I’m sporadic (at best) at updating my website . And yet here I am. This is because my friend Jane Silcott, author of Everything Rustles (a fabulous essay collection I’ll tell you more about at the end of this page) tagged me in this game of writer tag. The idea is to use our websites to help each other spread the word about our writing. First I’ll answer some questions about my book and then point you towards writers I admire and think you’ll want to know about.
Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing
1. What is the working title of your book?
As I’m very superstitious about talking about work in progress, I’m going to cheat a little here and pretend that the book that’s just been published (Ellipses, Signature Editions) is my “next big thing.” The title changed numerous times over the writing of the collection, and finally ended with this nod to the idea of gaps in literature (and history). I’m always interested in the things that aren’t said, and the voices that have been traditionally silenced or ignored. These voices have historically been female.
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
I didn’t know I was writing a collection until some time after it was actually finished. Both my grandmothers passed away, and I was writing through the grief of their deaths. Then I had my daughter, and I was writing through the startling ways that this experience changed me. I was scribbling poems about women I was intrigued by: Sylvia Plath, Agatha Christie, Barbara Newhall Follett. Years passed. And I do mean years (my last collection came out in 2008). I was feeling creatively stunted, until I looked back at these scribbles about sorrow and joy and reimagining other lives, and realized I had a collection. The subconscious is a funny thing: I’d been writing about women and the choices they make, specifically about women who leave or love their children, all along.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Poetry. Contemporary. Probably somewhere, in some bookstore, it’s called Women’s Poetry.
4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
The idea of a movie from a poetry collection makes my head swoon. Fragmented scenes of light? Mothers leaving footprints in snow? I can’t imagine this ever happening, but one can hope.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
The poems in Ellipses are extractions, explorations, moments of alternate life experience that are so often left to the gaps of the historical record.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It was published by Signature Editions. I have an agent, but she does not deal with poetry.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
My maternal grandmother died in 2005, and the book was published in 2014. So (math!) nine long years. Nine!
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Poetry collections that explore themes of motherhood, or explore the female voice. Specifically:
Glossolalia by Marita Dachsel
1996 by Sarah Peters
Notes on Arrival and Departure by Rachel Rose
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The deaths of both my grandmothers, in 2005 and 2008 respectively, and the birth of my daughter. These were life-changing events that made me reconsider what I knew about the world, and the way in which we pass down our own stories and histories.
10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
There are poems that explore famous figures in history–Agatha Christie, Sylvia Plath, Suzanne Valadon–as well as some not-so-famous figures, including the models who posed for Toulouse-Lautrec and EJ Bellocq. I was very interested in imagining their voices and their experiences.
Include the link to who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.
Jane Silcott. She tagged me for this post, but beyond that, she is a dear friend and one of my trusted first readers, as well as an incredibly talented writer. Buy her book.
Jen Sookfong Lee. Another great friend and first reader. Her work is witty, and dark, and engaging.
Marita Dachsel. Author of Glossolalia, a gorgeous book exploring the alternate female voices of the wives of Joseph Smith.
Rachel Rose. Because Notes on Arrival and Departure made me look at pregnancy and motherhood in a new way.
Laisha Rosnau. Because I recently finished her collection, Pluck, and some of her images have remained with me.
Sara Peters. Because 1996 was one of the best poetry collections I’ve read in a long time.
Kerry Clare. Because she offers excellent book reviews on her blog.