Jen Knox | CR Stories Interview

Niya C. Sisk interviews author Jen Knox NIYA: Detail, detail, detail. You are a brilliant seductress of story and your weapon is image detail. But you also balance what you weave with intimacy of scene and time. While I don’t want to say, “How do you do this?” I have to ask how do you recall becoming this type of writer stylistically? Or anything at all you’d like to say about this observation? JEN: I often begin a short story or essay by meditating on the day-to-day details of life. This could be as simple as observing a child laughing loudly in the milk aisle at the grocery; smelling sausage, maple syrup and pancakes on a cold morning; or catching glimpse of a particularly insincere smile between two people at a coffee shop. In these moments are the material for complex and vibrant stories. Because my writing begins with detail, I try to sustain the vivid nature of that original image. …Read More

Nathan Alling Long | CR Stories Interview

Niya C. Sisk interviews writer Nathan Alling Long. N.S. Two things that strike me immediately as I read your pieces, “In China” and “Flies,” is your range with unifying elements and stylistic efficiency. “Flies,” for instance, was humorous while not one word too many to convey the twists and turns of action and emotion in that scene. Do you aim to hit us right between the eyes with truth in the subtle crafting of elements or do you just have a very sharp editor’s knife? Nathan: I’m not sure, though I think my writing process is really like everyone else’s, a bit of inspiration on the first draft, and a willingness to go over it with a comb.  I’ve come to believe though that I owe my writing practice largely to being dyslexic. Several writers are, such as my literary hero, Samuel Delany, and Richard Ford, who commented once that the pleasure of this disability was that a sentence always looked …Read More

Rich Larson | CR Stories Interview

Change is often at the heart of what I write and is often on my mind. Can people affect true change, and to what extent? Can people change who they are? Can better beginnings come from bad endings? It’s something I grapple with in my own life and something I know I’ll keep exploring in the future through my writing.

Jackie Davis Martin | CR Stories Interview

 Niya C Sisk, Founder of Curly Red Stories Interviews Jackie Davis Martin, Author and Creative Writing Teacher in San Francisco Ca. N.S.  Right off the bat, I must ask, do you write stage plays? In particular, tragedy? I wasn’t surprised at all to see your reference to Shakespeare in your bio. Jackie:   I’ve never written a stage play unless you consider the play I wrote for my girlfriends in 9th grade.  The characters were the four of us, grown up, with careers, conflicts, and exotic names.  I’m very much interested in drama, though, and attend many plays in the San Francisco area, as well as the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  I like interior monologue and most plays don’t allow it.  Well, Shakespeare does, and a few others. N.S.  While our theme this publication is “Place”… I love how your fictions transport me to places in the heart very quickly while beautifully grounded in physical description. The strength of your work is in …Read More

Beth Bates | CR Stories Interview

NS: Two things get under my skin as I read your work. Design and Insight.Your set up, description, the emotional tension, story arc, character intimacy and design of your narratives is excellent! I even want to say, perfect!  “Change of Plans” stayed with me for two days after I read it. This is a sign, for me, of a writer who ‘delivers’.  My inquiry is about your penchant for intricate psychological prose. Clearly you’ve had some ‘experiences’ in your life. Really, anything you want to say about what you are up to here, I want to hear. Beth Bates: Oh gosh, perfect is a stretch, but thank you for kind words. Any technical feats you see in these stories I attribute to the rigorous instruction I’ve received in the Butler MFA program (with some effort on my part-see question 5). Working as a psychotherapist for seven years is one source of my tendency to focus on painful internal processes. About experiences, they’re all …Read More

Harmony Neal | CR Stories Interview

NS: Your work intrigues me. You tackle the hard stuff in a visceral way while leaving me awed by the beauty of our humanity. What leads your hand as you take us into difficulties like being misunderstood, mute, derailed, shaking through it all, and noting everything beautiful along the way? HN: Um, wow. Errrr. First of all, you have to notice the beauty or you might as well shoot yourself now. As for the rest, I try to capture experience in my genre bending work like “Little Orange Pills,” which is why it necessarily ends up as hybrid work. It’s not a poem or an essay or a story, but it draws from all of those. I guess it’s most like a poem, except I’m too long winded to be a poet. I don’t want to boil it all down: I want to expand it out while using images and cadences that reflect the experience. I suppose I do it …Read More

Matt Stauffer | CR Stories Interview

NS: There is a timelessness to your writing. You span age in human beings in a way that mirrors nature. In ‘Bandon, Oregon’ for example, “His arthritic fingers manipulated the old fish head…”. And you go on and break my heart here, “whose eye stared back at us, as if asking for one last story before bedtime.” Can you talk a little bit about your relationship to nature and aging? Matt: Aging is one of nature’s cruelest tricks. Growing old allows us to become so wealthy, both materially and intellectually, but every day we grow older is one fewer day we have to spend that wealth. One really needs to find some perspective to balance those competing desires: nobody wants to live poor, but we don’t want to die rich, either. I think the solution that comes out of “Bandon, Oregon” is recognizing the value of our elders. They have a huge transfer payment of wisdom to give us, and …Read More

Zachary Fishel | CR Stories Interview

NS: You have this way of encapsulating the world through the eye of the writing (vs. author), which is quite something to pull off. There is a great book called The Object Stares Back where the author considers how the world changes as you give your attention to it. You do this very well in both of your pieces. It’s true flash fiction. Unselfconscious and true to form. Can you let us in on how you see the world, what inspires you to write in such a densely narrative fashion that transforms the reader? Zach: I try to see the world in its subtleties, the ones that stare us in the face most often. I find myself more and more jotting down the way bubbles look in the first cup of coffee after a hangover, rather than focusing on the headache. Those are the things I try to target in my writing. There is always a metaphor, but I think …Read More

Debra Gordon Zaslow | CR Stories Interview

NS: 57 Chevy. Something that fascinates and draws me into your prose is the feeling of being in a richly textured world with hilarious, straight talking characters. Can you say a little about your use of language; visual detail in contrast to the story your characters tell in blunt tones? Debra: I couldn’t have created a more fitting name for our tract subdivision than “Storybook Lane.” I think the details of glossy chrome fins and repetitive floorplans reflect the air of unreality that we breathed every day in that whitewashed “utopia.”  But the sun couldn’t wash out the truth of the families in the houses.  Going back as a writer, though, the memories take on a heightened quality. I wanted to contrast my grandma’s negativity with our updated lives, so the scene with Bonnie on the porch was born. I wish I could say that I plan every detail to create an effect, but I think it’s like painting, you …Read More

Calder Lorenz | CR Stories Interview

NS: You have a knack for endings. Is this something you aim for in your writing? I was especially intrigued by Buffalo Park, fabulous ending for a short fiction piece. • • • The short answer is yes. Definitely. Endings are elusive as all hell but endlessly satisfying once you nail them down. It is what you leave your readers with, your offering. I like writing that leaves you with questions. That literally has you turn the page to find the absence of print. That keeps your mind in motion, immersed with the characters long after it is all said and done. I like endings that do not falsify and contradict the very world they inhabit, like our history books and our social narratives tend to do. Endings can be redeeming or comforting or even happy but they do not work unless they stay true to their framework. I think all too often writers believe that they must save us …Read More

Raphael Cushnir

NS. As an author of applied humanics (sorry, bad habit of making up words) was this book a welcome freedom for the wild, wise Raphael to write in essay, philosophic form? RAPHAEL: Yes! I was able to blend my artistic self with my teacher self, playing more with metaphor, turns of phrase, full circles, and intuitive leaps and bounds rather than having everything follow a more step by step path. NS. Which essay is your favorite and why? Is there one in there titled: Dado? RAPHAEL: Today, right now, I think Fairy Matching is my favorite, maybe because it stars by stepdaughter. NS. What readers often wonder is, how did this author get here, writing book after book, supporting his family as a full time writer. Is there any snippet of this story you share? RAPHAEL: If you took all the working hours, including not just the outlining and writing and rewriting but also the marketing and promotion and just …Read More

Joshua Mohr

NS. How old are you, what is your shoe size and did you battle acne in high school or younger? Just kidding. JOSH: You said “just kidding” about this question, but I’ll happily answer it. I’m 32. My shoe size is 12. And no, I didn’t battle acne, but I did have a late growth spurt, so my freshman year of high school, I was 5’1″ with a size 12 shoe. I looked like I had massive clown feet for my height, something beyond ridiculous, another classification entirely in which teenage boys and girls are sent to occupy planet earth from a distant orb of awkwardness. Plus, I usually had Twix bar stuck in my braces. Rough look, rough times. Thank Christ I finally grew. NS. The title of your book, and a bit about what moved you to write it, and when it will be out. JOSH: The title of my novel is “Some Things that Meant the World …Read More

Lyssa Tall Anolik

NS. I’ve noticed in your writing such acute attention to detail, to the physical world, there is a sensuous quality in your writing. What do you feel pulls you towards this detail, what is evoked for you? LYSSA: I worked as a park ranger and taught environmental education for ten years before I began to write “seriously.” As a naturalist, I learned to acutely observe and notice the smallest details in the physical world–the shapes and venation patterns of leaves and insect wings, the texture of tree bark, animal tracks in mud and snow. This ability seems to have spilled over into the rest of my life. NS. Recently, you injured your right wrist and you can’t type with this hand without a lot of pain. What has left handed writing affected for you? Have you noticed a difference in style or content? LYSSA: Only the words that absolutely must find their way onto the page make it out of …Read More

Ben Garlow

NS:  Do you, or did you have formal training in writing? BG:  No. Well in college my minor was in English. Can’t you tell? NS: What about language inspires you? BG: The first time my mom yelled, “time to eat”, and the most important question in the English language, “how do you like it?” It’s gotten me through many awkward situations. NS: When did you start to write about things that mattered to you? BG: When I learned how to create my hard-ons. That’s to say that I began to write poetry to young women I was interested in. Of course they loved the attention but had no idea what I was trying to say. Then I met a woman who understood, and didn’t laugh. She was my first love, and eternally so. NS: Do you write everyday? BG: That’s like asking me, “do you like pain everyday?” NS: Writing is painful for you? BG: I consider it unkempt activity …Read More