Tag: interviews

Women Writers We Love: Andrea Rinard

In this month’s interview, our senior copywriter Luisa got to have a wonderful chat with the talented Andrea Rinard.  Her story “Burning” was featured on DDR in September.  Find out what she’s working on, what got her into writing, and much more.

 

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What got you started as a writer?

I’m sure like a lot of English teachers, I don’t only love to write, I love to read. And I had stories rattling around in my head.

I’m almost 50 now, so it’s only been the last couple of years that I’ve had this urgency of if I don’t do it now, what’s gonna happen?

In the past three years, I’ve given myself a mid-life luxury. My kids are older. I’ve got a wonderful husband. He doesn’t mind when I run off to a writing workshop.

It’s only been the past three years that I’ve been thinking of myself as a writer.

I’ve journaled my whole life. I’ve always kept journals. Tragically bad poetry. Angsty, gotta pour out my soul stuff.

I have what I call my graveyard of first chapters, where I would sit down to write a novel, and I would tinker and mess with it, mess with it, so much that I would never get past the first or second chapter.

The luxury of being a teacher is that I have summers. And so this summer I actually finished a novel. Having all of June and July was really a luxury to be able to spend as many hours a day as I needed to to get it done.

What’s the name of your novel?

The novel’s called Afterworld. I actually just found out it won the Marianne Russo Award at the Key West Literary Seminar.

Do you feel closer to a certain genre or style? Why? How does this inform the way you see or experience the world around you?

I guess I’ve always wanted to write literary fiction. I always thought I would write the great American novel, but I find myself writing young adult fiction. Even in a piece like Burning, which is flash fiction, it’s very much a young adult piece about this teenage girl. And I think that’s kind of a function of my job as a high school teacher, where I’m surrounded by teenagers all the time, but also because I’ve got three kids.

My boys are very uncomplicated. I don’t know if that’s because I’m a female and they’re male and I don’t understand very much, but my relationship with my daughter is this wonderful, complex, delicious thing that I don’t know how I would live without. She’s seventeen now and in high school. So I find myself, you know, in Burning, there’s a little bit of her in that, of her responses to things. And my novel that I just finished, the protagonist is very much inspired by her.

Yeah, so young adult fiction, and just exploring, more than anything, human relationships, and how they can get disconnected. And how they play such a big impact, and how I think people are very careless with girl’s hearts. And that’s something that troubles me but also interests me as a writer.

I see the damage that’s done to girls. I don’t know if it’s just the society we live in, or if boys have more scope for resiliency. I just see girls and teens being damaged so easily and carelessly with things that, I know for me (and I’m almost 50), I still sting from things that were said to me or done to me when I was 15 or 16 years old. It just stayed with me.

And I don’t know if that same thing is true for men. I don’t know, and I can’t speak to that as I’m not one, I didn’t have that experience, but the lasting effects of things that happen to teenage girls is something that I see played out on a daily basis, you know, with the girls that I have in my classroom, the girl that I’m trying to raise. And I just find it fascinating, and it’s not something intentional, it’s just something that I keep coming back to in my writing.

Would you say that there are times in your life that you’re drawn to other styles? What draws you to them? Life events? Moods?

I mean, a lot of times I have to be forced, I’ll be honest. I’ve gone to the Yale writer’s workshop for two summers and have been asked to write in a different style or genre.

Also when I read something. I just finished Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies, and kinda just want to write like her now.

Yeah, anytime I read something, that really moves me or makes an impression on me, I think that kind of seeps in a little bit, but I’m still trying to find my own style. So it’s kind of hard to differentiate what’s mine and what’s something that I’m emulating or being influenced by.

Who are you reading right now?

Kristen Arnett. Yeah, she’s just published Mostly Dead Things for her debut novel, and she’s coming to USF next week. So I wanted to make sure that I read her book before she came.

I’m trying to read everything by Lauren Groff since I’m signed up for her workshop at the Keywest Literary Seminar. So that’s what’s on my book stand now. And of course, my students are always handing me stuff.

Can you tell us one quirky fun fact about yourself?

Oh, gosh. *laughs* I’m trying to figure out which one, so I don’t sound like an insane person.

Um, I wear shoes against my will. I’ve got the Fred Flintstone feet.

I get what’s called 7/11 feet, where you just don’t wear shoes and you run into 7/11 to get your Slurpee across the parking lot, and then your feet are black at the end of the day. It’s pretty gross.

 

For more on Andrea, visit her site www.writerinard.com.  You can also follow her on Twitter @aprinard or on Instagram @andrearinard.

Women Writers We Love: Mary Sims

This week we have an interview with the lovely Mary Sims. We featured her poem “Lavender Lazarus” back in September of this year.  You can also find her latest poetry on Peach Mag and The Rising Phoenix Review. 

 

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What got you started as a writer?

I came across some horror books at a book-fair as a kid, and soon after I tried to write little horror stories of my own with friends. Eventually, I started moving away from plot-centered stories and became more interested in individual lines. 

Poetry turned out to be exactly what I was searching for. When I stumbled across Literary Twitter, I found poetry magazines and became immersed in the genre.  

Do you feel closer to a certain genre or style? Why? How does this inform the way you see/experience the world around you?

Poetry. It has the power to give things a second meaning and shows you countless perspectives. I believe it’s made me more empathetic and opened my eyes to ideas, forms, and styles I never thought possible.

Are there times in your life where you feel drawn to other styles? What draws you to them? Life events, moods?

Sometimes I do feel drawn to prose poetry or flash fiction. Poetry is beautiful in all its indirect complexities, but sometimes I want to read the direct nature that flash fiction or prose poetry deliver. Normally, I’m more drawn to these styles during hard times, when I know a certain piece will give me a specific feeling I am craving. It can be nice to address things directly at times rather than trying to piece together meaning indirectly.

Who are you reading right now?

Kristin Chang’s Past Lives, Future Bodies, and Louise Glück’s Vita Nova. I love how Kristin Chang plays with form and language. She intertwines them in a way I hadn’t previously thought possible. She also plays with spacing in a way that gives each poem another level: an element I’ve tried to incorporate into my own writing.

Louise Glück’s ability to manipulate simple objects, such as plants, into large emotions is a skill I cannot read enough of. I spent the summer reading a collection of her first four books. I feel there is still so much I can learn from her about poetry and language. 

Can you tell us a quirky fun fact about yourself?

My friends say that in everything I do, I have a grandma style. For example, when when we go shopping, a lot of times I’ll choose the skirt with the couch print you’d find in your grandmother’s house. There’s just something hypnotic and comforting about the oddness of the patterns. This goes double for any floral sweater I’ve come across. 

You can follow Mary on Twitter @rhymeofblue.

Women Writers We Love – Allison Thorpe

We got a chance to catch up with past contributor Allison Thorpe! (You can read her poems “The Last Time My Mother Baked Bread” and “Resolution” in our Winter 2017 collection ebook, available for purchase here.)  Her latest book The Shepherds of Tenth Avenue is available for preorder through Finishing Line Press.  Find out what inspires Allison, her advice for women writers, and more!

What inspires you the most? 

I lived in rural Kentucky for many years, and nature was my constant inspiration.  When I moved to Lexington, I found motivation in the tremendous creative energy all around me:  the artists at the museum across the street, two bookstores (Brier Books and The Wild Fig) who continually hold readings and workshops, the woman who draws mandalas on the sidewalk, the colorful book benches from the Carnegie Center, the Buddha Babes, and all my writing groups. Lexington is a dynamic center of literary pursuits and encouragement.

PICWho are your favorite women writers?

I’m all over the board, and my catalog of women writers grows every day.  I do tend to gravitate toward Kentucky/Appalachian writers like Crystal Wilkerson, Ada Limon, Rebecca Gayle Howell, Jan Sparkman, and so many others.  I’m involved with the Kentucky Women Writers Conference (the longest running literary festival of women in the nation and held in Lexington each September) which offers amazing women authors in a variety of genres.  I come away with armloads of books and more new favorites.  Currently, I am reading My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh which is beautifully disturbing.  I support women writers and am heartened by the variety of voices and stories.

What does your writing process look like? 

Being retired, I have the joy of writing every day.  I often have several projects going and see where my keyboard takes me when I sit down.  I’m someone who gets ideas when I should be sleeping, so I always have pen and paper close at hand.  That drowsy state just before or upon waking is a gold mine for me.  I can’t tell you how many poems have been born in those moments.  June is Lexington Poetry Month, and Accents Publishing challenges writers to post a poem a day.  It’s fun and exciting to read and respond to the work of others.  I love the chain reactions that arise. 

What advice do you have for fellow women writers?

Support each other!  Go to readings. Buy books.  Open those doors that allow women a voice.  I am a great believer in finding a writing partner or a writing group that will support and critique work.  Even joining a book club can be insightful to one’s own poetry. Feedback is vital and necessary.  I am also a great believer in revision, something I preached to my students over the decades. Revision is a good place to experiment with voice, with point of view, with language.

What are you currently working on?
At present, I am developing poems about Rosalind Franklin, a chemist who played a major role in the discovery of DNA.  I received a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women to research and write about her.  She is a fascinating woman who did not receive the recognition she deserved.  But who knows what other inspiration may come along?

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You can preorder Allison Thorpe’s book The Shepherds of Tenth Avenue here!

Women Writers We Love – Miss Macross

In this week’s interview, we are featuring the super awesome Miss Macross (AKA Sheena Carroll).  Her poem “False Cognates” was featured in June on DDR. Her book Miss Macross Vs. Batman was published recently by the CWP Collective Press. 

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What inspires you the most?

I find inspiration through connecting the alien to the deeply personal. Everyone finds their own ways to cope with trauma, mental health problems, and hard-to-process emotions. One of my coping mechanisms is to immerse myself in the strange and the unexplained (I’m especially influenced by unsolved mysteries). When I experience intense feelings (be it abuse flashbacks, grief, or crushing unrequited feelings), it best manifests in writing as a reflection of something bizarre with which I share no concrete connection. It reveals those feelings in a more novel way.

I also like looking for connections to the personal with nature and ritual; in particular, through tarot. I take a lot of inspiration from the imagery of the tarot (which more or less follow the tropes of the Hero’s Journey).

Who are your favorite women writers?

My favorite writers include Anna Akhmatova, Nnedi Okorafor, Banana Yoshimoto, Roxane Gay, Sylvia Plath, Shirley Jackson, Han Kang, and Kim Yideum.

I especially love and am influenced by women graphic novelists and manga-ka. Hagio Moto, Marjorie Liu, Rumiko Takahashi, and Riyoko Ikeda regularly inspire my poetry and writing with their engaging storytelling and beautiful art.

What does your writing process look like?

I write a little bit every day; I keep a daily poem journal on Google Docs so I can access it anywhere. I’d say maybe 10% of that writing goes into poems that I submit for publication. Most of the time it is incomprehensible rambles about my day, but sometimes there’s a gem of a line that I pull out and turn into something else.

I also write fiction, and am in the middle of developing a new routine of writing 3,000 words per week. That has been much more challenging and unpredictable.

What advice do you have for fellow women writers?

It’s normal to feel self-conscious about your work. Submit it to that lit mag you really like, anyway. As a creative writing workshop facilitator, I’ve worked with writers of many genders and the majority have shared similar levels of self-consciousness about their work. But I feel that women writers can be less likely to submit their work because of those feelings. I’ve certainly dealt with that block – it took me almost ten years to start submitting my poems and stories to magazines.

What are you currently working on?

Because I like to torture myself, I’m working on three separate projects. One is another short poetry collection, which I’m almost finished editing. I also have a short story collection. I’ve already submitted it to some presses that I love, but have recently considered expanding it from a chapbook to a full-length collection. The biggest goal I have the remainder of 2018 is completing the initial draft of my first novella, which combines my loves of sci-fi and unsolved mysteries.

Be sure to check out her book Miss Macross Vs. Batman! and follow her on Twitter @MissMacross.

Women Writers We Love – Sneha Subramanian Kanta

Time for another interview with the lovely Sneha Subramanian Kanta! Her poem “Recovery” was featured on Dying Dahlia in January 2016.  Read about what inspires her, her excellent advice for fellow women writers and more.  Also, find out how you can read Sneha’s micro-chapbook, Synecdoche. It’s a must read!

Sneha-AuthorPhotoWhat inspires you the most? 

Narratives that have been long ignored by the world at large are of major interest to me as an academician and someone that engages with the written word. What moves me is the organic constitution of oral literature and the manner in which it has prevailed for decades. I’m interested in literature as being an alternate form of history. I’m very influenced by my maternal grandmother and mother. They were two strong women in my life and their lives have been nothing short of an inspiration to me. The legacy of kindness they’ve left behind continues to be an influence, as does everything they did for society. Their contributions to my life remain magnanimous.

Who are your favorite women writers?

There are many. A few names would be Akka Mahadevi, Rassundari Devi, Savitribai Phule, Amrita Pritam, Imtiaz Dharker, Arundhati Roy, Emily Brontë, Emily Dickinson, Tarfia Faizullah, Tracy Smith, Sharon Olds, Patricia Smith, Fatima Asghar, Chelsea Dingman, Kelli Russell Agodon. At this juncture, I must also recommend the books Women Writing in India—Part I and II. It is seminal in the sense of its extensive scope and research. The practice of this project is central in the recovery of voices from the South East Asian continent. It speaks to us from across centuries: from the voices of Buddhist nuns, or theris, and their songs, recorded as terigathas in the 6th century BC to more modern selections. The book is also important in the narratives it carries: Rassundari Devi, for instance, learned the alphabet by tearing pages from the notebooks of her children. She practiced writing them with charcoal inside a dimly lit kitchen, over walls. She later wrote her autobiography, titled ‘Amar Jiban’ in Bengali. These narratives speak to me of resilience and a certain detachment from the world.

What does your writing process look like? 

I’m quite disciplined about writing. I make sure to write, edit and spend some time with drafts regularly. I engage with reading extensively as I believe it is vital to read for as much time as one may accommodate for the practice in the day.

What advice do you have for fellow women writers?

Mostly— it is indispensable to be kind to each other. I love when women support one another as it is my belief that one rises only by raising another’s voice. We have incredible journeys, each one of us, and I am filled with admiration every time I encounter stories where women have been enablers of beautiful things for each other.

What are you currently working on? 

I’m working on my next collection at the moment alongside research. I’m also very interested in culinary skills and have been practicing the intersection of newer vegetarian recipes with good health. I’ve also been a mountaineering enthusiast and after a major hiking trail in 2015, I plan to undertake another in 2019.

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For more information and to download Synecdoche (for free!) visit here.  And be sure to visit her Goodreads page here and leave some love.