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Now Available from Parlor Press: Telling Stories, Talking Craft

by on Dec.06, 2010, under News

Just in time for the holidays, Parlor Press has released Telling Stories, Talking Craft, a collection of author interviews that I co-edited with Sycamore Review Editor-in-Chief Anthony Cook.  For more than 20 years, Sycamore Review has featured interviews with some of the finest contemporary fiction writers, and now 15 of those conversations are gathered in a new anthology.

These distinguished writers discuss their lives and their craft in candid, thought-provoking interviews. You’ll find:

Charles Baxter on the myth of productivity
Kate Bernheimer on taking women seriously
Larry Brown on happy endings
Robert Olen Butler on war and fear
Michael Chabon on his reputation in Finland
Lan Samantha Chang on fiction since 9/11
Peter Ho Davies on kitchen sink drafts
Andre Dubus III on bartending
Richard Ford on getting in fistfights
Jane Hamilton on landscape and Home Depot
Nick Hornby on the Da Vinci Code
Ha Jin on being called a traitor
Nami Mun on fictional gaps
Benjamin Percy on zombies and cemeteries
Steve Yarbrough on rejection and the South

The anthology also includes full indexes of craft terms and literary works, plus an essay on the art of the literary interview by Michael Martone.  The book is available directly through Parlor Press, or through online booksellers like Powell’s, Barnes and Noble, andAmazon.  Proceeds benefit Sycamore Review, so order a copy for each room of your house.


The Art of the Interview

by on Sep.26, 2010, under News

The Fall 2010 issue of The Paris Review ushers in a new era for the magazine.  Editor Lorin Stein arrives on the scene with a fresh re-design, both online and in print, while paying tribute to the Review’s proud tradition.

Thankfully, interviews are vital to that tradition.  The Art of (Fiction, Poetry, Theater, Humor, etc.) series spans more than six decades, and now, incredibly, all are online and (gasp!) searchable.

Luminous conversations with your favorite writers, freely available on your desktop or mobile?  Yes, living in 2010 has its perks.  Here’s a line from one of my heroes, Ken Kesey, speaking to Robert Faggen in The Art of Fiction No. 136:

“I’m for mystery, not interpretive answers…The answer is never the answer. What’s really interesting is the mystery. If you seek the mystery instead of the answer, you’ll always be seeking. I’ve never seen anybody really find the answer, but they think they have. So they stop thinking. But the job is to seek mystery, evoke mystery, plant a garden in which strange plants grow and mysteries bloom. The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer.”

These interviews are a national treasure.  Click here at your peril.  You might be browsing for a few hours, days, or weeks.  Somehow, it’s all free, but dig deep and subscribe.  The print quarterly packs a punch.


Kenyon Review Reading at the 2011 AWP Conference in Washington, D.C.

by on Sep.17, 2010, under News

The Association of Writers & Writing Programs will hold its annual conference in D.C. next year, and I recently found out that I’ll be reading from my short story “Salt” as part of the event “Get Shorty: Readings from The Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest.”

Hosted by KR managing editor Tyler Meier, the reading features winners or runners-up from the first three years of the contest, which has been judged by Alice Hoffman, Richard Ford, and Louise Erdrich.  It will be a great chance to hear from several young writers–Cara Blue Adams, Megan Anderegg Malone, Mika Taylor, Nick Ripatrazone, and Megan Mayhew Bergman–all reading from stories that clock in under 1,200 words.

Details to come when the conference schedule is finalized…


Plans

by on Jun.01, 2010, under News

It’s going to be a summer of writing and moving!  This September, I begin a one-year term as Writer-in-Residence at St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., where I will teach an introductory course in creative writing.  It’s an incredible campus full of bright students, and an ideal place to finish a novel…


Telling Stories, Talking Craft

by on May.29, 2010, under News

I’m proud to announce the upcoming release of Telling Stories, Talking Craft, an anthology of author interviews that I co-edited with Sycamore Review chief Anthony Cook.  For more than 20 years, Sycamore Review has featured discussions with some of the finest contemporary fiction writers, and now 15 of those interviews are gathered in a new anthology due this summer from Parlor Press.

These distinguished writers discuss their lives and their craft in candid, thought-provoking interviews. You’ll find:

Charles Baxter on the myth of productivity
Kate Bernheimer on taking women seriously
Larry Brown on happy endings
Robert Olen Butler on war and fear
Michael Chabon on his reputation in Finland
Lan Samantha Chang on fiction since 9/11
Peter Ho Davies on kitchen sink drafts
Andre Dubus III on bartending
Richard Ford on getting in fistfights
Jane Hamilton on landscape and Home Depot
Nick Hornby on the Da Vinci Code
Ha Jin on being called a traitor
Nami Mun on fictional gaps
Benjamin Percy on zombies and cemeteries
Steve Yarbrough on rejection and the South

The anthology also includes full indexes of craft terms and literary works, plus an essay on the art of the literary interview by Michael Martone.  The book will be available for order soon, and proceeds benefit Sycamore Review, so check back here for the latest news!


The Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest

by on May.19, 2010, under News

My short story “Salt” was chosen as a runner-up in the Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest!  Selected by Louis Erdrich from more than 750 entries, the story will appear in the Winter 2011 issue.


Writing on the Margins: Community Outreach in Shelters and Correctional Facilities

by on Apr.14, 2010, under News

denver

At last week’s AWP Conference in Denver, I had the privilege of moderating the panel Writing on the Margins: Community Outreach in Shelters and Correctional Facilities.  The event featured four distinguished guests:

  • Ross Carper, former Director of the Writers in the Community program at the Inland Northwest Center for Writers
  • Nicole Piasekci of the Denver Writing Project
  • Sami Schalk and Ryan Downey, MFA candidates at the University of Notre Dame, and co-coordinators of writing workshops at South Bend Center for the Homeless and South Bend Juvenile Correctional Facility

Our discussion centered on the rewards and challenges of working with these traditionally under-served populations.  We spoke before an audience of volunteers and coordinators from similar programs, as well as social entrepreneurs looking to begin outreach of their own.  It was truly an inspiring conversation, and I’m always heartened to see so many writers eager to bring literature and the arts to their communities.

AWP recorded the event for their Podcast series–I’ll link to the audio when it’s posted.  In the meantime, check out this short news story about Sami and Ryan’s amazing work in South Bend.


Ecotone Nominates “Laidlaw” for the Pushcart Prize

by on Mar.01, 2010, under News

ecotonebrutality

The good folks at Ecotone have nominated my short story “Laidlaw” for the Pushcart Prize!  The full text is available online for a limited time.  Check it out, and keep your fingers crossed…


The 2009 Atlantic Monthly Student Writing Contest

by on Feb.24, 2010, under News

atlanticmay2010

The Atlantic Monthly has awarded one of my novel excerpts an honorable mention in the  2009 Student Writing Contest!  The complete list of winners appears in the May 2010 issue.


“Light, Sweet Crude” in Braille

by on Jan.25, 2010, under News

playboybraille

A good friend of mine recently gave me an amazing gift: the braille edition of the October 2009 Playboy.  My short story “Light, Sweet Crude” is in there somewhere.  Hopefully I can find someone here at Purdue to locate the pages for me.  I might not be able to read the story in braille, but at least I can feel it.


Hot Off the Press: “Laidlaw” in Ecotone

by on Dec.01, 2009, under News

ecotonebrutality

Look for my short story “Laidlaw” in the latest issue of Ecotone, available now online or at your local bookseller.  The story appears as part of “A Brutality Suite,” alongside new fiction by  Benjamin Percy, Shawn Vestal, George Makana Clark, and Nicholas Montemarano, as well as non-fiction by Andrew Furman, and a full-length play by National Book Award winner Denis Johnson.

The issue also features work by Sherman Alexie, Marvin Bell, Dorianne Laux, and Bret Anthony Johnston, plus graphic fiction by Jamie Tanner, and a Eudora Welty story introduced by Antonya Nelson.

Ecotone 8 is jam-packed, and not to be missed!  For a limited time, you can read the issue in its entirety online.


First Reading Jitters!

by on Nov.07, 2009, under News

stlouisarch

This Friday, November 13th at 4:00 p.m., I will give my first actual fiction reading at the Midwest Modern Language Association Conference in St. Louis.  Eek!

Until now, my only public readings have been alongside fellow creative writing students, informal events at bars where the audiences consisted of good friends, all of us primed with alcohol.

This time, I will read as part of a panel on Historical Fiction, moderated by Michael Kula and featuring the writers Camille R. Banks, Martha Otis, and Stephanie Carpenter.  I haven’t checked the conference map, but I’m 99 percent sure we’re not reading at a bar.

Help me prevent a Friday the 13th blunder!  Send me some positive vibes around 4:00 p.m.!

[UPDATE] Monday, November 16, 2009: St. Louis  was a blast!  How fortunate to be on a panel with such amazing writers, and to have the chance to talk about the opportunities and challenges of historical fiction.  Thanks again to Michael Kula for moderating!


Hot off the Press: “Blood Memory” in Crab Orchard Review

by on Oct.25, 2009, under News

craborchardreview

My short story “Blood Memory” has just come out in the Summer/Fall 2009 volume of Crab Orchard Review, published by the Department of English at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.  The theme for this issue is Color Wheel: Cultural Heritages in the 21st Century.


Hot off the Press: “Light, Sweet Crude” in Playboy

by on Sep.12, 2009, under News

playboyoctober2009

“Light, Sweet Crude,” winner of Playboy’s annual College Fiction Contest, is finally in print!  If for one reason or another you don’t have a subscription, pick up a copy of the October 2009 issue at your nearest newsstand, book store, or adult store.  You may even be able to find it behind the counter at your local liquor store or convenience store.  If that’s the case, I encourage you to enjoy the story with a cold beer or a stiff drink!


Farewell to the Summer of 2009

by on Aug.26, 2009, under News

smokymountainsWithout a doubt, this has been my best summer in years, a season filled with exciting travels, old friends, hours and hours of writing, and plenty of bacon and beer.  To top it all off, the Purdue English Department intramural softball team finished with an outstanding 6-2 record–a stunning reversal from last season’s dismal performance–and good enough to put us in the running for the league championship.

This week I plunge into my third and final year here in the MFA program at Purdue.  Finished with coursework, my only daily responsibility is a single section of English Composition, and with such an abundance of writing time, I’m looking to cranking away full bore on my novel.  I’m also on the edge of my seat, with three stories forthcoming in Playboy, Crab Orchard Review, and Ecotone.  But perhaps the most exciting date on my fall calendar is November 13th, when I will deliver my first ever reading as part of a panel on Historical Fiction at the Midwest Modern Language Association Conference in St. Louis.  (My palms are already sweating!)

It’s going to be an exciting couple months.  Thanks for checking in!


Forthcoming: “Blood Memory” in Crab Orchard Review

by on Jun.17, 2009, under News

craborchardreview

I just learned that my short story “Blood Memory” will appear in the Summer/Fall 2009 issue of Crab Orchard Review, the terrific literary magazine out of Southern Illinois University Carbondale!


Forthcoming: “Laidlaw” in Ecotone

by on Mar.06, 2009, under News

ecotoneGreat news from Ben George at Ecotone magazine.  My short story “Laidlaw” will appear in the their Fall 2009 issue, which I’m thrilled to note, will also include a new play by Denis Johnson.

For anyone unfamiliar with Ecotone, the magazine is focused on “Reimagining Place,” meaning that they look creative work about the environment that eschews the cliches of what many people think of as nature writing.  Ecotone essays and poems have been reprinted and noted in the Pushcart Prize anthology, Best American Essays, Best American Short Stories, Best American Poetry, and Best American Science and Nature Writing.  Contributors have included Mark Doty, Gerald Stern, Ann Zwinger, Peter Matthiessen, Wendell Berry, Rick Moody, Aimee Bender, and more.

Safe to say it will be a thrill to see “Laidlaw” in Ecotone’s pages.


AWP in the Windy City

by on Feb.16, 2009, under News

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It was a busy four days at this year’s AWP conference in Chicago last week.  I made the trip with a couple dozen other Purdue MFAs.  Our program and its literary magazine, Sycamore Review, were both well represented at the Bookfair.  I’m always stunned at just how many programs and publications are out there.  Literature is truly a labor of love, and it’s heartening to see so much enthusiasm crammed into one space.

Aside from purusing the Bookfair and visiting with friends, I also had the great pleasure of moderating a panel, “Reaching Beyond the Page: Writers in the Community,” featuring Mara O’Brien of 826-Chicago, Susan Shreve of PEN/Faulkner’s Writers in Schools, and Kathleen (Katie) Connor of Purdue’s own Looseleaf Writing Workshops.  It was well attended  and audience had some brilliant questions.

Overall, I left the conference feeling warm and optimistic, if a little exhausted.  A few other thoughts from the conference:

  • Does it ever seem like there are two kinds of writers at AWP–those who need name tags, and those who can be identified on sight?
  • How would life be different if we all wore name tags all the time?
  • What is the maximum amount of people that can fit into a single hotel room?
  • What would the old masters of yesteryear think if they saw thousands of would be writers crawling around a Hilton with handbags full of brochures, bookmarks, and Hershey’s kisses?

Check out the musings of other writers at The Rumpus dispatch, “What I Learned at AWP.”


Huge Thanks to Slice Magazine!

by on Jan.01, 2009, under News

In a difficult publishing landscape, Maria Gagliano and Celia Johnson, the wonderful editors of Brooklyn based Slice Magazine, are committed to helping emerging writers get noticed.

Just four issues old, Slice Magazine has already established itself as one of the hottest new literary magazines on the scene.  Their magazine’s mission is to feature new and emerging writers right alongside luminaries like Salman Rushdie and Junot Diaz.  When you add amazing interviews, thoughtful features, and stunning photography and design to the mix, the result is a magazine that always delivers.

Slice was featured in the latest issue of Poets & Writers, their second P&W nod since their launch in 2007.  I was humbled and honored to find my name mentioned as one of their favorite Slice contributors, along with Patricia Engel and Tim Mucci.  It was especially exciting to see Patricia’s name, since we’ll both be in Hilma Wolitzer’s advanced fiction workshop at the Key West Literary Seminars next month.  After reading Patricia’s work in the latest issue of Slice, I can’t wait to meet her in person!

Do yourself a favor and check out Slice Magazine!


January in Key West

by on Oct.02, 2008, under News

The generous folks at the Key West Literary Seminars have been kind enough to offer me some financial assistance to attend the seven day event in Florida this January.  Aside from being a welcome change of pace from the Indiana winter weather, it will also be a chance to attend workshops, readings, and lectures with some incredible writers, including Peter Ho Davies, Russel Banks, William Kennedy, Marilynne Robinson, and Joyce Carol Oates, among others.

Perhaps the most exciting part is that I’ll have the chance to catch up with Purdue MFA graduate and all around great guy Jon Sealy, a fiction writer of the highest order.  Read some of his work at Freight Stories.