humanity.
Ten Interview Questions for Rob Yardumian:
What is your working title of your book (or story)? My novel is called The Sound of Songs Across the Water. It will be published in June, 2013.
Where did the idea come from for the book? When I lived in Los Angeles, I used to run around Silver Lake in the mornings. It’s about three miles around the lake, which is actually a reservoir behind barbed-wire fencing. Anyway, the story for this book came to me on a run around the lake one morning. By the time I got home, I had the whole story, and it never changed very much, thought it did take nine years to finish.
What genre does your book fall under? Literary fiction
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? This is actually an exercise I spend quite a bit of time on, as it helps me imagine characters. But Riley, the main character, has resisted all attempts to pin an actor on him. Weird. Lena would be played by Angela Bassett, back when she was 35. And Will Taylor would be played by a guy I knew the summer I spent weaving hammocks in Nags Head, NC. I don’t remember his name, but everyone called him Big Daddy.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? It’s about melody, lust, and the ghosts we can’t outrun.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Neither. It will be published by MP Publishing, an indie press with offices in San Francisco and the UK.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? 2.5 years
Who or what inspired you to write this book? I wouldn’t say there was any particular inspiration for this book. I was looking to move beyond short stories into novels. I had two stories I liked for the novel, and after a lot of whiskey and consideration with my friend Michael Ritterbrown, I chose this one. It was the “easier” of the two to write, which seemed a good idea at the time.
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest? There is an album of songs at the core of the book, and those songs exist in real life. I’ll be recording the album this spring with some friends here in Portland, and will have the record to market along with the novel come summer. Come see me read—I’ll play some songs, too!
My next Next Big Thing participants:
Sara Rivara. Sara will be writing about Lake Effect, a chapbook of poems that explore loss and rebirth amidst the harsh and stunning landscapes of Michigan.
Lisa Croneberg. Info to come; stay tuned!