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My name is Jade (she/her), and I'm a writer based in Michigan's Upper Peninsula! I love writing both poetry and fiction, and I'm currently working on drafting my first novel. When I'm not writing, I love reading, listening to music, and learning Korean!

Question 1: How have your past experiences influenced you as a writer?

My past directly inspires many of my poems. I'm passionate about breaking the stigma(s) surrounding mental health, so a lot of my poems are about my experiences with mental illness, recovery, negative interactions/stereotypes I've faced, etc. I think it's important to be open and honest about mental illness so that it's easier to seek treatment and discuss experiences in the future.

Question 2: When did you first call yourself a writer? 

I think I've always called myself a writer, because I write! You don't need to have a certain number of drafts, publications, or awards to be a "real" writer. If you write, then you're a writer!

Question 3: What is your writing process like? Are you more of a plotter or a pantser?

My writing process is drastically different between poetry and fiction. For poetry, I tend to have a difficult time drafting anything unless I start with a specific direction or form in mind; usually, a single line will come to me suddenly, and I'll work from there. It's hard for me to sit down and draft poems without that first burst of inspiration, because I feel like any poem I draft needs to already be rather substantial. For fiction, I'm much more comfortable with drafting steadily and chipping away at a piece. I usually start with a general outline that I'm working toward, although I allow myself freedom to veer off path when it feels right. Unlike with poetry, I focus more on getting words on the page and revising later, rather than hoping for a "polished" draft from the start.

Question 4: Do you play music while you write — and, if so, what’s your favorite?

I am ALWAYS playing music when I write! I can write to almost anything, so I don't have a dedicated writing playlist. However, one of my favorite songs for writing is "Wallowa Lake Monster" by Sufjan Stevens because I feel like the music is constantly "moving."

Question 5: What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

A draft doesn't need to be perfect—that's why it's called a draft. You can revise something a million times if you need to, but there won't be anything to revise if the words don't get on the page in the first place. I've heard variations of this advice from so many people, ranging from authors I admire to creative writing instructors. I just need to get better at listening to this advice, because it's true!

Question 6: What do you think is the best way to improve writing skills?

Read! I think reading as much as possible helps you identify what you like or don't like in a piece, which can than help you identify or emulate those elements in your own work.

Question 7: Who has been the biggest supporter of your writing? 

My mom! She's my biggest supporter in general, but she's especially encouraging with my writing. I'm most proud of a poem when my mom says she loves it :)

Adele Evershed

Hi. My name is Adele Evershed. I am originally from Wales and have been lucky to live both in Hong Kong and Singapore. Now I live in Connecticut with my family. I write both poetry and prose, and recently I have discovered a passion for haiku.

Question 1: What inspired you to start writing?

I started writing scripts for Pantos for an expat theater group. That was great fun, lots of bad jokes and double entendres. When my daughter left for college I found I had a lot more time on my hands so I started to experiment with writing. During the pandemic I did some online courses and workshops which introduced me to flash fiction and prose poetry. Everything has taken off from there.

Question 2: How have your past experiences influenced you as a writer?

I have come to writing quite late in life and that had definitely influenced my writing. I tend to write about women's issues, and the process of aging in a society that only values youth. I've also written a lot about my mother. She died when I was twenty and I think writing about her has helped me process the loss in a way I was unable to do when I was younger.

Question 3: What have you written that you're the most proud of?

My first published prose poem, 'Air Turbulence n Small Spaces' is one I am pleased with. It was one inspired by a feature on the radio and I've used part of the title-Turbulence in Small Spaces as the title of my first poetry chapbook which is being published by Finishing Line Press this year.

Question 4: What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you? 

I think my biggest block is time. Balancing a day job, family, and writing can be a challenge. Being an older woman I am aware I am trying to make up for lost time!

Question 5: When did you first call yourself a writer? 

I'm still learning to do that.

Question 6: What is your writing process like? Are you more of a plotter or a pantser?

Definitely a pantser trying to become more of a plotter. I am writing a novella in flash and the need to plot the development of the narrative has been a great learning curve for me.

Question 7: Do you play music while you write — and, if so, what’s your favorite?

I mostly listen to BBC Radio 4. Some of their features have inspired poems and flash fictions. If I need some calm thinking time I listen to music from my youth, I particularly like anything by The Beautiful South and recently I have discovered Amy Wadge

Question 8: What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

Don't self censor. I submitted to an anthology that I really wanted to have a piece accepted by, it was a call for poems about the A470, a road in Wales. I submitted 2 poems that I thought were very strong but as you could send 3 poems I sent a third that I was not so sure about. I'm sure you've guessed, the one that was selected was the third one. So if you are unsure, submit it anyway, the worst that happens is they say no but at least someone has read it.

Question 9: Do you participate in writing challenges on social media? Do you recommend any?

I think writing challenges and prompts have been invaluable in keeping me in the groove, making sure I write something every day. I write a daily haiku from a prompt on Twitter #HaikuChallenge and I try to take part in the Globe Soup writing challenge-they assign you a genre with a prompt and you have 7 days to write 2000 words.

Question 10: Who has been the biggest supporter of your writing? 

My daughter, Megan. She was the one who encouraged me to write and submit in the first place. I have four children but only one daughter and although my sons always congratulate me on my publications she is the only one who reads everything I write. Megan is also the one I ask to read my work and give me feedback.

Mukund Gnanadesikan

I'm Mukund Gnanadesikan, New Jerseyan by birth and Californian by choice. I'm a sports aficionado, activist, fan on the underdog, and devout carnivore.

Question 1: What inspired you to start writing?

Mostly oddities of the world around me. For example my first poem was written about a man I saw every summer walking on local bike paths, more haggard and unkempt as time passed.

Question 2: How have your past experiences influenced you as a writer?

Yes. I grew up privileged, in a suburban town, but also "othered" as a South Asian kid in a white community where it wasn't unusual to meet with slurs, threats, and harassment. I also have epilepsy and have at various times battled depression and anxiety. This gives me insight into what it's like to always feel conscious of one's physical and emotional limits, and also informs my tendency to love underdog stories.

Question 3: What have you written that you're the most proud of?

My novel, Errors of Omission.

Question 4: What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you? 

For me, I've learned this signifies a lack or loss of confidence. It's not that the words aren't there, or that they "don't want to come", but that I lack belief in their significance, and therefore don't commit them to the page.

Question 5: When did you first call yourself a writer? 

I didn't own the identity of fiction writer until I finished my first book, even though by then I'd had about a dozen poems and a couple of short stories published. However I was a sportswriter in college, and for me, that was as much a part of my identity then as anything. It was the one thing I did that gave me a full sense of satisfaction in those years.

Question 6: What is your writing process like? Are you more of a plotter or a pantser?

A bit of both. I know the ending scene before anything, and I decide where and how I want the book to begin. From there I generally map out a vague plan of what the characters might experience or do. Eventually, I come to a cliff's edge in the plot, where I have to decide how to make a bridge to the other side. This is where I "pants", and it may be a quarter to a half of the book's total length.

Question 7: If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose?

Maurice Carlos Ruffin seems like a joyous guy, and his work is both full of humor and pathos. I also look up to the poet Jericho Brown, whose work is strong, incisive, bold, and yet delicate.

Question 8: What is your kryptonite as a writer?

I think some might find my plots too predictable.

Question 9: Do you play music while you write — and, if so, what’s your favorite?

No. It would distract me too much.

Question 10: What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

"The first draft is the worst draft."

Adam Chabot

My name is Adam Chabot and I’m originally from. Gorham, New Hampshire but I currently reside in Kents Hill, Maine where I am the English Department Chair at Kents Hill School, a private, independent high school where I teach 11th and 12th graders in a variety of English and writing classes. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family, playing ice hockey, and writing.

Question 1: What inspired you to start writing?

At around five or six years old, I remember having such an interest in books and writing. My preschool teacher--I wish I could remember her name--would help me staple sheets of construction paper together onto which I would draw pictures and write out words to these imaginative tales about distant worlds and fantastical characters. Then, when I got a little bit older, I started collecting R.L. Stine's Goosebumps series and as I read each book, I begin writing my own versions of Stine's stories in a series I called "Creeps". I still have that notebook and it reminds me of the childhood joy I had while reading and writing.

Question 2: How have your past experiences influenced you as a writer?

I think writing about my past experiences has been somewhat cathartic but also a wonderful chance to discover things and learn more about what I've experienced over the years. Putting oneself through honest reflection, whether in writing or in some other capacity, has enormous benefit and I think I've leaned into that as a writer.

Question 3: What have you written that you're the most proud of?

The first memoir essay I had published was in 433 Mag titled "Daily Rounds" and it remains the piece of which I'm most proud. It discusses how I tried to process raising a young child on a boarding school campus in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, which had obviously and completely changed the landscape of the school community. It's a deeply personal piece, too.

Question 4: What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you? 

Great question! The term doesn't connect with me in a sense that I currently teach Creative Writing to high school students, and many of them often grumble about not knowing what to write about. To me, the term writer's block is often rooted shame in that writers feel like them and their stories are either too weird or too boring to be understood. If you write about what you know, if you write honestly, and if you give yourself the freedom to write about whatever comes to mind, I don't think you'll ever have writer's block.

 

Also, I think this term relates to the ways in which procrastination works. Where you write and when doesn't matter so much to me in that I've done the majority of my writing in a plethora of spaces; a designated office-space, which I had furnished from the spare bedroom in my apartment when I was remote teaching during the pandemic, didn't make me write any more or any less. If we all waited for the perfect time and place to write, we'd never get anything done. In fact, as I type this, I'm on a bus headed to Newton, Massachusetts with the Kents Hill School Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Team, for which I am the assistant coach, and I feel totally comfortable completing this written interview within this setting.

Question 5: When did you first call yourself a writer? 

When I was working on my B.F.A. in Creative Writing is when I first adopted the label. However, I didn't take that label seriously until I had a few things published.

Question 6: What is your writing process like? Are you more of a plotter or a pantser?

I think character is the heart of every narrative so I always start there, even when writing poetry. I have found that planning out a storyline ahead of time actually stifles my writing process because it takes the discovery out of learning something about the characters. Honestly, I admire those who can sort out their plots ahead of time; it seems that could save me a lot of time in my own writing.

Question 7: If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose?

Probably Stephen King. I've lived in Maine for most of my adult life, so the settings of many of his stories connect with me. I also use excerpts of King's book "On Writing" in my teaching, so I think I'd like to pick his brain a bit.

Question 8: What is your kryptonite as a writer?

I love to tinker with my words and make adjustments but I sometimes lose interest in revision which leads me to writing something new. I probably have 40-50 unfinished stories, essays, poems that will likely stay that way, at least, until I can find time to force myself to revise.

Question 9: Do you play music while you write — and, if so, what’s your favorite?

I can't do it. I like white noise or ambient noise but no music. I find it distracting.

Question 10: What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

I've got two:

 

"Write literally. Read literally. Pay attention." I believe this comes from Janet Burroway and although it sounds so simple, I think each maxim is so important. Good storytelling and good writing is about clarity and if you can approach each story, poem, essay as both a reader and as a writer with those ideas at the forefront, I think they allow you to be better in both capacities. For example, my creative writing students often lament about the difficulties of reading and writing poetry, but ultimately, reading and writing poetry is about clarity and about making literal meld with the imaginative in a way that allows the reader to experience something genuine. Ultimately, it's about reading the words literally and as they appear in front of you on the page.

 

"You can't be the hero of your own story." I love this advice when writing memoir. No one likes stories about characters who do nothing wrong, or don't have any flaws, or get everything they want. It's not a reflection of real life because there's no conflict. Characters have to be human and humans make mistakes; characters are often more relatable in their flaws than their successes.

Candice Kelsey

I'm Candice Kelsey, and I am a Cincinnati native who spent the past 30 years in Los Angeles, California. I currently live in Augusta, Georgia, with my husband, three teenagers, five cats, a dog, and a snake. I'm mildly obsessed with solving the Hunt a Killer games when I'm not advocating for animal rights.

Question 1: What inspired you to start writing?

I'm an observer. I watch and think. I also read voraciously. But language -- words -- consume my thoughts more than story. I've always been drawn to etymology, linguistics, the plasticity of meanings. Crafting a piece of writing is like running around the world's biggest and best playground for me.

Question 2: How have your past experiences influenced you as a writer?

Inhabiting a female body affords a neverending supply of experiences. I pull from the fat phobic messages I heard as a young person. I pull from the fears cis men have projected upon my manner of dress. I pull from the primitive ideas religion has thrust upon how I vote. And I pull from the ways other women in my life have been shaped by similar experiences.

Question 3: What have you written that you're the most proud of?

Recently I traveled to my father's funeral. I wrote this poem about my experience: "No Sharp Edges"

Question 4: What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you? 

This phrase is empowering. I focus on the first word -- writer. Considering myself a writer has been a long process and one I value tremendously. If feeling unable to write for a short time is the tax I have to pay in order to write most of the time, I'm in!

Question 5: When did you first call yourself a writer? 

It was easy to call myself a writer. To be called something doesn't mean you are that thing. There's a reason why Melville's opening line of Moby-Dick is so memorable. For me, the moment I acknowledged being a writer is the most significant. Once I realized the first wave of published pieces was not a fluke and that my creative output would not simply stop, I realized I am a writer.

Question 6: What is your writing process like? Are you more of a plotter or a pantser?

I'm a hybrid -- a plontser, I suppose! How I craft a poem varies with each one. Sometimes I spend days or even weeks thinking about an image, a turn of phrase, or a concept. Sometimes I look out the window and know exactly what to write. Sometimes I take a poem from five years ago, one that never really became what it wanted to become, and help it emerge. The one constant is that my process includes an undeniable urge to form the poem.

Question 7: If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose?

Linda Pastan without question.

Question 8: What is your kryptonite as a writer?

When I have too many moving parts or dueling ideas, I shut down. I have to be able to focus and not allow my mind to tendril away from the poem at hand.

Question 9: Do you play music while you write — and, if so, what’s your favorite?

Anything Puccini!

Question 10: What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

Never ignore an idea. Write it down immediately or it will disappear.

Allison Renner

I'm Allison, living in Memphis and spending time reading, writing, and taking photos.

Question 1: What inspired you to start writing?

I read all the time as a kid. We went to the library every Saturday and I'd get a stack of books. I loved escaping into different worlds and wanted to try it myself. I've always enjoyed using my imagination---when I was a kid, my bedroom was my "apartment" and my bike was a horse and so on. I love to space out and wonder about things, so it seemed natural to start writing it down. I had a briefcase (yes, really!) full of marble notebooks when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade, with stories started every few pages. I never finished a story until I was in college writing workshops.

Question 2: How have your past experiences influenced you as a writer?

Many of my stories start with a memory of something that's happened to me. That's the kernel of the work, and then I ask, "What if? And then what if?" until it's fiction.

Question 3: What have you written that you're the most proud of? 

Besides "The Man Who Would" in Livina Press Issue 1, I'm incredibly proud of "Witches Do That Sometimes" published in MicroLit Almanac. There's something about that piece that feels magical to me, a movie stripped down to three crucial scenes.

Question 4: When did you first call yourself a writer? 

I still struggle to call myself a writer, and my day job is literally being a writer! I always feel like I need to qualify it by saying, "Oh, well I write content for companies," or "I write flash fiction in my spare time," like I can't yet use WRITER as a central part of my identity, even though that's how I feel.

Question 5: What is your writing process like? Are you more of a plotter or a pantser?

Definitely a pantser! I love the idea of plotting but there's something exciting about letting the story go in unexpected directions. Upon revision, I might use some structure, but the freedom of the first draft is exhilarating.

Question 6: Do you play music while you write — and, if so, what’s your favorite?

Yes! I always have music playing when I'm home. I don't have a favorite, it really depends on my mood that day. Sometimes I just need the general vibe of a song, while other times the lyrics inspire me to write something.

Question 7: Are there any books or authors that inspired you to become a writer?

I was obsessed with Beverly Cleary, Lois Lowry, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, and Ann M. Martin as a kid. I read Ramona, Anastasia, Alice, and BSC books over and over, and wrote letters to the authors (and got a reply from Martin!). I loved getting glimpses into the lives of girls who were so much like me yet so different. I wanted to write books like theirs, books girls could relate to and escape into.

Question 8: What do the words “literary success” mean to you? How do you picture it?

I used to think having a book out in the world would mean I had it made. But that happened and I thought, "Well, that's an informational book, so that's different than fiction." Then I released a fiction chapbook, and now am like, "What's next?" I think my definition of literary success has shifted since I was in college dreaming about having bestsellers out there with my name on them. I don't want fame, I just want to continually write, publish, and push my boundaries to try new things. I think if I keep creating, I'll feel successful.

Question 9: Who has been the biggest supporter of your writing? 

My parents are completely amazing. When I was in college I'd print copies of my short stories for them to read and they'd give me feedback and encouragement. My dad still has them on his bookshelf! He wrote notes in the margins. Now with most of my work published online, he saves the site as a PDF in a folder on his computer. I'm a single parent and they take my kid to give me time to focus on creative writing - I don't know when I'd ever manage to write without them!

Question 10: How many books have you written and which is your favorite?

I've written two and love them both for different reasons. My first is an informational book for librarians (https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781538116913/Library-Volunteers-A-Practical-Guide-for-Librarians). It's a guidebook for using volunteers in the library and means a lot to me because I've volunteered a lot throughout my life and always loved libraries. It was also my first major publishing experience, so I learned a lot. My second book is a flash fiction chapbook (https://www.amazon.com/Wont-Your-Side-Allison-Renner/dp/B0BB61Z4B4/). Since it's creative work, it was different to write and compile compared to the informational book and I feel like it shows more of who I am, so it probably counts as my favorite. I had total control over the cover design (using my own photograph) and the publisher (Alien Buddha Press) really promotes authors and establishes a community, so that was a wonderful experience since writing is typically so solitary.

Daniel Wartham

My name is Daniel, I'm from the great state of North Carolina, and I love gardening, baking, cooking, and writing (of course).

Question 1: What inspired you to start writing?

My grandmother was a librarian. Which naturally led to my reading anything and everything. And my mother read to me as much as she could. Nearly every single day. And my father always laughed at my antics and stories, so I finally wrote them down. Then at the turn of the social media age, I posted them online and was met with around 1.2k followers. Now, I don't write for anyone else.

Question 2: How have your past experiences influenced you as a writer?

What can I say other that I'm a romantic? Life and everything in it from the sunset to the walks with friends should be memorialized in something. That being said, while I hate writing dialogue, I've found myself drawn to writing about people in my life. There is nothing sadder than thinking of not being etched into black and white.

Question 3: What have you written that you're the most proud of?

I'm particularly fond of The Beach Rental in issue 1 of Livina Press. I'm also fond of "Sputtered and Died" in SCHUYLKILL VALLEY JOURNAL ONLINE.

Question 4: What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you? 

It means not touching anything for weeks and then writing for a week straight in isolation. Then touching nothing for weeks again. It's a particularly vicious cycle that I haven't tamed.

Question 5: When did you first call yourself a writer? 

I can't say I ever do. Unless I want to impress someone who asks what I can do with an English degree.

Question 6: What is your writing process like? Are you more of a plotter or a pantser?

Panster all the way. If you plan it out, it loses it's charm. You must sit down and write it all in one shot. If I return, it all crumbles and everything is lost. You must ask yourself, will the center hold if poked?

Question 7: If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose?

Living or dead? Living: Brooks Shropshire. Dead: Kerouac. Or Ginsberg. Or Wolfe. Or O'Connor. Or Faulkner. Or Yeats. Or Pynchon. Or...

Question 8: What is your kryptonite as a writer?

Writing consistently. Which ironically, is my best way to write. I tend to fall in and out of love with it all.

Question 9: Do you play music while you write — and, if so, what’s your favorite?

I used to listen to quite a lot of jazz and still do. In recency, sea shanties. Something low and deep and that can reverberate through the skull. Not a lot of words.

Question 10: What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

One day. One week. One year. One life.

 

It all adds up.

Muhammed Olowonjoyin

My name is Muhammed Olowonjoyin, and I write from the North Central region of Nigeria. In my free time, I enjoy scrolling the internet/social media with the amusement that humans have strangely diverse lines of thoughts.

Question 1: What inspired you to start writing?

The first time I tried out poetry was in 2018 after I'd listened to a friend read his poems. But the poem I wrote was an absolute failure because I neither knew what poetry was about, nor had I ever sat in a Literature class. And that was that.

 

But later, in 2020/2021, I felt that all the torrent of the world, my country, my race, and in fact, my body, needed to be poured somewhere. And since I never really had anything I comforted myself with, writing, I felt, should be a good way in an attempt to find answers and at least, a home—metaphoric or not.

 

So, it's safe to say it's the search that's inspired me to start writing, and I'm not sure if I'm close to what I beseech.

Question 2: How have your past experiences influenced you as a writer?

Of course. As earlier, growing in a country like my country and experiencing all the upheavals, the differences, alongside a wavering mental health, is enough to reflect in ones writing. As most writers will say that it's what you perceive and experience that you'll write about. I write about my experiences more.

Question 3: What have you written that you're the most proud of?

I think it should be my piece about the reflection of boys my story and their relationship with love. The poem was published in Brittle Paper last year and I think it captured what I was trying to say well: brittlepaper.com/2022/10/wuthering-muhammed-olowonjoyin-poetry.

Question 4: What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you? 

Personally, I've been in situations where writing doesn't come easy — not because I didn't want to write but because I felt I'd exhausted every infinitesimal song I have in my chest. So, I think the “writer’s block” doesn't exactly picture what it was supposed to be; I think “Idea Block” works better, and every writer I've met experiences that.

Question 5: If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose?

I would definitely choose Ocean Vuong without thinking about it. [Laughs.]

 

I believe reading his works has had a great influence in my writing. I love how he creates magic so much it looks like he could do it all day. Seeing his interviews, he talks just as good as he writes, and I believe spending a day with him, to discuss his career and writing, should be fun.

Question 6: What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

I started writing as a complete noob to the art, which means I went through a few struggles trying to get ideas and advices from people about the art of poetry and writing. The most valuable one I got should be to always write what is true to me!

 

Honorable mentions will have: reading the piece aloud a couple of times; aiming for clarity; and being patient with the art.

Question 7: What do you think is the best way to improve writing skills?

I believe best way to improve writing skills is to read a lot of works from established and emerged writers, then making sure to write a lot, too. Which makes it seem like feeding the idea bank with [good] writing, then withdrawing from it to write. This, has helped me well.

 

There are other ways to improve writing skills too, like attending workshops, listening to interviews and attending literary events.

Question 8: What do the words “literary success” mean to you? How do you picture it?

Literary success is subjective, and that's why I love the specificity of the question. [laughs.]

 

Some people might take literary success to be winning prizes, publishing books, Novel prizes or even making money.

 

To me, literary success is when I can bravely look at what my writing has brought to me in terms of achievements, and what it has influenced without having a doubt about my honesty. It's the attainment of honesty, both with myself and whatever I write about. Then, I can look back at my achievements and be proud.

 

Everything that comes after that, like fame or wealth, is secondary.

Question 9: Who has been the biggest supporter of your writing? 

I cannot specifically mention one person. I believe Abdulkareem Abdulkareem came in when I needed direction the most for my poetry. He's always there to give every little advices that matter.

 

Mahbūbat Salahudeen has been a propeller to my growth in writing too—always supportive. Oluwafikunayomi Odusola gives the best moral support and beautiful encouragements. Mathew Daniel, too. And the Collective I belong to, TPC, has astounding people.

Question 10: If you had to describe yourself in just three words, what would those be?

Inquisitive, Interesting and Handsome.

Muhammed Olowonjoyin, TPC III, studies Biochemistry at the University of Ilorin. He was third runner-up in the Nigerian Students Poetry Prize (2022) and was named Honorable Mention in the Kreative Diadem Poetry Contest (2022). His poems have been published or forthcoming in Stanchion, Quarter After Eight, Brittle Paper, The Bitchin' Kitsch, Aôthen Magazine, Livina Press, The Shallow Tales Review, Acropolis Journal, The Decadent Review, and elsewhere. He reads poetry for The Dodge Magazine and tweets @APerSe_.

Ace Boggess

Ace Boggess of Charleston, West Virginia.

Question 1: How have your past experiences influenced you as a writer?

My second book, The Prisoners, was written entirely in prison, with most of the poems published in journals during that time. I received the acceptance letter for the book on the day I made it out. I hope that it's not the best thing I ever write, but it's probably the most important. I proved something to myself in writing it and selling it in spite of my circumstances.

You can find Ace's book The Prisoners on Amazon here.

Question 2: What have you written that you're the most proud of?

Aside from The Prisoners, probably my novel A Song Without a Melody, which I wrote in the 90s and finally found a publisher for in 2016. It many ways, it was as intimate to write as The Prisoners and captured my experiences at that point in time.

You can find A song Without a Melody on Amazon here.

Question 3: What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you? 

It's someone else's god. I don't believe in it.

Question 4: When did you first call yourself a writer? 

I was in law school in '96, the year I wrote A Song Without a Melody. I had been through some things and wasn't sure what the future held for me. A lot of my poetry was starting to get published in zines and on the "new" internet. I had already written three other novels that weren't very good. Then I found an agent for Song. I had been a writer all along, but I really embraced the role at that point. I believed things were going to be great from then on. Wow, what a mistake that was.

Question 5: What is your writing process like? Are you more of a plotter or a pantser?

I've done both. I prefer the latter, though. I write everything longhand in little journals, then do the revising during the typing phase. I submit everything. If it gets rejected, I edit it and send it back out. I repeat that process, tightening and tightening until the poem either is perfect or it breaks.

Question 6: If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose?

Christopher Moore. He just seems like so much fun.

Question 7: What is your kryptonite as a writer?

Self-doubt, social anxiety, imposter syndrome. I'd make a pretty flimsy superhero.

Question 8: What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

A journalism professor in the early 90s told me, "Great writers offend all their friends and family because they can't help but tell the truth."

Question 9: What do the words “literary success” mean to you? How do you picture it?

Earning money would be nice. Barring that, I wouldn't mind being in Best American anything.

K.T. Mills

K.T. Mills lives in Washington DC.

Question 1: What have you written that you're the most proud of?

At the moment I'm most proud of this small portfolio, published last year in Mud Season Review.

Question 2: What is your writing process like? Are you more of a plotter or a pantser?

I don't follow one process. Sometimes I write something stream of consciousness and then go back and refine it, other times I have a concept that I know I want to write about and start with an outline of a poem, other times I start with a few pieces of language or a line and build outwards.

Question 3: What is your kryptonite as a writer?

Generally that I'm simply too busy. I feel fortunate that I rarely sit down to write and am unable to do so—instead I have the problem that I just can't set aside the time. That being said, the times in my life when I've been the most creatively prolific have been the times when I've been most professionally stifled, and therefore turn to writing for a sense of fulfillment. Ideally, I will one day I will be able to do both.

Question 4: What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

This wasn't inherently about writing, but it was given to me by a writing instructor, so I think it follows. Basically, I said something pejorative about my own taste in literature and he said I should never undercut myself when engaging with the things that I love. I've tried to apply that throughout my life, but especially to writing.

Question 5: What do you think is the best way to improve writing skills?

Everyone says this, but reading ultimately.

Question 6: What are your favorite blogs or websites for writers? 

The Women On Writing newsletter is great. I'm conducting an interview with a lit mag EIC for an upcoming issue of their newsletter, so stay tuned.

Question 7: What do the words “literary success” mean to you? How do you picture it?

I would love to just keep getting better. I can reflect on my work over the past five years and see how I've matured as a writer, and I'd like to be able to do that in another five years.

Question 8: Who has been the biggest supporter of your writing? 

My friend Natalie, who is herself an excellent writer.

Alice Wilson

Hello! My name is Alice. I live in Yorkshire in the UK and am currently spending my free time setting up a podcast called The Digital Inkwell which looks at the intersections of web3, AI, and writing.

Question 1: What inspired you to start writing?

Hm. I think I have felt the desire to write like an appetite for food or water for as long as I can remember myself. I don't know if it makes sense for me to say that I am 'inspired' to write, more that I feel wrong when I don't do it and something closer to right when I do do it.

Question 2: What have you written that you're the most proud of?

I think my flash fiction "The Job Centre." It was first published in The Apple Valley review and was one of my first ever accepted pieces in a literary magazine. It went on to get nominated for the Pushcart Prize and was also selected for the Sonder Press Best Short Fiction anthology in 2022.

Question 3: What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you?

Writer's block means fear. More specifically, it means fear of failing to meet expectations. The expectations can be my own or those of others.

 

I can always write, but I can't always write something that I am proud of or that feels like the writing I 'should' be doing. I feel the hanging axe of writer's block most often in my academic work because academia has very narrowly defined parameters of what constitutes good and publishable writing. I have become less and less interested in academic writing over the years as a result of this.

 

Without expectation and the fear that accompanies it, there is no writers block.

Question 4: When did you first call yourself a writer? 

I think once I started selling work as a journalist in 2020. It's a shame that selling writing for money in the marketplace was the defining factor that signalled to me in my own head that I was somehow now more 'real' or legitimate as a writer.

 

Now I don't really work as a journalist anymore but still very much consider myself as a writer, thanks in part to glorious magical literary magazines like Livina accepting my work.

Question 5: What is your writing process like? Are you more of a plotter or a pantser?

I am all pants. It is one of my most chaotic and unlikable qualities. I refuse to change, against my own better judgement and the sage recommendations of my friends.

Question 6: If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose?

Cory Doctorow. The most resplendent, heartbreaking, honest sci-fi writer I have encountered. I hate the world's he writes and I love the people in them.

Question 7: Do you play music while you write — and, if so, what’s your favorite?

I am a silent writer. I suspect that it's because I used to sing in a blues/jazz band that I find music so absorbing; I can't do anything that requires my thoughts and attention when music is playing. The beat just takes me over. I'm like Baloo the Bear.

Question 8: What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

Pretty much everything that Julia cameron of The Artist's Way has ever said about writing is the most valuable piece of advice I have ever been given about writing.

Question 9: What do you think is the best way to improve writing skills?

This is tremendously unoriginal but I think that is for a reason; nothing else improves your writing as much as writing. Write rubbish. Write embarrassing, sloppy bilge. Write cringey, too-earnest love letters about your best friend. Write complaints to the editor. Write a haiku about earthworms and stick it the back of a bus seat. Write.

Question 10: Who has been the biggest supporter of your writing? 

My little sister is my biggest cheerleader in all things. She is my constant supporter and always has words of encouragement and praise for me. I owe her a lot.

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