Interviews
Five firsts: Rob Roberge on on binge writing, craft, and realistic expectations

Five firsts: Rob Roberge on on binge writing, craft, and realistic expectations

Every month, I interview an author I admire on his literary firsts. April’s featured author is Rob Roberge, author of The Cost of Living, a wild ride of a novel starring Bud Barrett — guitarist of an indie rock band — who goes from reckless days of touring and partying with strangers and hiding his drug addiction to getting sober and confronting the traumas and mistakes of the past. Rob’s most recent book is Liar, a memoir with many similarities to The Cost of Living. He’s also authored three other works of fiction: Working Backwards from the Worst Moment of My Life, More Than They Could Chew, and Drive. In this interview, Rob talks about the vital role played by indie publishers in the literary marketplace, binge writing, and the difference between memoir and fiction drawn from life. Sign up with your email below to be entered to win a copy of The Cost of Living — and to get notified of future interviews! Enter to win! ____ Siel: We have one thing in common as writers: We both have books with Red Hen Press! Yours, a short story collection called Working Backwards From the Worst Moment of My Life, came out […]

Five Firsts: Me on voyeurism, desire, identity

Five Firsts: Me on voyeurism, desire, identity

So usually I post a monthly interview with an author I admire whose book I’m giving away. But since I’m giving away my own Cake Time this month to celebrate its publication, I’ll take this opportunity to link to interviews with me in other places and hope that you won’t think that’s too narcissistic! These are both amazing lit zines that deserve your time and attention. Thank you to the interviewers for featuring me and my work — __ Michelle Ross at Fiction Writers Review: This sensation of watching one’s life from outside the self, like it’s a theatrical performance, is a running theme in your book. And I think it’s a sensation to which we can all relate to some extent or another. Would you talk a little bit about this in terms of your novel as a whole? Why does this topic interest you? Me: …. I think it’s because this sense of watching one’s life from outside the self seems very self-effacing — in a I-cannot-bear-to-be-truly-present-for-this-experience-type manner–yet simultaneously, very self-indulgent — in a I-like-to-spend-my-time-watching-film-clips-of-myself kind of way. It’s both an erasure of the self and an obsession with the self. More at Fiction Writers Review. __ Shilpa Argawal […]

Five firsts: Louise Wareham Leonard on secrets and thinly-veiled memoirs

Five firsts: Louise Wareham Leonard on secrets and thinly-veiled memoirs

Every month, I interview an author I admire on her literary firsts. March’s featured author is Louise Wareham Leonard, author of 52 Men — a thinly veiled memoir written in tiny, flash pieces. Each of the 52 snippets features a guy with whom the narrator had a relationship — some affairs brief, some longer, some intimate, some cruel. The book is sexy as well as scary, tender as well as crude — making for a riveting read. Relatedly, Louise runs 52 Men the Podcast: Women Telling Stories About Men. Each 10-minute episode features one woman writer telling, well, a story about men. My story ran on the podcast earlier this year! In this interview, Louise talks about autobiographical fiction, the shame of secrets — and Milo Yiannopoulos. Sign up with your email below to be entered to win a copy of 52 Men — and to get notified of future interviews! Enter to win! Email Address ____ Siel: I’m curious about the writing process you took to complete this book. The 52 short flash pieces take place over a lifetime. Is this a book you worked on in bits over decades, or within a more focused period of time? Louise: I was living with my […]

Five Firsts: Julia Scheeres on reshaping trauma & exposing injustice through writing

Five Firsts: Julia Scheeres on reshaping trauma & exposing injustice through writing

Every month, I interview an author I admire on her literary firsts. February’s featured author is Julia Scheeres, author of Jesus Land — a searing memoir that tells the story of Julia and her adopted black brother David, both of who were not only taunted by racist peers at school but abused and neglected by their religious, punitive parents at home. As I mentioned before, the book takes a fascinating and disturbingly close look at key social issues that still plague us today: racism, sexual assault, and child abuse carried out in the name of god, both in the quiet secrecy of family homes and the formalized settings of religious institutions. Julia more recently wrote A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Jonestown — another page-turner that tells the story of why close to a thousand people followed a religious leader — despite his descent into alcohol and drug abuse and psychosis — to end up committing “revolutionary suicide” in the 70 (my microreview here). In this interview, Julia talks about why she decided at long last to tell her story, how both nonfiction and fiction can address life’s great questions, and what we must do to fight bigotry and […]

Five Firsts: Clancy Martin on love, lying, and writing sans hangover

Five Firsts: Clancy Martin on love, lying, and writing sans hangover

Every month, I interview an author I admire on his literary firsts. January’s featured author is Clancy Martin, author of two novels including How to Sell, a fast-paced, entertaining tale of deception — both of others and of the self — peppered with philosophical ideas that’ll make you think about life and desire and ambition. Clancy more recently wrote a novel called Bad Sex — also a fantastic read (an excerpt is in Vice). As a professor of philosophy, he’s also authored a number of philosophical books. Unrelatedly, he’s been to jail seven times, once for rolling through a stop sign! In this interview, Clancy talks about how he turned memoir into fiction, how his writing changed after getting sober, and what books of philosophy he recommends for aspiring novelists. Sign up with your email below to be entered to win a copy of How to Sell — and to get notified of future interviews! Enter to win! ____ Siel: One of the things I love most about How to Sell is the deadpan, flat feel of the dialogue. It’s so unique — How did you arrive at this tone? Are there other books and authors that informed or influenced your voice in […]

Five Firsts: Aimee Bender on writing without a plan and eating cake on book tour

Five Firsts: Aimee Bender on writing without a plan and eating cake on book tour

Every month, I interview an author I admire on her literary firsts. December’s featured author is Aimee Bender, author of five books including The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, a short story collection stories unafraid to meld the real with the impossible, the grotesque with the funny, the sacred with the profane. Aimee’s other books are An Invisible Sign of My Own, Willful Creatures, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, and The Color Master. She teaches creative writing at University of Southern California, my grad school alma mater. In this interview Aimee talks about writing without a plan, giving writerly advice, and eating cake on book tour. Sign up with your email below to be entered to win a copy of The Girl in the Flammable Skirt — and to get notified of future interviews! Enter to win! ____ Siel: At a writing conference speech five or so years back, I remember you saying you’d decided to shelve a novel a few hundred pages long because it simply wasn’t working. For those of us who have also shelved writing projects — and may shelve more in the future — Do you have any tips or rituals or practices for setting a […]