Interviews

Interviews, Reading Bios & Details

Five Burning Questions with K.C. Mead-Brewer

Our second fiction writer for Tuesday’s reading is K.C. Mead-Brewer. K.C.’s answers to our five burning questions are below:

What is your first memory of writing for fun?

I must’ve been in the first or second grade when I decided to rewrite Bambi so that Bambi’s mother didn’t die. Instead, the entire forest wreaked havoc on the nearby human town. This reimagining clocked in at about 4 spiral-notebook pages long. Straightforward, no flowery stuff, lots of magical animals. It’s the earliest memory I have of creating something and feeling genuinely proud.

How many drafts = done?

This varies from project to project, but I’m a pretty obsessive editor. I can crank out a rough draft fairly quickly, but editing can take months of continuously revisiting a project. Maybe if I was more careful as I drafted, this wouldn’t be the case. My usual method: just throw in every random thought that occurs to me while drafting; I’ll worry about whether it makes sense later.

What is your favorite book or favorite book-of-the-moment?

My favorite book-of-the-moment is Stephen Graham Jones’s novella Mapping the Interior. Jones writes ghosts like no one else.

What is it about your discipline that gets you the most excited?

Earlier this year I was contacted out-of-the-blue by another author via Twitter. She told me that a story I’d written about clinical depression had helped her feel less alone. There are few things more precious to me than the feeling I had upon reading this note from her. Writers have a unique opportunity to help people they’ll never meet feel less alone, and this excites me. This gives me energy to keep writing.

What’s your favorite word or words? What about it/them appeals to you?

I love the word “raw.” I love how utterly naked and exposed it is, how much it embodies its own meaning. Wonderfully autological. It can be both playful and gross, funny and scary. Delicious and repulsive.

Bonus question: This reading is our 4th anniversary reading. What is something you either have done for four years straight or something you hope to do for that amount of time? 

My writing group just celebrated its 4th year anniversary and now we’re moving into year 5 together. We call ourselves The Roving Writers because we live scattered across the U.S. and must travel to see each other. We meet via phone twice a month and strive to meet in-person at least twice a year, as time and money allows. I can’t express how grateful I am to this group and what an honor it is to work with them.

___

K.C. Mead-Brewer’s fiction appears or is forthcoming in Electric Literature, Carve Magazine, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere. She was a proud participant in this year’s Clarion Workshop. For more information, visit kcmeadbrewer.com and follower her @meadwriter.

 

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5 Burning Questions with Christine Davis Merriman

This Tuesday, Oct. 9, we’ll feature two fiction writers–a slight departure from our normal structure! (Spooky, we know.) One of our two fiction writers this month is Christine Davis Merriman.

Below are Christine’s answers to our 5 Burning questions (and a couple of bonus ones for our in honor of our 4th Anniversary):

What is your first memory of writing for fun?

I wrote my first story just about as soon as I learned to use a pencil. In a black-and-white composition book my mother bought me to use in kindergarten or first grade, I printed a story about an amazingly strong little mouse.

How many drafts = done?

For me, that number is incalculable and, perhaps, infinite. Shall I begin the count with the first conversations I had with characters in my mind?; memories of stories that first came to me in early childhood?; early chapter versions extrapolated from short stories written as an MFA candidate forty or more years ago?; the first full manuscript submitted to my publisher about seven months ago?; a series of edited versions produced after input from copyeditor, content editor, style and format editor, and history fact checker?; a newer version in which chapters were rearranged to make the chronology work better?; an expanded version in which a scene has been added or dialog expanded to develop a theme or reveal a character more fully? Even now, as I read the first published version of my debut novel, potential revisions come to me: “I could have said it better that way” or “I should have crafted that sentence or that paragraph differently.” How many drafts is that?

And don’t forget, each reader will take in a slightly different version, filtered through her or his interpretive lens.

What is your favorite book or favorite book-of-the-moment?

My favorite book-of-the-moment is Alice McDermott’s The Ninth Hour, which is about nuns and the Irish-American community they serve in 20th century Brooklyn. In reading the book, I began noticing (and trying to learn from) the way McDermott immerses the reader (seamlessly, from page one) in plot and setting (including sights, sounds, smells) and at the same time develops character (using gesture, physical appearance, dialog, and internal monologue).

What is it about your discipline that gets you the most excited?

As a fiction writer, I get excited when I am in the shower and an epiphany or an enlightenment of theme comes to me, or when I go for a jog down a country lane and my characters begin to talk with me, revealing something new about themselves.

What’s your favorite word or words? What about it/them appeals to you?

My favorite word is psithurism, which means the sound of wind in the trees and the rustling of leaves, a sound I love to hear while sitting outside on my balcony; it’s a soothing and comforting sound. Hearing it, I feel as though the trees are whispering to me. The pronunciation of the word itself is onomatopoeic and imitates the sound it refers to.

Bonus question: This reading is our 4th anniversary reading. What is something you either have done for four years straight or something you hope to do for that amount of time?

I retired in 2017 to focus on writing fiction. I hope to continue writing fiction for four years straight so that I can complete the Lissa Power series, which I have just begun with my debut novel.

Here’s the projected lineup:

At the Far End of Nowhere: Set in Baltimore and northern Baltimore County, this novel takes Lissa from age four through 22 and portrays the unique bond between young Lissa and her elderly and eccentric father. Published in September 2018 by Green Writers Press.

Where Everything Begins: Lissa awakens from her sheltered American childhood as she spends her junior year abroad in France (1973–74) and travels around Europe. This novel is a work in progress.

Culture Shock (provisional title): Lissa experiences a whirlwind year of activity and culture shock when she returns home from France to finish college and pursue her dream of becoming a writer. This novel is still in the conceptual stage.

More Lissa Power Novels: I anticipate writing additional novels that follow Lissa through marriage, motherhood, divorce, and beyond. Stay tuned!

___

CHRISTINE DAVIS MERRIMAN, a Baltimore native, completed her MFA in Imaginative Writing–Fiction at UMass Amherst forty years ago. As an undergrad, she won Towson State University’s John S. Lewis Fiction Award for a collection of short stories, and was eager to pursue a career in fiction. Then “life” intervened, with marriage, a son, divorce, a second marriage, and a thirty-year career at Johns Hopkins. In 2017, she retired, put down her technical writer’s pen, and completed her debut novel, At the Far End of Nowhere. Christine and her husband live in a 1929 farmhouse in northern Baltimore County, Maryland.

Updates

Michelle on the Last 4 Years of W&W

Milestones like birthdays and anniversaries offer us occasions to pause, reflect, and completely freak out about how quickly time has passed. Four years ago this month, I started what is now known as Writers & Words, a Baltimore reading series. For those of you who haven’t heard the story, Writers & Words began with a single reading I called Whiskey and Words, that I largely set up because I was fresh out of writing school, trying to sell my first book, and had no idea how to actually be a writer. 

In short, I wasn’t sure how to connect with the larger Baltimore writing community, and so with the help of a couple friends, I created that connection for myself, my friend group, and now, many other Baltimore writers who have followed.

We’ve come a long way since that first reading on the unfinished second floor of a small whiskey bar, Ian Anderson’s iPhone serving as the only light and a barstool our podium. I remember feeling anxious that night, because although I’d worked so hard to get people in the space, I’d completely forgotten to decide and practice what I was going to read. It was going to be hard to sell that book—the entire impetus for the evening—when I hadn’t prepared to read from said book. I ended up reading a few sections of what would later become Notes From My Phone*, which would later-later be published by the two people who made that first night happen.

Steven Leyva
Steven Levya at Whiskey and Words, October 2014

When I look back over the last four years now, I’m humbled by how many people have put hundreds of unpaid hours into this series and community, simply because they wanted something like this to exist. I may be listed on our website as the founder of this whole thing, but anyone who’s read for us or attended a reading knows the truth: W&W thrives because of the amazing editors who have given tirelessly over the last four years as well as the 181 unique readers who have read for us since October 2014.

The early years were successful due to two of the hardest working people I know: Michael B. Tager and Ian Anderson (now partners in Mason Jar Press). Without Michael’s hustle and Ian’s charm, this project would have never left that phone-lit room of 2014. We’re also eternally grateful for the readers who shared their talents and time with us that first year, along with our first hosts Blue Pit Whiskey Bar and Artifact Coffee. I still can’t believe you all took a chance on us, but you’ll forever remain a special group of W&W alumni.

Important Meeting
Important Meeting with Ian Anderson, Michael B. Tager, and Michelle Junot

During years two and three, I took a much needed hiatus from my own role in the series, and I don’t mind saying that Writers & Words really bloomed in the time I was away. Under the direction of Tager, new editors joined the team—some for a short time and others for the long haul. The words ‘thank you’ seem inadequate to thank these folks now, but I want to, on the behalf of the writing community at large, offer heartfelt gratitude to all our staff, past and present:

  • Michael B. Tager
  • Ian Anderson
  • Amanda Ponder
  • Maria C. Goodson
  • Cija Jefferson
  • Mike Shattuck
  • Jessica Welch

I especially want to highlight Maria Goodson, Amanda Ponder, and Cija Jefferson. My goodness, these women! All three have egos the size of peas paired with talent and drive so beyond my own that I’m constantly wowed and humbled to share in the fruits of their labor. Amanda does all of the design for us…for free. Cija takes on the hosting and booze-buying responsibilities, easily making her VIP every second Tuesday of the month. And Maria…people…Maria runs the entire operation. She invites readers, she corrals readers; she keeps us on track, publicizing every reading, and she does all of this while smiling like it’s no big deal. (I take on blog posts every 3-4 years and lead the silly games…clearly my contributions are also noteworthy.)

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The W&W Team – Cija, Michelle, Maria, Amanda, and Michael

Although our staff has changed from those early days, our goals and our love for this community has not. Honestly, we’re really just getting started.

To that end, I hope you’ll all consider applying for our 3rd annual writing retreat in The Woods—an endeavor brought to you by W&W and our amazing partners, Ink Press Productions. Sunday—yes, Sept. 30 Sunday—is the last day to apply to this year’s event. Don’t miss your chance to be a part of it, especially if you’re like four-years-ago me, looking to find your place in the larger writing community.

I plug this not only because I’ve been the slacker of the group and have not plugged this as much as I should have, and not only because it’s the very last day you could possibly hope to apply, but because this retreat actually plays a huge part in our future.

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The Woods, December 2017

As I’ve said, this series has been an operation of love for all of us for four years. That includes our many talented guests who have shared their work and time with us and you without any kind of compensation. (Yes, that even includes those who have joined us from NYC, Philly, DC, and beyond.)

Before we turn five, we’d like to start compensating our monthly readers in some way. This has been and will remain our hope and focus until we accomplish it. W&W profits from The Woods annual retreat goes toward this endeavor.

We have many more surprises in store for this next year, and lots of things to accomplish before we turn five (we’re going to be in kindergarten!), but for now make sure you apply for The Woods and plan to join us for our next reading on Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Thank you for continuing to support us. Thank you for supporting our writers. And thank you for bringing your voices into the world through written word, spoken word, canvas, music, and all the other ways you’ve shared yourselves with us.

And, as always, huge thanks to Charmington’s. Don’t forget to tip your barista.

With all love and awkwardness I can offer,

Michelle
Creative Editor and Founder

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Michelle and Michael

 

Special thanks to all the readers from the last four years. We love you.

Steven Leyva

Ann Marie Brokmeier

Michael Tager

Michelle Junot

Mandy May

Drew Robison

Amanda Ponder

Sarah Pinsker

Sue Loweree

Ian Anderson

D Watkins

Mychael Zulauf

Lucia Treasure

Tracy Dimond

Dewey Fox

Niall Sweeney

Dustin Fisher

Jacob Budenz

Matthew Falk

Jessica Welch

Rachel Adams

Justin Sanders

Judith Krummeck

Sarah Bare

Betsy Boyd

Cory Cone

Stephen Zerance

Ashley Phelps

Michael Shattuck

Kendra Kopelke

Stephen Matanle

Michelle Dwyer

Alyse Richmond

Anthony Moll

Tracy Hauser

Jen Michalski

Mary Adelle

Danielle Ariano

Mark Banks

Maria Goodson

Lisa Lance

Kevin Krause

Cherrie Amour

Rachel Demma

Lionel Foster

Michael Kimball

Sharea Harris

Bernard Haske

Adina Ferguson

Analysis the Poet

Dave K

Dave Housley

Seola Lee

Tyler Vile

Kate Gillespie

Elisabeth Dahl

Abby Higgs

Pantea Amin

Dylan Kinnett

Molly Margulies

Cija jefferson

Benjamin Warner

Derick Ebert

Jenny Xie

Andrew Klein

Jon Patton

Tracey Lewis-Giggetts

Celeste Doaks

Kurt Crisman

Tyler Mendelsohn

Joseph Young

Dana Cunningham

Jessica Dotson

Bremer Acosta

Lisa Van Wormer

Courtney Sender

Rachel Howard

Jose Diaz

Stephanie Joyal

Kathy Flann

Slangston Hughes

Nancy Murray

Alan Resnick

James Magruder

Hannah Sawyerr

Khaliah Williams

CL Bledsoe

Jordannah Elizabeth

Jordan Card

Tim Paggi

Jessica Hudgins

Lady Brion

Tariq Toure

Tom Monteleone

JP Allen

Ayon Nandi

Theresa Columbus

Nate Brown

Thea Brown

Erin Drew

Ron Williams

Jaime Fountaine

Saida Agostini

Mike Ingram

Temim Fruchter

Andria Nacina Cole

Terri Davis

Karen Strother

Perry McAlister

Wallace Lane

Terri Steel

Alex Hacker

Jennifer Lee

Jung Yun

Girl Genius

Kayla Smith

Lynne Price

Malka Older

Leon Thornton, Jr

Nathan Hollaway

Tecla Tesnau

Jane Delury

Simply Sherri

Dale Beran

Katie Feild

Meghan Phillips

Dora Malech

David Olimpio

Carolyn Eichhorn

Derrick Cullen

Aditya Desai

Claire Dorsey

Natalie Ko

Wallace Lane

Terri Steel

Alex Hacker

Jennifer Lee

Anya Creightney

Rachel Coonce

Mohamed Tall

Tom McAllister

Sarah Smith

Deena Zeina Zaru

Zach Powers

Kate Wyer

Timothy Gager

Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson

Dave Ring

Kem Joy Ukwu

Joanna Valente

Jeannie Vanasco

Mahogany Star

Heather Rounds

Gina Myers

Joyce Lombardi

Jamesha Caldwell

Karen Bennett

Laura Plaster

Nicole Clark

Colette Shade

Nadia Prupis

Amy Saul-Zerby

Gwen Van Velsor

Anthony Dobranski

Sherri Flick

Danielle Evennou

Kasai Richardson

Shaunna Jackson

Dana Trovato

Julia Friedrich

Melissa Brooks-Cuffee

Talya Tavor

Victoria Adams-Kennedy

Dan Brady

Tyrese Coleman

Grant Goodman

Katie Rainey

Jane Lewty

Diane Pomerantz

Joe Coastal

Clynthia Graham

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5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH JOE COSTAL

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

The fame. Definitely. I mean, I try to stay a regular guy. I’m out, having a cheeseburger with my family this one time, and this young girl just keeps coming up to us, and it’s embarrassing. Fine…I asked for this lifestyle, sure. Gosh darn it, my kids are just kids.

So, finally, I’m like, “Miss, I’m out with my family…please leave us alone.”

Then she’s like, “Sir, I’m your waitress.”

She eventually went away.

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

Capri Suns with Sun Tzu.

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

I had the pleasure of meeting Celeste Ng and Tom Perrotta through the amazing GrubStreet in Boston, and I think they’re both geniuses. But they’re both so cool. So funny and sweet. I’m not half as talented, and I’m obnoxious.

I don’t know them personally. But I am privileged to know so many brilliant authors who manage to be beautiful artists and top-notch humans. I could name dozens who have shaped my wok and my life. But…Peter Murphy, Emari DiGiorgio and Sonya Larson, as stand-ins for the dozens of writers I have become friends with through them and the amazing work they do in our industry.

Oh, and Michelle Junot is pretty groovy.

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

The writing part. I have always felt the writing itself is the only thing keeping me from being a great writer. I already own the clothes and the disposition.

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

I try to express each scene I write through dance. Otherwise it’s just a lot of nail-biting and self-bullying.

Bonus question: if you were a can of something, what would you be?

Whoop ass. I want people all over the globe threatening to open ME.

~

A+ for can of whoop ass.

Come out to Writers & Words next week, TONIGHT, 7pm at Charmington’s Cafe to hear Joe and the rest of our awesome lineup! Click here to see the facebook event!

Joe Costal must be old-fashioned because he years for properly punctuated texts and non-tweeting Presidents. His writing has appeared in dozens of magazines and journals, most recently published by Barrelhouse, Quirk Books & The Maine Review. An excerpt from his unpublished novel is forthcoming in Painted Bride. Joe teaches writing at Stockton University. He recently presented a workshop on voice at Grub Street’s The Muse & Marketplace in Boston. He lives at the Jersey Shore with his four children.

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5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH DIANE POMERANTZ

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

Getting started…(and writing reports)

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

Joseph Campbell or Arthur Miller

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

Ursula Hegl & Jacquelyn Mitchard (respectivly).

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

Being spontaneously metaphorical

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

Even though I use the computer to write I must have five sharpened pencils and a full pad of fresh paper when I start to write

Bonus question: if you were a can of something, what would you be?

I would be a can of baked beans.

~

Come out to Writers & Words next week, September 11th at 7pm at Charmington’s Cafe to hear Diane and the rest of our awesome lineup! Click here to see the facebook event!

Dr. Diane Pomerantz is a clinical psychologist who has been in practice working with children, adolescents, and adults in the Baltimore, Maryland area for over thirty-five years. She has done extensive work in the area of trauma and child abuse and research in the area of personality development of abused children. She currently runs Healing Through Writing groups in her practice. She is a breast cancer survivor and has two wonderful grown children. She and her shaggy dog, Rug, live amidst tall trees on the outskirts of Baltimore, Maryland. Recent publications: Lost in the Reflecting Pool: a memoir – She Writes Press. Recent awards: Readers Favorite Award; 4 categories – Human Relations Indie Awards; Foreword Review Indie Book Award; Book Excellence Award. She is is an expert blogger for Psychology Today, and has had her work published in Motherwell Magazine, Story Circle Journal and She Writes.

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5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH CLYNTHIA BURTON GRAHAM

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

Holding a story inside until l can get to it, makes me a not nice person to be around until l get the bones down.

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

Too hard to pinpoint one (sure you’ve heard that before 😊) Stephen King, J. California Cooper, and N. K. Jemisin are at the top of my list.

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

The ones above and more. Do know: Victoria Adams Kennedy

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

Catching my mistakes in the first revision. Ha.ha.

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

Anything visceral and paratactic. I read a lot of different styles, but that’s why I really love John Hawkes and Cormac. Their sentences are like the gold standard of sentences for me. It’s like you can almost eat their words.

Bonus question: if you were a can of something, what would you be?

Dr. Pepper. My sugary drug of choice.

~

Come out to Writers & Words next week, September 11th at 7pm at Charmington’s Cafe to hear Clynthia and the rest of our awesome lineup! Click here to see the facebook event!

Clynthia Burton Graham is a passionate fiction writer who explores emotional, impactful, and defining moments in the lives of people of color. Her inspiration has been honed through the years. From listening to her aunt’s, grandmothers, and mother while hiding under the kitchen table to slinking beneath the window of the neighborhood barber shop, to walking the streets of Baltimore conversing with the homeless to the elite, she has cultivated the art of storytelling in her prose. She is a MFA graduate from the Creative Writing & Publishing Arts Program at the University of Baltimore, where she resides. Her work has been recognized by the Maryland Writer’s Association, the Hurston/Wright Foundation and her short stories have appeared in Persimmon Tree Literary Magazine, Pilcrow & Dagger Literary Journal, Academy of the Heart and mind, Skelter, and others.

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5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH M.K. RAINEY

  1. What is your first memory of writing for fun?

My first memories are really of writing. I learned to read very early and my grandmother gave me my first journal at age 5. I’ve been writing in journals ever since and have a trunk full of over 30 filled books in my apartment. Those early journals are really funny because they’re mostly drawings. Here’s an example (see photo at the bottom). One of my partner’s favorite things that I’ve written was an entry in one of my high school journals where I wrote, “The world is like a cigarette.” I’ve no idea what it means anymore, but I’m pretty sure I still believe that.

  1. How many drafts = done?

Hahahahahahahaha.

See the previously attached picture.*

* photo below

  1. What is your favorite book or favorite book-of-the-moment?

Hmmm. Favorite book is really hard. The Lime Twig by John Hawkes, Child of God by Cormac McCarthy, anything Robert Coover, or McGlue by Ottessa Moshfegh are all up there. But I have a David Mitchell quote from Cloud Atlas tattooed on my arm, so probably that.

  1. What is it about your discipline that gets you the most excited?

Oh man. Writing has always been the one time when my ego would disappear. The infinite spiral of anxiety, worry, depression, etc. that makes me up disappears when I write and I feel like I can breathe. It’s just me and the story. I chase that feeling.

  1. What’s your favorite word or words? What about it/them appeals to you?

Anything visceral and paratactic. I read a lot of different styles, but that’s why I really love John Hawkes and Cormac. Their sentences are like the gold standard of sentences for me. It’s like you can almost eat their words.

*Previously referred to photo:

IMG_3305

~

“I write and I feel like I can breathe.” – This. Right. Here. Thank you for sharing!

Come out to Writers & Words in a few weeks, August 14th at 7pm at Charmington’s Cafe to hear M.K. Rainey and the rest of our awesome lineup! Click here to see the facebook event!

 

M.K. Rainey is a writer, teacher, and editor from Little Rock, Arkansas. She is the winner of the 2017 Bechtel Prize at Teachers & Writers Magazine, the 2017 Lazuli Literary Group Writing Contest and the 2018 Montana Award for Fiction from Whitefish Review. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Collagist, 3AM Magazine, Atticus Review, Fiction Southeast, and more. She co-hosts the Dead Rabbits Reading Series and lives in Harlem with her dog. Sometimes she writes things the dog likes.