Authors Talk: Timothy Reilly

Today we are pleased to welcome Timothy Reilly as our Authors Talk series contributor. Timothy talks about what inspired his story “Nosferatu” and what genre it might fit into.

The story takes its title from Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau’s film adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. That said, the story is not fantasy, nor “so-called magical realism.” Rather, Timothy evokes the vampire myth to put the reader in a particular and strange mindset. Timothy closes by briefly discussing the origins and benefits of this mindset.

You can read and listen to “Nosferatu” in Superstition Review, Issue 19.

Guest Blog Post, Doug Cornett: I Write Because of Flying Saucers

Doug CornettMaybe it was all the Alf I watched, but from the ages of 7 through 12, my greatest ambition was to be abducted by aliens. My teachers were perplexed: how about astronaut, or fireman, or attorney? It’s not technically an ambition if you don’t have any control over it, I was told. Accepting this truth, I tried to put myself in the most abduction-likely situations. This proved difficult, because standing on my roof was dangerous and there were no cornfields near to hang out in. I settled for loitering in my front yard while staring up at the sky. If they weren’t going to abduct me, I at least wanted to have a good look at them. When I failed to realize even this modest goal, I decided to take measures into my own hands; I’d have to invent a UFO sighting.

It was a warm fall night—I must have been 10—when I got my chance. My parents and I were walking the dog around the block when a brightly lit object appeared above us and scuttled across the suburban sky. It was an airplane; I knew it, my parents knew it, even my golden retriever knew it. But this airplane had a flashing green light, which I had never seen before. This slight anomaly was all I needed to build upon. I told my friends at school about it, adding that it was lightning fast and absolutely silent.

“I had the sensation that I was being watched,” I said in a hushed voice. My friend Joey suggested that I was already being followed by Men in Black. I practiced that distant, harried look I’d seen Richard Dreyfuss have in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I filled up a notebook with sketches of the craft, wearing down my emerald colored pencil to a nub.

I cultivated this willful self-deception for almost a week until I saw the same green-lighted plane in the half-light of dusk. Faced with the naked truth, I tossed my notebook in the trash. Since nobody, not even Joey, believed me in the first place, it was time to move on from my fantasy.

Now that I am married and have a job that I truly enjoy, I’d rather witness a UFO from a safe distance than be stolen by one. But the desire to see something incredible is still there, and that is why I write. The potential for the extraordinary to occur amid the ordinary is intriguing, for the same reason that an unopened envelope with your name on it has an undeniable magnetic pull. For me, the recognition and celebration of potential energy is central to the act of writing: the potential for an inert character to lurch into motion, or for a sublime moment to overtake a mundane one.

I’ve come to realize that what’s exciting is not that a UFO will appear in an ordinary Tuesday afternoon sky, but that an ordinary Tuesday sky holds this and infinite other possibilities. Whether or not a flying saucer ever appears is ultimately irrelevant; the act of staring up at the sky is creative, and therefore, important.

Guest Post, Colleen Stinchcombe: Are Short Stories the Future of Publishing?

Enter a commercial bookstore – say, Barnes and Noble – and take a look at the display sections. Likely what you will find are different novel-length books, be it fiction, nonfiction, fantasy, or young adult. Enter the shelves and, if you search a little, you will be able to find collections of short stories by some particularly well-known authors, or maybe an entire section devoted to short-story form. For many amateur writers there is a sense that one starts writing short stories only to better understand the structure of a story, but “real writing,” successful writing, involves novels. Short stories are a way of getting one’s name known to better sell a novel later, or a way of generating ideas and themes that will eventually show up in a later novel.

This is not to say that short stories are not an often-used form, but rather that they are not marketed or praised with as much enthusiasm as novels. Book clubs, college essays, even library shelves are more likely to be promoting novels than short fiction.

Is that still true? There are thousands of literary magazines with focus on short stories across the country, and MFA Creative Writing programs are bursting at the seams with hopeful writers – most who are learning to write short stories as their primary craft. Almost three weeks ago, Junot Diaz, an author who won the Pulitzer Prize for his first novel released not another novel but a book of short stories. It is currently fifth on the New York Times Bestseller list for hardcovers. A book of short stories selling well to the general public.

Other writers are taking this risk as well. Emma Donaghue was a finalist for the Man Booker prize for her best-selling novel Room, and recently she released a collection of short stories named Astray. No longer are short stories something authors do until they can get a book deal – now the short stories are book deals in themselves.

Olive Kitteridge is a best-selling “novel in stories” by Elizabeth Strout – a marketing tool that has been popular lately. Is it a collection of short stories with a central character, or is it a novel separated into different stories? Likely, in the interest of a more mainstream readership, the publisher decided to market it as a novel.

For many readers, short stories are a form used only for convenience in classroom settings or slipped into magazines they were already reading, but this is beginning to change. The market is finding more and more value in short stories and the public is beginning to recognize and buy these collections. Is their smaller form easier to finish in our busy-bee lifestyles? Are they better suited to our oft-thought shrinking attention spans? Is it a result of a plethora of talented short story artists coming out of MFA programs? Or perhaps the many different places to find short stories – literary magazines, collections of prize-winners, e-books, online?

The makeup and background of literature is changing, from MFA programs to e-books. It will be interesting to see if novels soon become less ubiquitous and short stories more popular and accessible. In a few more years, will bookstores be selling out of popular short story collections more often than popular novels?

Meet the Interns: Gary Blair, Art Editor

Gary Blair is a junior in ASU’s Interdisciplinary Studies Program with concentrations in Biology and Creative Writing.

Superstition Review: What is your position with Superstition Review and what are your responsibilities?

Gary Blair: With Superstition Review I’m an Art Editor. Specifically, I review the open art submissions adding my input to the final selection process and solicit art from established sources to increase the quality of SR publications.

SR: How did you hear about Superstition Review and what made you decide to get involved?

GB: I was looking into an internship with Hayden’s Ferry Review, Arizona State’s print literary journal, when I received an email from the ASU English Department asking for applications to join SR. I chose to apply to SR because as an undergraduate I can be more involved in material selection and publication processes.

SR: What are you hoping to take away from your Superstition Review experience?

GB: I’m planning to learn how an online literary journal works. Though I’m only responsible for a small percentage of the work, being behind the scenes allows me a first-hand perspective for most everything involved.

SR: Describe one of your favorite literary or artistic works.

GB: Many years ago when I was in elementary school, we had a program called Art Masterpiece. Once a week a volunteer would come in with a famous print then tell us about it and the artist. Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh grabbed me at a young age. Maybe I like the contrast of yellow and blue, maybe it’s the swirling in the vegetation, I’m not sure. I just can (and have) sit for hours, letting the painting take my mind.

SR: What are you currently reading?

GB: Mostly, I read my anatomy and physiology textbook. I do keep bookmarks in my poetry textbook, 100 Hair-raising Little Horror Stories edited by Al Sarrantonio and Martin H. Greenberg, Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, and The Complete Far Side by Gary Larson.

SR: What is your favorite Superstition Review section, and why?

GB: Art! On almost every site on the web you find some attempt at art. It’s often no more than a decoration, but it’s there. Some of it’s bad and most is cute for cute’s sake. SR promotes artists who provoke thought, a rarity on the web.

SR: Do you prefer reading literary magazines online or in print?

GB: In print. My netbook doesn’t do well in the tub and there’s something to be said for paper products that I can drop into a bag without worrying about. As phone and/or Kindle-type technology improves, I may change my mind.

SR: Do you write or create art? What are you currently working on?

GB: The day poorly drawn stick figures are popular, I’m set. Until then I write fiction. I’m currently submitting a story entitled “Penny as My Thoughts” to other journals. It’s a vaguely creepy short story about a penny obsessed man who discovers that some of his pennies are good luck and while others are bad. I’m also finishing the editing of a fantasy novel. It centers on a young woman whose home is only kept safe from ravenous plants by mages who keep the ground frozen.

SR: Besides interning for Superstition Review, how do you spend your time?

GB: Schoolwork, family, friends, the usual. Sometimes I write, paint models, play computer games, mess with my two fish tanks, or read a book. I have 200+ TV channels and a DVR yet watch less than five hours a week. I hear that Americans average five hours a day. That almost makes it a full-time job for someone to pick up my slack.

SR: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

GB: Married and living in the greater Phoenix area. I’ll be employed as a Physician’s Assistant in a setting with five or less medical providers. I’d like a family practice, though an urgent care clinic could be fun too. In my free time I’d like to continue my writing and have at least one story published.

Meet the Interns: Dustin Diehl, Nonfiction Editor

dustinDustin Diehl is a Senior at Arizona State University majoring in English Literature and minoring in Religious Studies. He is also pursuing a LGBT Certificate.

Superstition Review: What do you do for SR?

Dustin Diehl: I solicit work from nonfiction authors to be considered for publication. I then read through submissions (both solicited and submitted) and decide which ones I think should be included. Together, with Liz, we decide which ones to include, then send out rejection/acceptance e-mails.

SR: How did you hear about or get involved with Superstition Review?

DD: Trish is my Honors Thesis advisor and asked if I would like to participate…I said yes!

SR: What is your favorite section of SR? Why?

DD: I really enjoy fiction; however, I’ve been earning a deeper appreciation for nonfiction…seeing how people can take ordinary circumstances (or even not-so-ordinary circumstances) and convey them in a creative and readable form is fascinating to me.

SR: Who is your dream contributor to the journal? Talk about him/her.

DD: I would love for Michael Stackpole to contribute a short fiction story. I love his Star Wars novels and he’s a local writer!

SR: What job, other than your own, would you like to try out in the journal?

DD: I think it would be fun to be a part of the marketing team. I work for an online ad agency, so getting to apply my job skills to something fun like SR would be pretty cool.

SR: What are you most excited for in the upcoming issue?

DD: I’m really excited to read the submitted work…it’s always fun to read people’s work, especially when you find a diamond in the rough!

SR: What was the first book you remember falling in love with and what made it so special?

DD: The first book I fell in love with was The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare. I loved how it deftly juxtaposed religious history, political history and fiction into a very readable and timeless story. In high school, I adapted the book into a play script and would still love to produce a stage version of the book.

SR: What are you currently reading?

DD: Currently reading the Star Wars: X-Wing series by Michael Stackpole and Aaron Allston. Reading should be fun, and these books are fun!

SR: What are some of your favorite websites to waste time on or distract you from homework?

DD: I’m a huge movie buff, so I’m constantly on WorstPreviews.com, a movie news blog.  I’m also an avid Star Wars fan, so I enjoy TheForce.net as well.

SR: Do you write? Tell us about a project you’re working on.

I do write; usually fiction, but I’ve found nonfiction to be very satisfying as well. I’m working on a collection of creative nonfiction essays for my Honors Thesis as well as a LGBT-themed modern fantasy novel.

Meet the Interns: Samantha Novak, Reading Series Editor

samanthanovak_0Reading Series Editor Samantha Novak is a sophomore at Arizona State University majoring in Global Studies and minoring in Spanish and Urban Planning.

Superstition Review: How did you hear about or get involved with Superstition Review?

Samantha Novak: I actually came to the Review by a slightly unconventional route. I am not an English major, but I heard about Superstition Review from my Honors English 102 teacher. She proposed it as a really neat opportunity and said that any of us interested should apply. I did, and here I am!

SR: What is your favorite section of SR? Why?

SN: I think my favorite section of SR is probably the art section, I have always found photography incredibly powerful and enjoy having the opportunity to be exposed to new and different artists.

SR: Who is your dream contributor to the journal?

SN: My dream contributor would probably be Ruth Reichl. She has written some extremely powerful stories about her relationship with her family and with food (Reichl was a New York Times food critic and the editor-in-chief of Gourmet). I can really relate to this relationship since I also love food so much.

SR: What job, other than your own, would you like to try out in the journal?

SN: I really enjoy the job I am working at right now, but if I was doing something else I think I would like to try out being the blogger. It would force me to be more methodical with my blogging, which I think would bleed over to increased blogging in my other blogs.

SR: What are you most excited for in the upcoming issue?

SN: I am really excited to be able to experience new artists and writers. I am always looking for new work to read.

SR: What was the first book you remember falling in love with and what made it so special?

SN: I fell in love with The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede. The novels feature a really strong, feisty princess protagonist that would rather swordfight than do embroidery. When her parents try to set her up in an arranged marriage she runs away to be a dragon’s princess. Magic, dragons, pretty dresses, sly references and humor–what’s not to love? I brought the books with me to college and still read them when I’m feeling down.

SR: What are you currently reading?

SN: I am bout to start The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson.

SR: What are some of your favorite websites to waste time on or distract you from homework?

SN: I love mentalfloss.com, cakewrecks.com, Facebook and various food blogs.

SR: Do you create art? Tell us about a project you’re working on.

SN: I do photography, and I am currently in the post processing stage of some photographs I took this summer when I spent a month in China.