When did you start putting pen to paper?
I’ve been writing poetry since high school, but I only started writing fiction six months ago (I’ll let you figure out how old I am on your own). While in school, I was lucky enough to have an amazing writing teacher, Jonathan Wall, who opened up my literary world with Poe, Plath, Ginsberg, Snyder, E.E. Cummings, you name it. The literature I read and the writing exercises that I was introduced to changed how I saw the world: my understanding of identity was completely changed. I am forever grateful to you, Mr. Wall.
- What’s your literary poison – prose, poetry, etc.?
Poetry! Especially poetry that plays with placement on the page and punctuation. When it comes to fiction, I’m a sucker for a good micro story.
- Who is your favorite fictional hero?
Hig, a middle-aged man who survives an epidemic and is struggling to find meaning in his post-apocalyptic life with his dog. Hig is the main character in Peter Heller’s “Dog Stars.” I love his character because he’s often scared as hell, but he doesn’t let that fear control his life. This book was an amazing, accidental find at an airport.
- Which famous writer can you most identify with?
David Sedaris, without a doubt. Sedaris allows readers to take part in his most personal, and often humiliating, moments, and I can really commiserate with his bumbling nature. Plus, he keeps me laughing, hoping, and smiling about life, too (something I hope to do for readers one day, myself).
- What are your current projects? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest.)
Write now (like how I did that?) I’m working on two projects. The first is a compilation of short stories that coincide with the seasons and which will hopefully be coming out next fall. The second is a novella that follows a robot who’s been stranded on earth and is desperately trying to get back home.
- If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book or writing piece?
Luckily, I’m right in the middle of my first project, so I can (and will) make a lot of changes as I go. If I could go back in time, though, I would definitely have joined a writing group much earlier in life. Writing groups help push us to recognize our flaws and fix our bad habits as writers, and I’m truly grateful that the group I’m in now is so honest and supportive.
- Do you have any advice for other writers?
Edit your work. Please. And don’t be afraid to rework your pieces. Show them to your toughest critics and put your pride aside. I know it sometimes hurts to have your work critiqued (and probably brutally torn apart, in my case), but after a while you’ll begin to recognize similar threads of criticism from different people; you’ll be able to identify reoccurring problems with your writing that you’d otherwise look over. And although it sucks to have people point out all the flaws in your work, it’s also incredibly beneficial to your improving your craft. Write. Edit. Critique. Rewrite. Edit some more. I promise it’ll all be worth it.
- What were your grades like in English class? (A, B, anything less than this is shameful 😉
A’s baby, all the way.
- How much research do you do for your writing?
Over time, I’ve begun to notice that I the amount of time that I spend researching has been increasing steadily, but I honestly don’t think I spend enough time researching yet. For now, let’s just say there’s a direct correlation between how much coffee I have in front of me and how much research I’m willing to conduct for a piece.
- Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
For the most part, I write on my computer. But if I’m having a hard time starting a piece, or if I’m on vacation, I use good ol’ pen and paper. There’s something to say for the intentionality of writing with pen and paper, a certain sense of purpose, you could say, that I appreciate and enjoy.
- What is the best advice you’ve been given?
Don’t put financial pressure on your creative writing. It’ll kill your creativity and your inspiration and you’ll end up feeling resentful. For now, just let yourself fall in love with writing. – Sage advice from Elizabeth Gilbert in “Big Magic.”
- What book do you think everyone should read?
The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, and the Giver, by Lois Lowry. These two books had a huge impact on me during points in my life where I wasn’t sure how best to approach obstacles in my way. If you haven’t read them, they’re worth the time and energy. They’re amazing books and they both have a stark beauty to them that will take your breath away.
- Two-part question: Do you play an musical instrument? And what instrument would you like to learn to play?
I don’t play any musical instruments, but I’d love to learn to play the piano. I have one in my home that currently serves as a mail collector, key holder, clothing rack, and basically anything else except a musical tool. Hopefully, that’ll change one day soon.
- What process did (or are you going) you go through to get your book published?
I’m going to self-publish, and I’m going to try like hell to have a good time doing it. My goal is to sell one hundred copies in one year (most books don’t sell more than 100 copies, ever). It’s scary and exciting at the same time, but I feel compelled to just get my work out there in the world, despite the fear.
- Who would you like to change places with… i.e. live someone else’s life for a week?
I don’t want to change places with anyone, really, but I’d love to spend a week with Gary Snyder in California. I want to love and live like a crazed Zen beatnik, talking to the desert and hiking with (a younger) Gary Snyder and writing my little heart out. That’s where I think I’ll find my zen…
- If you weren’t a writer, what would be your ideal profession?
Editor! Professional book reviewer! Journalist! (I know, I know, these all include writing, but I can’t help it)
- Two-part question: Bill Murray or Chevy Chase? And John Cleese or Michael Palin?
Can I choose Will Ferrell instead of BM or CC? Oh, and I choose Michael Palin, thank you very much.
- What’s your most rewarding literary accomplishment to date (one that just blew your mind!)
It may not sound all that amazing, but a drabble (a story with only 100 words) that I recently wrote, titled “The King’s Coat,” was chosen for publication online at 101words.com. I love writing short stories and micro fiction, and this piece was a lot of fun to work out. I felt very content and satisfied when I completed this piece, and when it was chosen for publication on Christmas day, I felt a surprising sense of accomplishment and validation. A small thing, really, but it brought me a lot of joy.
- What quote do you live by?
I don’t have a quote as much as I have guiding principles that I try to embody in everything I do. I strive to live a life of quality, a life filled with courage, compassion, and humility.
- What would be your ideal writer profession ambition? (famous Pulitzer Prize winning author, successful self-published author as a day job, etc.)
Local Poet Laureate! And columnist for the New York Times.
- Would you like to ask me a question?
How did you break into the writing field for online magazines? Was it a long process? Did you stumble into it?
Great question. I had a research project at the law firm I worked at regarding online publications and stumbled upon some that were looking for newbie writers to write for them and jumped at the chance. I relished a great distraction from the perils of writing my fiction novel (and still do). My most current online gig is for The Review Review magazine, such a huge opportunity to write about fellow authors and publishers.
Special thanks to Christina for interviewing with me! A super talented writer (impressive New York Times columnist!) we all look forward to reading more of Christina’s work!
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