Some writers that I know are at times so unsure of whether a story is theirs to tell that they will shelve a project for years at a time, waiting for some kind of permission to be granted, or for forgiveness, or for a death.
If you’re anything like me (and lucky for you if you’re not) then you’ve spent most of the last week wallowing your way from one shot glass to another and brushing your teeth with the cuff of your old college sweatshirt
Have you ever found yourself looking at the heteronormative sausage-fest that is the Nobel Prize lineup and said, “I wonder if the hoity-toity Swedish Academy will ever give the Literature Nobel to a genre-bending disabled lesbian children’s book author?” Funny you should ask
First, let’s you and me get in my time machine. . . . Suddenly we are in a world in which the Mexican-American border is being nationally debated, the Mexican-American people are being treated as second-class citizens—are punished for speaking Spanish, for teaching Mexican-American history and culture.
During my first week of college, at the University of Iowa, several of us students were playing cards in my dorm room, when, unrelated to the game or to the conversation, one of the other freshmen asked me, “What are you?”
Some call it Dick Lit, others call it Lad Lit, but many male authors reject both of these genre categories as being reductionist, inaccurate, and for unfairly lumping disparate novels into a single arbitrary category. How can gender be a genre, they ask
A band, made up of eight young Swedes playing steel drums, had set up just outside the bookshop where I work. I didn’t step out of the shop to watch them until, almost without realizing it, I was singing along.
We were discussing the character of teenage girl in a fantasy novel. “I like that the girl is not what you expect,” said one writer, “You expect girls to be sweet and innocent, but she’s strong and takes action,” he said. Huh, I thought. Do we expect girls to...
A writer and I were on the sunny plaza outside the Nobel Museum in central Stockholm and she was telling me about an erotic parody project she’d collaborated on. The project was called Fifty Shelves of Grey and involved a dozen or so British authors doing erotic rewrites of...
Four of us writers were critiquing each other’s novellas which all happened to have female protagonists. Three of the protagonists were victims of sexual assault, which then caused these characters to suddenly and completely change. One of those protagonists became mentally unbalanced and faded away, another was rescued by...
Fifteen of us were watching Colin Farrell talking fast and sweet at a woman who communicated almost entirely by lowering her head, raising her eyes, and simpering. This was a few months ago and I was in a playwriting seminar with a well-known playwright that I had never heard...
I’ve been thinking a lot about Irene Adler, you know, “the woman” from Sherlock Holmes. You see, I’ve been looking for good bad women in short stories. Murderers, criminals, drug dealers and scoundrels of all types. I’m on a quest, really, for the kinds of women that take active...
Anyone can win it. Especially me.
I’ve been searching for one word to describe the texture of light that comes through antique windows.
I travel for work. Actually, my husband travels for work and sometimes I go with him — one of the main reasons we got married was because we like spending time together. The other reasons are more complicated and require the kinds compromises that are rarely rewarded with air-miles.
Every time I tell this story I say it was a walrus and my husband interrupts and says it wasn’t a walrus, because there are no walruses in Wales.
It was the last summer before the Tunisian revolution and the first summer after I got married - and I was traveling across Tunisia next to a Jesuit priest. The priest and I had become good friends because he is a devout man from the Congo and I come from a long line of irreverent cowboys.
Our tour group skipped across the country, landing in beautiful hotels with Islamic courtyards and Mediterranean tiles - charming places full of Germans. After dinner the priest and I would sit in the unlit courtyards and discuss philosophy and writing and the philosophy of writing. When we heard the evening call to prayer we stopped talking. Sometimes we didn't say anything again for a long time.
By the time we got to Hammamet I had started writing a short story. It was the first piece of fiction I had written in years and I spent a long time on the balcony of my hotel room, writing and listening to the ecstatic laughs of German children crashing down the hotel's water slide.
Over the next year I edited that story several times, making small, important, pedantic, and meaningless changes - then I submitted it to The Kenyon Review's Short Fiction Contest.
I recommend Tunisia in the early summer - but if you go, remember to bring a light jacket. It can be quite windy.
The first round of LDM is competitive literature on stage, the second round is usually some kind of party game that they pretend is about literature--but is actually about charades, or dancing, or throwing something at something else. I am always up for competitive literature, but have spent my life avoiding party games. Except for whack the piñata. Oh man, I love me some piñata.
After I won, they gave me a very fancy medal to wear and we stayed out late talking about what makes good literature, great European cities, and a strong marriage.