Today we are pleased to feature author William Auten as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, William discusses the role of memory and detail in his short story, “Something in the Way.”
William states that he wrote “Something in the Way” as “a way to connect unsettling personal and cultural events.” The story, he says, “combines fact and fiction,” and “blurs imagined scenarios with real-life experiences.” He declares that these memories can be “broad and abstract enough to point to their universal application,” while, in the confines of the story, be susceptible to “amplifying, editing, or renovating.”
William emphasizes that people share “similar traits, feelings, and reactions,” and that “mundane details” in a story can heighten the reader’s empathetic response. However, he says, these “mundane details have to play off of what the piece aims for; its overall effect.” He concludes by stating that “‘Something in the Way’ is an act of fiction, even the parts that I didn’t have to make up.”
You can read William’s story, “Something in the Way,” in Issue 19 of Superstition Review.
Today we are pleased to feature author Melissa Olson-Petrie as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, Melissa discusses the inspiration behind her short story, “To Walk Chalk.”
As Melissa reflects on the story, she says that she’s “surprised by how much family lore has been an inspiration.” To her, she says, “the biggest inspiration was the setting: a Victorian house my great-great-grandfather built in 1898, in a Wisconsin town known for its tobacco farming.” She describes an experience that she had as a twelve-year-old, where she was told that “they embalmed people in the basement,” and how it “gave me a Gothic twist on a seemingly typical Victorian home.”
In addition, Melissa explains the meaning behind the phrase “To walk chalk,” and its relationship to field sobriety tests. She says that the phrase “seemed to resonate with the struggles and the whiskey consumption of the main character.” She describes the police scanner that her grandfather would periodically use to “see what was happening across town,” and how this true-to-life detail “took on new significance” in the story. In the end, she says, “every once in a while” as she writes stories, details like these will “come back, like an unearthed gemstone.”
You can read Melissa’s story, “To Walk Chalk,” in Issue 21 of Superstition Review.
Today we are pleased to feature author Kelly Hill as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, Kelly discusses two books she has recently read that both inspire and enlighten her: Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick, by Maya Dusenbery, and We Show What We Have Learned & Other Stories, by Clare Beams.
Kelly states that Dusenbery’s book is interesting because it “looks at the systemic sexism that is present in the medical condition.” In the book, Kelly continues, Dusenbery interviews several woman who have been medically misdiagnosed and were told, upon visiting the doctor, that their physical symptoms were simply due to stress. In addition, Kelly discusses Dusenbery’s approach to medical research, showing how, until recently, such research was practically “only done on men,” and the repercussions this can contain for women’s health.
Kelly’s discussion of the second book, We Show What We Have Learned & Other Stories, focuses on Beams’ ability to craft beautiful descriptions of characters. Kelly quotes a passage from one of Beams’ stories, “World’s End,” and admires the high degree of authorial skill that can be seen in various descriptive passages. Kelly concludes by thanking all listeners of her podcast, expressing her hope that “you’re working on a project that inspires you, and one that you’re happy to return to every day.”
You can read Kelly’s story, “The Neighbor,” in Issue 14 of Superstition Review.
Today we are pleased to feature author Pete Stevens as our Authors Talk series contributor. In the podcast, Pete discusses the process of creating the short story “Smoked Fish,” and how, as he states, “This wasn’t the story I [originally] intended to write.”
Originally, Pete says, “Smoked Fish” was a story about “this couple, told through the perspective of “a guy…who [isn’t] really wanting to or ready to get married.” However, as Pete says, “we know as writers and as readers that some of the best results are the results that are unexpected,” so he instead decided to explore the idea of a father-son dynamic, and the “unique conflicts and challenges that would come from that relationship.”
Eventually, Pete states, “it’s the son who understands that he…can mature and progress past his own father,” which leads to his “appreciating all that his father has done for him.” “Even though his father [has set] this groundwork,” Pete emphasizes, “the son, now, is becoming a man.”
You can read Pete’s story, “Smoked Fish,” in Issue 21 of Superstition Review.
Today we are pleased to feature author Timothy Reilly as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, Timothy discusses the inspiration behind his short story, “The Task at Hand,” calling it a “nod to the old Grail romances.”
Timothy states that “‘The Task at Hand’ is not a ‘Baby Boomer’ story,” even though it concerns a protagonist from that generation. Instead, he says, it is “an internal quest… framed within a common 21st-century excursion.” During that quest the protagonist “deals with the challenges of age and memory,” as well as “the fickleness of pop culture.”
Timothy, hearkening back to his lifelong interest in Grail legends, declares that “myths are about truth, not facts.” He ends by referencing a quote from C.S Lewis, saying that when he realized this fact and “was old enough to read fairy tales again,” he began to write short stories of his own.
You can read Timothy’s story, “The Task at Hand,” in Issue 16 of Superstition Review.
Today we are pleased to feature author Deborah Bogen as our Authors Talk series contributor. The topic of Deborah’s podcast, as she says, is “prose poems: the how and why of writing them.”
She confesses that after writing three books of “mostly lineated poems,” she took a break from poetry, or as she emphasizes “poetry took a break from me.” She describes her struggle to write a poem, saying that she “tried, but could not do it.” After a time spent writing novels, she states that “a strange thing happened: I was filled, and I do mean filled, with the urge to make new poems.” Due to her time writing in a novelistic style, she declares that she “quite naturally… fell into the world of prose poems.” She had previously enjoyed the style, but now, “the joy…was that I had a form, a box into which I could place… what I was noticing in what we call the world.” She closes by urging fellow poets to “have some fun [with prose poems],” and to “write a bunch.”
You can read Deborah’s poem, “This Poem May Be Read In Any Order,” in Issue 21 of Superstition Review.
Today we are pleased to feature poet Ephraim Scott Sommers as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this brief interview, Ephraim discusses his life as a poet and as a singer/songwriter, and how each endeavor creatively informs the other.
While Ephraim grew up in a musical household, he said that he “didn’t really think about being in a band until I turned 18,” when he formed the group known as Siko with other musically inclined friends. He admits that he originally “was way far behind in his musicianship”, but that through years of dedication and hard work, he was able to “create something…from nothing” and craft many memorable experiences.
Speaking on the interrelationship of poetry and music, Ephraim states that “he came to lyricism and to poetry writing through music.” He elaborates that “what really drew me to poetry at first was the sound of words,” and that this inspired him to “try to tell stories in a musical way” through his pieces. In light of this, he expresses his interest in the lyric tradition of people like Dante and Virgil, who are “singing you a story” through their poetic work.
You can read another interview with Ephraim, “The Funeral Pyre of Poetry,” in Issue 19 of Superstition Review.
Today we are pleased to feature author Bryn Gribben as our Authors Talk series contributor. The topic of Bryn’s podcast is “finding your voice.” She begins by saying that “Everything you do before you find your voice matters,” and, to demonstrate this truth, describes her own journey of discovery as a creative writer and poet.
In the beginning of her college experience, Bryn states that she “was more interested in learning than in creating.” However, after discovering that she “just wasn’t having enough fun,” she began to pursue the creation of poetry. She says that “the feedback I was getting at the time made it seem like I had to choose between two paths: the academic and the creative,” but as she continued to find her literary voice, she realized that she didn’t have to make a choice. She just, as she says, “had to find a different audience.” She emphasizes that nowadays, she is still “pulled constantly between those two modes of being,” the analytical and the creative; for, as she says, “both modes of being engage my best self.”
You can read Bryn’s essay, “Divorce Closet,” in Issue 21 of Superstition Review.
Today we are pleased to feature author Stephen Gibson as our Authors Talk series contributor. In the podcast, Stephen discusses the inspiration behind three of his interrelated poems: “At the Grave of Abigail Smith, Aged 6, at Copp’s Hill Burying Ground in Boston”, “Gravestone Carving at Copp’s Hill Burying Ground in Boston,” and “Gravestone Rubbing at Copp’s Hill Burying Ground in Boston.”
Gibson states that he drew his inspiration for the poems from the headstones he saw at Copp’s Hill “not only as art, but in the way they reflect two different views of mortality.” He goes on to contrast the remoteness of modern-day society when it comes to the subject of death with the societies who created the headstone carvings, which were not only a reminder of death, but an “acknowledgement, or rather, a belief in something after.” He also comments on the modern-day industry of gravestone rubbings, and how, through its focus on preserving headstones as historical artifacts, it emphasizes contemporary society’s “disassociation from death.”
You can read Stephen’s three poems in Issue 20 of Superstition Review.
Today we are pleased to feature author Kaylee Sue Duff as our Authors Talk series contributor. In the podcast, Kaylee discusses the creative process behind two of her flash fiction pieces, “Nothing” and “The Deer,” and the intertwined nature of the stories themselves.
Kaylee states that “Nothing” is one of her favorite pieces that she has written, for it “takes ownership of those feelings that… are terrible and impossible to deal with, and turns them into something that other people can experience as well, something that is really beautiful.” She highlights that the inspiration for “Nothing” stemmed from her own feelings of loneliness and isolation upon moving away to college, which led to her “figuring out a lot about myself and my identity.” She goes on to express that the piece is “more like poetry than I would ever care to admit,” and that, “by writing what… I felt was right, I was able to tap into something that I would never have been able to otherwise.”
You can read Kaylee’s story, “Nothing,” in Issue 20 of Superstition Review.