Interview with Jocelyn Cullity

Jocelyn Cullity has published short fiction, creative nonfiction, documentary film and scholarship; she’s currently completing her first novel, set in 1857 India. Cullity teaches creative writing at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and also in the low-residency BFA program at Goddard College in Vermont.

Superstition Review: Your piece “Mutiny” takes place in India, and you’ve also co-written an analytical essay on female representation in Indian popular culture, specifically as perpetuated in media such as MTV India. What about India would you say inspires your writing?

Jocelyn Cullity: My British family on my mother’s side lived in India for five generations. The stories told to me by my mother and my great-aunts were more about India than anywhere else.

One of the most violent events in Indian history began in 1857 when Indian citizens revolted against the variety of injustices occurring during British rule. My ancestor, Ellen Huxham, was one of the women held hostage during a five-month siege in Lucknow during the “mutiny,” and she kept a diary during that time. When I was about 12, I transcribed her diary, and this event in particular stayed with me.

SR: Have you travelled to India and if so, were you inspired to write about it afterwards, or did you travel there because it inspired you?

JC: I have had the opportunity to visit India several times. I love India and I have gone when I can. I’ve gone to write, for research, but also just to visit family and friends. It was sometime after my last trip that I wrote the short story “Mutiny” as a part of my dissertation collection at Florida State University, and after that I began working on the novel.

SR: “Mutiny” begins, “India. May 24th, 1857.” What do you think it does for a story to have a concrete setting?

JC: Janet Burroway (the writer, teacher, and one of my mentors) has written that setting means more to writers than anything else. I do think that setting is everything, and that to establish an immediate concrete image of location in the reader’s mind is useful and most often necessary. When one is writing about a different country and a different century it’s crucial to establish time and place in the reader’s mind as soon as one can.

SR: There is an element of the supernatural in “Mutiny” that contrasts with the almost sparse narration. How did you envision your narrator when you began writing “Mutiny” and was this contrast your intention from the beginning, or did it develop after the fact?

JC: I don’t think I thought about this sort of contrast. The dead husband suddenly appeared in the doorway, and I wrote him down. To his wife, he is as real as the siege around her. However, I’m fascinated by the existence of supernatural elements in the short story, over the form’s history, so, as I think about it now, it doesn’t surprise me that the ghost character showed up.

SR: “Mutiny” is an excerpt from your forthcoming novel of the same name. How does it feel to see your work and your efforts coming together into a tangible form?

JC: I started the story “Mutiny” very tentatively. I had the feeling I should explore the character of Eva before embarking on a larger project; she is one of several important characters I’d been thinking of for the novel. Now it feels utterly inevitable to be writing the book. I’m almost finished and it is gratifying to see what I hope is coming together.

I should say that the title that I used for the short story — “Mutiny” – is used with a good dose of irony. The “mutiny of 1857” is still a phrase used by some; some others call it “India’s First War of Independence.” I have used the word “Mutiny” as a working title for the novel but I’m not completely sure yet if that’s what it will be called. I hope to decide that in the next months.

 

Launch of Issue 7: Fiction

Superstition Review Issue 7 has launched and to celebrate we will be featuring blog posts about our artists and authors. Today we will be highlighting a few of the talented fiction authors who are featured in Issue 7.

Aaron Michael Morales is an Associate Professor of English & Gender Studies at Indiana State University. His first novel, Drowning Tucson (2010)—cited by Esquireas “the bleakly human debut of the new Bukowski”—was named a “Top Five Fiction Debut” by Poets & Writers. Other books include a chapbook of short fiction, titled From Here You Can Almost See the End of the Desert (2008), and a textbook, The American Mashup (2011). He edits fiction for Grasslands Review and reviews books for Latino Poetry Review and Multicultural Review. He is completing his second novel, Eat Your Children. Read his fiction piece “A Shoebox. A Thimble. A Onesie” featured in issue 7. Aaron Morales’s Website

Samuel Kolawole’s fiction has appeared in Black Biro, Storytime, Authorme, Storymoja, Eastown fiction, forthcoming in jungle jim and elsewhere. His story collection The book of M is due to be out soon. A recipient of the Reading Bridges fellowship, Samuel lives in Ibadan, southwest Nigeria where he has begun work on his novel Olivia of Hustle House.
Read his fiction piece “Mud, if it Were Gold” featured in issue 7.

Rich Ives has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. His writing has appeared in Verse, North American Review, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review, Fiction Daily and many more. He is the 2009 winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander. His story collection, The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking, was one of five finalists for the 2009 Starcherone Innovative Fiction Prize. In 2010 he has been a finalist in fiction at Black Warrior Review and Mississippi Review and in poetry at Cloudbank and Mississippi Review. Read his fiction piece “Who the Hell Does He Think He Is?” in issue 7.

Terese Svoboda‘s sixth novel, Bohemian Girl, will be published next fall. Her fifth, Pirate Talk or Mermalade (2010), is “a strange and nastily beautiful book,”—The Millions. Read her fiction piece “Madonna in the Terminal” in issue 7. Terese Svoboda’s Website

 

 

 

The full magazine with featured art and artists can be found here. Check back tomorrow to read about the interviews featured in Issue 7.

Meet the Interns: Gina Rossi, Fiction Editor

Gina Rossi is a junior majoring in Creative Writing.

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

Gina Rossi: As Fiction Editor, my responsibilities mainly involve reading submissions and giving my input on what gets published.

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

GR: I was looking for a publishing related internship and heard about SR through one of my professors. It seemed like the perfect internship for someone looking to learn more about the publishing field.

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

GR: I hope to read a lot of great fiction, improve my own writing/interviewing skills, and learn as much as possible about publishing an online literary magazine.

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

GR: Artistic work would have to be Picasso’s Guernica. I saw all 26 ft. x 11 ft. of it in person and it’s breathtaking, very odd but inspiring. As far as literary work, anything Jane Austen will do.

SR: What are you currently reading?

GR: Being Dead by Jim Crace.

SR: Who would be the Superstition Review contributor of your dreams?

GR: Andrea Avery Decker.

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

GR: I write short fiction. During the school semesters it’s hard for me to give ample amounts time to my personal projects so I’m writing drafts of stories for my classes.

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

GR: I travel to San Diego a lot to spend time with my boyfriend. I enjoy photography, specifically black and white film photography that I develop myself. I love to bake/cook, read, learn yoga, and spend time with family.

SR: What is your favorite mode of relaxation?

GR: Ben & Jerry’s and a good classic movie–something Audrey Hepburn.

SR: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

GR: I’m hoping to be published by then, and happy, definitely happy.

Meet the Interns: Michael Volkers, Content Coordinator

Michael Volkers is a junior studying English Literature.

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

Michael Volkers: I am the Content Coordinator and my responsibilities primarily lie in keeping tabs of the content to be published on the magazine.

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

MV: I heard about SR through the English department’s e-mail distribution, which I acted upon, and here I am!

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

MV: I hope my experience with SR will create a foothold into a possible career in publishing. I also hope it will improve my writing by learning the processes behind literary publishing.

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

MV: Oh, now that is a difficult one. I have so many favorites, but lately I was introduced to Salvador Plascencia’s People of Paper, which is a brilliant piece of work. For those who have not read it, it is a very postmodern novel that involves a great battle between the novel’s characters and the author himself over the commodification of sadness. I highly recommend it.

SR: What are you currently reading?

MV: I am currently reading The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism for school and Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five for fun.

SR: What other position(s) for Superstition Review would you like to try out?

MV: I would like to try out being a Fiction Editor. I think it would be a great experience.

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

MV: I am torn on that one. I prefer to hold published material in my hands, but the convenience of the internet is great. Lately I have been reading both.

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

MV: I write fiction in my spare time. I have a several pieces of short fiction I need to polish and a novel in the works. My friends are prodding me to write a screenplay as well.

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

MV: Most of my time outside of SR is devoted to homework, my day job at a law office, and spending time with family and friends.

SR: What is your favorite mode of relaxation?

MV: For relaxation I like to pick up a horror novel or troll the internet.

Meet the Interns: Lisa Mortensen, Reading Series Coordinator

Lisa Mortensen is a third year Imaginative Writing major at ASU.

What is your position with Superstition Review and what are your responsibilities?
Reading Series Coordinator—I set up Superstition Review’s three readings for the semester.

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

Lisa Mortensen: My Fiction 288 professor announced to our class about the possibility of working with Superstition Review. I was super excited to work on a project which promoted literature and art, not to mention the enthusiasm I had about being part of a publication which is created by undergraduate students of ASU.

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

LM: After working with Superstition Review I hope to take away the knowledge and experience necessary to work for a publishing house as an Acquisitions Editor.

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

LM: Although I have specific authors in mind when I think about my favorite literary works, I must take a moment to talk about three genres that have recently demanded my attention: The Short, Prose Poetry, and Flash Fiction. At first glance, or read, it would be easy to call these genres simplistic, because of their length. However, a closer inspection reveals thoughtful and careful word choice, where quality of word takes over quantity. The powerful words, images and thoughts of the narrator are coming at you so quickly that your attention never wanders or strays from the piece. The effect is like being in the moment with the narrator when the surprises and twists come along, as well as the reader themselves feeling vulnerable to the raw emotions that come along with those experiences.

SR: What are you currently reading?

LM: In keeping with my newly found favorite genres, I have recently read and highly recommend Judith Ortiz Cofer’s “Volar,” Brian Doyle’s “Two Hearts,” Denis Johnson’s “Crash While Hitchhiking,” Russell Edson’s “Dinner Time,” and Luisa Valenzuela’s “Vision out of the Corner of One Eye.”

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

LM: I am rarely able to narrow down any choice to just one, therefore I have two favorite sections of Superstition Review and they are the fiction and art sections. The fiction section is my favorite, because the content comes from a variety of authors who offer up memoir, short story, and essay. The art section is also my favorite due to the gallery’s assorted collection of art and artists from around the world. I also appreciated the bios and headshots that went along with each author and artist.

SR: Who would be the Superstition Review contributor of your dreams?

LM: For the fiction writing portion that would be Toni Morrison, and as far as art goes I would love to see more collage artists featured.

SR: What other position(s) for Superstition Review would you like to try out?

LM: Art or Fiction Editor

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

LM: Until recently I would have said that I prefer literary magazines in print. However after a recent assignment that had us review several online literary magazines I now appreciate the convenience of locating articles of art and literature online. There isn’t the delay of snail mail or money spent on gas to retrieve the latest literary works. Which leads me to my other appreciation of online literary magazines; they are very eco-friendly!

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

LM: Recently, I’ve combined my love of writing and art and created a collage called, “Élan Vital” which is made of words and pictures. I am an Imaginative Writing major at ASU’s Polytechnic Campus, therefore I am always creating pieces of fiction, mostly on demand. Nevertheless, I actually enjoy both writing fiction and drawing in my spare time. In fact, this is only the second semester where I haven’t taken any art classes since high school.

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

LM: I have adopted two children, one from Ethiopia and another from the US foster care system; so much of my spare time is spent with them. However, in the precious moments that I have to be child-free I enjoy riding motorcycles, traveling, having book club discussions, going to concerts, theater and art shows, singing, yoga and spoiling myself with an occasional spa day.

SR: What is your favorite mode of relaxation?

LM: My favorite mode of relaxation is meditation, for sure. Since I have a hard time shutting my mind off, I grab my headphones and go sit in a darkened room while I listen to soothing music or Emmett Miller’s meditation MP3s. I’ve also found that shutting down my cell phone for an hour works wonders too.

SR: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

LM: In 10 years I definitely see myself as a credible and published author. I also see myself owning a publishing company and teaching Creative Writing to be used as a way of therapy. I realize that this is a lot to accomplish, but I think 10 years is a reasonable enough time to attain all of my goals.

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.

Spring 2009 Reading Series

Reading

Superstition Review hosted its first of two readings for its Spring 2009 Reading Series. The Reading Series began in 2008 with a goal to “form a writing community where students can interact with published authors, and where students can also share their own work,” according to Patricia Murphy, Managing Editor of Superstition Review. On March 16th, authors Cynthia Hogue and Peter Turchi dazzled the audience at ASU’s Polytechnic campus with their poetry and short fiction. Hogue read a group of elegant poems that the audience could relate to well, and Turchi read a comical short story that entertained, as well as enlightened, the audience. Those who missed the reading will be able to enjoy an audio podcast of the event here later this month.

Cynthia Hogue
The last reading in the Spring 2009 Reading Series will be held on April 20th at 7:30 p.m. in the Cooley Ballroom of ASU’s Polytechnic campus and will feature student writers from ASU. Students interested in reading their work should e-mail superstitionreview@asu.edu, title it “Student Reading Series,” provide reliable contact information, and paste the work they plan to read in the body of the e-mail. The deadline to submit is April 10th.
The final reading will also be a launch party for the new issue, so be sure to attend.

Peter Turchi