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5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH ADITYA DESAI

  1. What’s your least favorite thing about writing?

Short Answer: Titles. Not good at ’em.

Long Answer: Going back in. Which is weird because once I’m in, revisions are the best – it’s like being on a train. The track is there, you just have to chug along. But getting that engine going again, after all the coal has cooled and hardened, after you’ve taken a halt at the platform, working through a second cuppa, that’s hard. [END LABORED METAPHOR]

  1. Which author would you like to have a drink with (Dead or alive. Them, not you).

#3 if I’m being honest, but to avoid redundancy I’ll give a cop-out answer: I would have loved to have met one of my granduncles, who wrote a book chronicling the history of the little corner of India my family comes from. What’s more, it’s not written in our native Gujarati, but in Persian, a language I’ve been trying to teach myself off/on for years. I hope someday I’ll be able to read it, but I think it would be pretty cool just to chat with someone who I share both passions & genes with.

  1. Who is your favorite author that you don’t know personally? Who is your favorite author that you do know personally?

Answer for both, I don’t know him personally but I met him once in a personal setting: Junot Diaz, because a) I think Oscar Wao is the book of our times and b) I still have a chip on my shoulder from that time he told me to give up and proceeded to rip into the current writer industrial complex (It’s my one & only cool writer story. You should totally ask me about it. It’s not I tell everyone I meet to seem more interesting than I am. No really. Pretty please? )

  1. What about your discipline (fiction, poetry, etc) do you wish you were better at?

One the one hand, conciseness – I suffer a compulsive need to use numerous multisyllabic words as feasibly possible in a given sentence, not to mention tacking on additional clauses.

On the other hand, expansion – I stubbornly like to stick to the A-story, and envy those Proustian writers who can use any plot moment to open up new streams of thought, then snap back.

  1. What did you enjoy the most about the Writers & Woods writing retreat this year?

It’s an obvious answer, but just meeting everyone. I grew up Baltimore, but had been living in DC for basically since college. Now that I’ve recently moved back, it was a great crash-course intro to the variety of voices and personalities that we have in the city. Look forward to getting to know people’s writing – and people themselves – as time goes on.

Bonus question: Desert Island Disks: you’re stranded on a desert island, all you can take is one item of clothing (which is all you’d ever get to wear), one condiment (which is all you’d be able to eat beyond what you found on the island), and one issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine (look it up): what, of each would you take?

Clothing: What they call a lungi, or a sarong. All you need is the one piece of cloth. I already hate doing laundry as it is.

Condiment: Does chili powder count? I feel like you can get max use out of it on an island – sprinkle it on some fruit for a kick, or mix it into water or something if you need something saucy. And I mean, if at some point you succumb to eating rodents or maggots or something, blasting your tongue on fire is a great distraction from the rest of it.

MSL: Oh, fuck if I know. Did Snoop Dogg guest edit an issue? I imagine he knows how to pass time on an island.

~

I will totally ask you about Junot Diaz.

If you didn’t hear, all of our wonderful August readers attended our very first writing retreat back in March, and we are excited to announce that we are doing on again in December! Click here to check out the details, and apply if you’re interested. Come out TONIGHT, Tuesday, August 8th at 7 pm to hear more about the retreat, hear our readers share their words, and of course indulge in some summery treats at Charmingtons.

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH NATALIE KO

  1. What’s your least favorite thing about writing?

Doesn’t everyone say writer’s block? Writer’s Block. Or the moment when your stomach collapses in on itself because you’ve been writing for twelve hours straight without blinking. Actually, I love that part of writing. So yeah, writer’s block.

  1. Which author would you like to have a drink with (Dead or alive. Them, not you).

Euripides.

  1. Who is your favorite author that you don’t know personally? Who is your favorite author that you do know personally?

Favorite authors that I don’t know personally: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Haruki Murakami, and Roald Dahl. Favorite authors that I do know personally: the neighborhood kids who play outside my window and have more gruesome, eleventh-hour plot twists in their stories than Game of Thrones.

  1. What about your discipline (fiction, poetry, etc) do you wish you were better at?

 I wish I were better at transforming commas into periods, and I wish I were better at finishing stories. I want neither sentences nor stories to ever end.

  1. What did you enjoy the most about the Writers & Woods writing retreat this year?

Oh, the luxurious Hot Springs for sure. (Just kidding.) The people, the fire, the boxed wine, the ah hoc poetry reading. The relaxed, supportive atmosphere as a whole.

Bonus question: Desert Island Disks: you’re stranded on a desert island, all you can take is one item of clothing (which is all you’d ever get to wear), one condiment (which is all you’d be able to eat beyond what you found on the island), and one issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine (look it up): what, of each would you take?

One item of clothing: tactical jumpsuit. One condiment: Cholula hot sauce. One issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine: October 2009 The Magic of Fall.

~

Thank you, Natalie! We enjoyed the boxed wine too.

All of our wonderful August readers attended our very first writing retreat back in March, and we are excited to announce that we are doing on again in December! Click here to check out the details, and apply if you’re interested. Come out next week, Tuesday, August 8th at 7 pm to hear more about the retreat, hear Natalie and our other readers share their words, and of course indulge in some summery treats at Charmingtons.

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH DAVID OLIMPIO

  1. What’s your favorite thing about writing?

If I start sweating, then I know I’m doing it right.

  1. How often do you get new ideas? A thousand a second, or every 12 years when the moon is full and the stars align?

I get ideas all the time. A great many of them I never execute on because I’ll be in no situation or condition to write them down. For this reason, I will forget many ideas. But I’m not sure if that’s totally true. (The forgetting.) It’s possible that when I “forget” an idea it’s because it was not ready to come out, yet. And so I just have to wait until it does come out as something else later on.

  1. Who is your favorite author that you don’t know personally? Who is your favorite author that you do know personally?

Favorite author I don’t know personally: Martin Amis (I don’t know him, but I did speak to him in a Barnes and Noble once)

 Favorite author I do know: Sara Lippmann

  1. What is your most re-read book, if any, and why?

London Fields. It reminds me of the end game—what I want prose to sound like.

  1. What kind or creative rituals or patterns do you have?

My healthy ritual is music. I need loud music to clear out self doubt.

My unhealthy ritual is alcohol. It serves the same function as music, but it’s more foolproof.

Bonus question: If the last thought you had last night before falling asleep was an animal, what would it be?

A rabbit. A frightened rabbit.  

(Also the name of my favorite band.)

~

I like that idea about ideas. I’ll have to remember that. Or rather wait and see if it’s worthy of being remembered (I suspect it is).  Here’s something worth remembering: Writers & Words is tomorrow, July 11th at Charmingtons!

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH MEGHAN PHILLIPS

  1. What’s your favorite thing about writing?

Getting to dig into the “what if?” of all the weird ideas I get.

  1. How often do you get new ideas? A thousand a second, or every 12 years when the moon is full and the stars align?

I get ideas a lot. I’ve worked in an archive for the last two years, and a lot of times when I’m processing a collection or doing research for a patron I’ll see something that feels like a story. The problem is, I get ideas, but then I have to let them hang out in my brain for a while. Sometimes it’ll be over a year before I can find a way into an idea.

  1. Who is your favorite author that you don’t know personally? Who is your favorite author that you do know personally?

This is an impossible question to answer with only one name. My favorite authors that I don’t know personally are Margaret Atwood, Sarah Waters, Kelly Link, Laura van den Berg, Amber Sparks, and Kevin Wilson. I’m lucky to know so many talented writers through the magic of the Internet, and they are all my favorite, but writers that I have a deeper relationship with than trading GIFs on Twitter are Amy Rossi, Laura Citino, Tyler Barton, Erin Dorney, and Matthew Kabik.

  1. What is your most re-read book, if any, and why?

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster. I find this book really comforting. It’s weird and a little disturbing and it’s got great pictures. Plus, my copy was my godmother’s, and it has her notes and doodles in it from when she was in the 6th grade.

  1. What kind or creative rituals or patterns do you have?

Um. I do almost all my drafting longhand. I like to make playlists of songs that feel like what I’m writing.

~

Come out and hear Meghan read at Writers & Words, July 11th at Charmingtons!

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH DORA MALECH

  1. What’s your favorite thing about writing?

My favorite thing about writing is its capacity to defy my intentions and take me somewhere unexpected.

  1. How often do you get new ideas? A thousand a second, or every 12 years when the moon is full and the stars align?

I rarely get ideas at all, but I gather input (words, sound associations, images, and juxtapositions) all the time. When I play around with those raw materials, sometimes their friction sparks an idea.

  1. Who is your favorite author that you don’t know personally? Who is your favorite author that you do know personally?

Favorite author(s) I don’t know personally: Toni Morrison, Haruki Murakami, Margaret Atwood.

Favorite author I do know personally: Denis Johnson, who just passed away. I didn’t know him well, but I feel lucky to have met him.

  1. What is your most re-read book, if any, and why?

The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson, because her words are endlessly electric and resonant and mysterious.

  1. What kind or creative rituals or patterns do you have?

I think following “phonic echoes” (rhyme, word play, etcetera) is its own creative ritual and pattern, and it’s the one I use the most.

Bonus question: If the last thought you had last night before falling asleep was an animal, what would it be?

A little noisy monkey.

~

Now that the 4th is over, get ready for the next exciting thing – Writers & Words, July 11th at Charmingtons! Yes, Writers & Words is as exciting as fireworks. You don’t need to believe me, come out on Tuesday and see for yourself.

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH CAROLYN EICHHORN

  1. What’s your favorite thing about writing?

I love taking small events of interest and turning them into the seed of a new project. Funny moments, scary things, witticisms, interesting strangers, and overheard conversations can all find their way into something else. It’s the best recycling I know.

  1. How often do you get new ideas? A thousand a second, or every 12 years when the moon is full and the stars align?

I get them all the time, but not everything stands up. Still, I scribble notes to myself, save “clues” or descriptions or crimes in my phone, and jot things on my “crazy idea” board until I have time to weave something together. If I waited for the stars to align, nothing would ever get done!

  1. Who is your favorite author that you don’t know personally? Who is your favorite author that you do know personally?

How can anyone choose with so many wonderful writers out there? My favorite mystery writers include Rex Stout and Agatha Christie, both dead, but living on through their twisty, clever plots. I love Jane Austen, too. I enjoyed meeting Alexander McCall Smith recently, though I can’t say that I really know him except through his novels. One of the most interesting and talented writers that I do know well is Mark Rhodes, a show writer and creative director I worked with at Walt Disney Imagineering. He is one of a circle of terrific writers who impress me with their wit, generosity, and ability to see through the drafts to the potential story buried within. They leave breadcrumbs until I discover the tale I want to tell in what can sometimes be a dark, overgrown forest of trolls.

  1. What is your most re-read book, if any, and why?

I have a well-worn copy of The Original Illustrated ‘Strand’ Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that I refer to a great deal. I love all the different versions of these stories including Elementary and Sherlock on television, and the Sherlock Holmes movies, all crammed with Easter eggs from the original stories. My first academic paper to be presented by a professor and cited by another student was about The Hound of the Baskervilles. Those stories are a treasure trove.

  1. What kind or creative rituals or patterns do you have?

All my rituals start with coffee, for sure. Really, I just try to work through a very messy draft of something, pushing through even if it isn’t really working and then I come back to it later and the ideas flow about what it could be. Rarely does my first draft resemble the final product, so my ritual is persevering through that first pass so I can get to the place where I can change it, try new things, and push myself until I find something good.

Bonus question: If the last thought you had last night before falling asleep was an animal, what would it be?

A burrowing, secretive animal for sure, like a fox or a hedgehog. Those last drifting thoughts may or may not stick around until morning, though I’m sure they were clever, but furtive in the moment.

~

The team at Writers & Words wishes you all a fun and safe July 4th, and we look forward to seeing you next week, July 11th for another great reading at Charmingtons.  Come out, meet Carolyn, have coffee, hear words. Life, enhanced.

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH SIMPLY SHERRI

  1. What do you love the most about writing in your discipline (poetry, fiction, etc)?

I’m a poet, and I love the freedom of form I can take with my work. As a performance poet, I love seeing people react, interact and take in the poem. It’s like we are sharing that experience.

  1. Who are you reading right now? Any shout outs or recommendations?

Currently reading Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly and listening to The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson while commuting.

  1. Do you ever write from personal experience (memoirists, duh, stupid question), and if so, where do you draw the line when writing about your life?

All my poems are from a person place. I will write about all areas of my life but keep names out of it.

  1. Kurt Vonugut once said ‘When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.’ How does this make you feel?

I feel like I’ve cracked the part of my chest where my emotions live. Its joy, fear and release all at the same time.

  1. Do you often write outside of the genre you are representing at Writers & Words?

Yes, I write blog articles for a pop culture website and I am toying with the idea of writing a suspense style novel.

Bonus question: If you could do it all again, would you?

YUP without the fear I had when I started.

~

Come on out to Writers & Words TOMORROW,  Tuesday, June 13th at 7pm at Charmingtons to see Simply Sherri and our other wonderful readers!

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH KATIE FEILD

  1. What do you love the most about writing in your discipline (poetry, fiction, etc)?

i love when a small and simple piece of writing or music feels like a whole complex being in itself & we’re hanging out together & i’m listening to it and thinking it’s just the best thing i’ve ever had the privilege to share time with.

  1. Who are you reading right now? Any shout outs or recommendations?

julian jaynes
the origin of 
consciousness
in the break
down of the 
bicameral mind

i’m reading this because of my current obsession with artist ian cheng’s emissaries (endlessly evolving simulations generated using a video game engine), which came out of his reading this book.

  1. Do you ever write from personal experience (memoirists, duh, stupid question), and if so, where do you draw the line when writing about your life?

i do. even if i am prompted by something seemingly external, it wraps back around to myself, or can be applied to myself too. i have noticed i only produce what i can access at the present though. i’m not sure i draw a line. i’m not thinking about that anyway. my pieces are experiential blips. tiny things that i have enlarged to see better.

  1. Kurt Vonugut once said ‘When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.’ How does this make you feel?

i feel that crayola could manufacture tasty edible crayons or crayon prosthetic arms and legs.

  1. Do you often write outside of the genre you are representing at Writers & Words?

to date, everything i make is typically in scale within my arms or hands, and within reach – meaning i am able to hug or hold that thing, and access it easily. so it’s usually small and not particularly expansive, in the form of a poem, short writing or song. i don’t apply this as a limitation. the writing i make just happens in that way for me.

Bonus question: If you could do it all again, would you?

could you repeat the question?

~

I can’t wait to see what ‘experimental blips’ Katie has in store for Writers & Words Tuesday, June 13th at 7pm at Charmingtons. Come out, drink coffee, hear words, have fun.

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH DALE BERAN

  1. What do you love the most about writing in your discipline (poetry, fiction, etc)?

I switch disciplines a lot. It’s sort of like pushing all of the buttons to see which one does anything. In this metaphor I am in a rocketship hurtling toward the sun and don’t know how to work it. I spent years writing novels, comics, and some poetry but recently my nonfiction work has been getting a lot of attention so I’ve been writing more of that. I really enjoy trying to characterize something in the most eloquent way possible using a set of ideas. Actually, it’s an agonizing struggle. But it’s really satisfying when I’m done and either I have defeated it or it has defeated me. I like hearing from people who say they read my work and it really changed their thinking on something, or clarified an issue for them they never understood. So I guess it’s the end result I enjoy. Like the most satisfying part about building a house is living in the house, or in this case, writing an essay then getting a small amount of money that could never buy you a house and maybe also some mild attention on the internet.

  1. Who are you reading right now? Any shout outs or recommendations?

I am re-reading several books for an essay I’m writing. These include Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism, J. Bronowski’s The Ascent of Man, Isaac Asimov’s Life and Energy— all excellent and interesting books. Arendt’s book is a particularly astonishing work that really lends insight to history and politics on so many levels. I’m also reading Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. It’s pretty good! So far it’s been a succession of ever more uncomfortable tea parties, but that’s my jam (pun intended). I’m slowly learning to navigate the perils of picking a respectable suitor in 19th century England for an educated young lady with a discerning disposition. I’m enjoying it not as much as Wuthering Heights, but more than Jane Eyre.

  1. Do you ever write from personal experience (memoirists, duh, stupid question), and if so, where do you draw the line when writing about your life?

Yes, but I do it less and less. I regard it as something you have to do when you start. All unskilled art immediately divulges everything the artist doesn’t even know about themselves. All novelists’ first books are about themselves. If they’re not, it means that they just wisely burned that first book Kafka-style. But once the novelist learns to get out of the way, generally the books get much better. Abstracting out your own experience being a human being so other humans can relate to it and feel better about being a human is the sweet spot.

  1. Kurt Vonugut once said ‘When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.’ How does this make you feel?

Sounds about right.

  1. Do you often write outside of the genre you are representing at Writers & Words?

Yes, almost all genres, except poetry these days, not because I wouldn’t enjoy it, I just don’t think anyone would read it. Well, I guess I also don’t write plays or screenplays because it’s already a struggle to complete a work and get it to an audience in a way that is acceptable so I would never set out to write something that would be inherently incomplete unless some filmmaker or director I trusted wandered by or something.

Bonus question: If you could do it all again, would you?

No, only some of it.

~

Come out and hear Dale read at Writers & Words Tuesday, June 13th at 7pm at Charmingtons. I, for one, am hoping or more tea party puns.

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH NATHAN HOLLAWAY

  1. What’s your favorite thing about writing?

My favorite thing(s) about writing is the challenge of the craft and the freedom of the art. I enjoy being able to get my words, thoughts, and/or feelings out in a way that is creative and true to me. Then, I have to work hard to shape it into the best version of it and something that I feel confident in people reading.

  1. What is your favorite genre to read, and is this also your favorite genre to write?

Although I do primarily write Creative Nonfiction, my favorite genre to read is Poetry. It may surprise people to read my vignettes and hear that it’s not Fiction, but, I feel, poetry is the ultimate guide to breaking rules as well as keeping to them. It doesn’t need to claim that it’s creative or experimental. Poetry can do its own thing, and that’s what I love about it.

  1. Describe your ideal writing situation (think writing space (Office? Shed? Attic?), routine or no routine, snacks available).

I always joke about one day owning a log cabin out in a rural, wooded location along a dirt road, but not too far from a town. Also, WiFi would be a must. Really, I could do with just a quiet room, a desk, a computer, lots of coffee, and any non-greasy food. As for routine, I don’t have any preferred time of day or length. I simply write when I can for as long as I can.

  1. What is something you would love that your readers know about you as a writer? (That you love cats? That you edit pieces literally 1,000 times before they see the light of day?)

Every piece that I write, before even a trusted friend sees a draft for constructive feedback, is probably in its tenth rewrite, at least. I have a habit of repeatedly tweaking pieces, but I still keep older versions, just in case.

  1. What is your most re-read book, if any, and why?

Oddly enough, or maybe not so oddly, my most re-read book is The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I have read it for high school, undergrad, and my own enjoyment about a dozen times, very likely more. It’s a great work of fiction that effectively emulates memoir. I have met a few people who thought it was a work of Nonfiction. I find that to be a credit to O’Brien’s abilities as a writer. The book is visceral and real, filled with emotion, action, and suspense. O’Brien’s voice is clear and natural, something that is not always easy to find.

Bonus question: May is National Hamburger Month and National Egg Month, among other undoubtedly more important observances. Thoughts?

Of course, hamburgers and eggs share the same month. If you’ve never had a fried egg on a hamburger or cheeseburger, then you are missing out on something wonderful, albeit not healthy. I feel like the lesson should be: Even if something seems mundane, liking paying respects to food items, we should still be grateful for the things we have.

~

Those are some wise words about hamburgers, Nathan. Words to live by. Come out to Charmingtons this Tuesday, May 9th and hear Nathan and our other fab readers at Writers & Words!