A quick note to announce that American Fiction Volume 14—edited by Bruce Pratt and Pulitzer Freakin’ Prize winner Elizabeth Strout—was released today. I’m thrilled a story of mine, which took second prize in their contest, is included.
The publisher, New Rivers Press, describes it this way:
“Twenty-one new authors evoke the painful and beautiful realities of life. Whether the struggles of a recent immigrant to support his family, a young daughter dealing with her mother’s mental health issues, or the slow decay of a once- sharp mind, this volume showcases the lives of these diverse American writers and characters.”
(Mine is the young daughter dealing with her wack mom—nothing to do with my own mom, by the way. She’s very sensible and almost never goes off her meds.)
Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy and see what worlds my fellow contributors came up with. Sure to be amazing.
First, a big thanks to everyone who chimed in on last week’s blog, and congratulations to author Gigi Amateau, winner of our first-ever Write Despite book giveaway! Gigi was randomly selected to win a free copy of Tara Laskowski’s Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons. Gigi has quite a body of work of her own, and has graciously agreed to do an interview and book giveaway on Write Despite as well. Look for her post in the coming weeks.
Now please welcome author Marjorie Hudson to Write Despite. Marjorie’s fiction and creative nonfiction explore the worlds of outsiders and newcomers, misfits and strangers, in the contemporary and historical South. See her website and her blog about her writing adventures: http://www.marjoriehudson.com
Thanks, Marjorie, for taking the time to chat with us.
1) What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
“Do it your way.” – Emily Herring Wilson. Emily was my editor and mentor for my first book, Searching for Virginia Dare, which was a strange amalgam of history, interview, road trip, memoir, and fiction scene. When I wondered if that kind of strange combination was even allowed, she encouraged me to play. It’s been the best advice, and used it when compiling my story collection too, which includes both contemporary stories and historical fiction.
2) Please tell us your favorite three authors.
I read everybody I can get my hands on, and my favorites change from time to time. But some standbys: Henry James, Alice Munro, and Anne Lamott. I know it’s a strange list.
3) Briefly describe your journey to publication.
I was a shy writer for many years, hiding behind my job as an editor at National Parks Magazine. One day I got up my courage to ask for an assignment, and after that started writing features. When I moved to North Carolina, it was with the goal of doing more creative writing—it was cheaper to live here and I knew I could experiment more while freelancing. I worked at Algonquin books as a copyeditor for a number of years, soaking in the lessons of fiction writing, then started writing my own stories and sending them out. My first story won a small award. I was overly encouraged by that and started sending everywhere. A lucky break got me my first book contract—Emily Wilson called me out of the blue and asked me to write for her, and it turned into a book, Searching for Virginia Dare, now out in a new edition. Meanwhile, I was writing and publishing short stories. I finally collected some stories on the theme of outsiders in the South, that became Accidental Birds of the Carolinas. It took 20 years for me to refine those stories till they were ready, but it was worth the wait, because the collection got national recognition as a Pen Hemingway Honorable Mention.
Just this summer my first book came out in a new edition, Searching for Virginia Dare: On the Trail of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island, and I got to have a dream come true—keeping a book in print for more than ten years, and adding some exciting new material from my continued adventures. I remain obsessed with the mystery of the Lost Colony, and the legends and stories that continue to emerge from that moment in history, and have sought out new clues while traveling to Rome, London, and the Outer Banks in search of deeper understanding of the story of America’s first English child, part of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island.
4) Advice for those now on the road to publication?
Find a writing community, a great teacher, a mentor. Keep the faith. You are the only one who can tell the story your way. You’ll need that writing community while you struggle, and creative work is a struggle, and you’ll want them around too to celebrate with when you publish! No one understands the sweetness of publishing better than another writer.
5) Do you write every day?
I schedule writing in. Some weeks I do other things. My favorite method is to take a month or more and write the same time every day. For longer projects, you must fit them around your life, and your job, to sustain them.
6) What are you writing now?
I’m working on a novel draft. It continues the stories of some of the characters in Accidental Birds.
7) What are you reading now?
I read several books at a time. I’m reading Little Raw Souls, a new story collection by my old writing teacher Steven Schwartz. I’m re-reading The Disobedience of Water, by Sena Jeter Naslund, also a story collection. I just finished In the Garden of Beasts, about the American ambassador in Berlin during Hitler’s rise, by Erik Larson. And I’m reading three incredible novel manuscripts by friends, for my writing group.