Karen Bender is the author of the story collection Refund, published by Counterpoint Press in 2015; it is a Finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction, and is on the shortlist for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize; it was also a Los Angeles Times bestseller. She is also the author of Like Normal People, (Houghton Mifflin) which was a Los Angeles Times bestseller, a Washington Post Best Book of the Year, and a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and A Town of Empty Rooms (Counterpoint Press).
Her short fiction has appeared in magazines including The New Yorker, Granta, Ploughshares, Zoetrope, Story, Narrative, The Harvard Review, Guernica, and The Iowa Review. Her stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, Best American Mystery Stories, and New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best and have won two Pushcart prizes. Two of her stories have been read in the Selected Shorts program on NPR.
On December 1st you can read our interview with Karen Bender in the Launch of our 16th Issue.
Jessica Swanson is a Senior at Arizona State University majoring in English with a concentration in Creative Writing.
Superstition Review:What do you do for SR?
Jessica Swanson: As the Web Design Team Manager I oversee projects for the Blogger, Web Developer, and Photoshop Editor. I initiate or remind the members of upcoming projects as well as assist them with certain projects or questions. During the past few weeks the team and I have begun a rebuild of the SR webpage which I am extremely excited about. This includes redesign the fonts, colors, and layout of the site as well as creating a new banner that will represent SR during the release of the fourth issue.
SR: How did you hear about or get involved with Superstition Review?
JS: I have had a few classes with Trish in the past and had heard about Superstition Review a few times. Since it is my last undergraduate semester at ASU I thought this would be a great opportunity to gain some hands-on experience with this online literary publication.
SR: What is your favorite section of SR? Why?
JS: I am a fiction girl so I would have to say that section and the art section are my two favorite areas of SR. I primarily write fiction so I am drawn to that section just from a personal bias, and I am always fascinated by artwork and, therefore, attracted to that section.
SR: Who is your dream contributor to the journal? Talk about him/her.
JS: Well he has already contributed to the journal, but I would really love to see a piece of fiction by Sherman Alexie. He is a very diverse author/poet and I find his work extremely influential in my personal life. I have a deep respect for him as a Native American author and would love to meet him one day.
SR: What job, other than your own, would you like to try out in the journal?
JS: I would really like to be a fiction editor (big surprise) or possible work for the marketing team.
SR: What are you most excited for in the upcoming issue?
JS: I am very excited about the re-design of the SR website. My team has been working very hard these past two weeks to get this up and running by the fourth launch and I am extremely excited to see the final result.
SR: What was the first book you remember falling in love with and what made it so special?
JS: Well this wasn’t really one of the first books that I ever fell in love with, but this was the first book that made me cry. I remember being in elementary school and reading Where the Red Fern Grows, probably for pleasure and not as an assigned reading. I was home alone and it was an overcast, early winter day. I sat in an oversized plush chair in the living room, curled up with my feet underneath me. As I read the novel I became overwhelmed by what I was reading, never having read something quite like that at my age. I cried and cried until my family came home and at the time I was sad, but I was also thrilled because that was the first time I had truly interacted with a book. After that I just became an even bigger bookworm and you could not pull me out of library for anything.
SR: What are you currently reading?
JS: Besides schoolwork I am attempting to read a mystery called Beautiful Lies. This has been a feat considering the workload of the first few weeks, but I hope to have it completed soon. I am very surprised with the novel so far–something I wasn’t expecting since it had been on the bargain table at Barnes and Noble. During the summer I read the entire Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris and I would like to start viewing the show True Blood which is based on the series. Also, I am greatly anticipating Dan Brown’s new novel The Lost Symbol which continues the Robert Langdon series.
SR: What artist have you really connected with, either in subject matter, work, or motto?
JS: I think I talk about Sherman Alexie a little bit too much, but he has got to be my favorite author just because of subject matter (although I hear he is a pretty nice guy as well). He has really helped me not only as a writer, but also as a Native American who always felt a little bit like an outcast within the community. I appreciate his work because he is so true and honest and humorous. I truly respect him as an author and I greatly value his work.
SR: What would be your dream class to take at ASU? What would the title be and what would it cover?
JS: Dream class? Naptime 101. But that will never happen. I really wish I could take a class where I am being graded to read whatever I want. If I knew that I could devote two hours a night to reading some random fiction novel off the shelf for a grade then I would be in heaven. I have found that during semesters I really cannot dedicate the time I would like to read novels for pleasure. If I could have a class where I was allowed to do that then I would be overjoyed.