Thursday, April 27, 2023

The 40 But 10 Interview Series: Laurie Marshall

I had decided to retire the literary Would You Rather series, but didn't want to stop interviews on the site all together. Instead, I've pulled together 40ish questions - some bookish, some silly - and have asked authors to limit themselves to answering only 10 of them. That way, it keeps the interviews fresh and connectable for all of us!

Joining us today is Laurie Marshall. Laurie is an award-winning writer and collage artist working in Northwest Arkansas. Recent work has been awarded the 2021 Lascaux Prize in Flash Fiction, selected for Best Small Fictions 2022 and included in anthologies from Belle Point Press, Bath Flash Fiction and Retreat West. After completing a BA in English with her newborn in tow at the ripe old age of forty-one, Laurie spent several years working in communications for nonprofit organizations and writing content for print and digital lifestyle publications before she took a chance on fiction. Several regrettable entries to writing contests, a couple dozen online workshops taken throughout the pandemic, and more than a little pure good fortune later, and she’s as surprised as anyone to be an emerging writer in her late fifties. She is confident none of this would be possible without Spotify, a steady supply of peanut M&Ms and Party Size bags of nacho cheese-flavored Doritos. Follow her on Twitter @SeeLaurieWrite.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Gosh, I think it depends on whether I’m avoiding writing or just blocked. Either way, laundry, cleaning the air filters and mopping are always options. LOL But in terms of other hobbies and interests, I am a collage artist, and last year I moved most of my art supplies into the guest room that I use as an office to make it easy to transition between writing and making art. Some days when I am not sure I’m ready to dig into a story I’ll tell a story in my sketchbook instead. I’m also a half-assed gardener and seamstress, perform with a comedy improv group, and am a loudmouth in local and state politics. Living in Arkansas provides endless opportunities in that regard. 

What’s your kryptonite as a writer?

I rode the double-decker struggle bus in college any time I was faced with a writing project that required that I read and respond critically to a text. In fact, I ended up with a 2.99 cumulative gpa because I failed a class on women in modernist literature because I just couldn’t figure out what to do for a final paper. I used to shrug and assume I’m just not an intellectual, but I’ve come to realize I’ve spent a lot of time in my life not digging very deep in subjects that would require too much critical thinking. I’m making changes in other areas of my life where this is a failing (yes, politics again…) but I still prefer to read for enjoyment.   

What’s the best money you’ve ever spent as a writer?

Whatever a copy of Writer’s Digest cost in 2011 – that much. I bought it at a Barnes & Noble in Oklahoma City while I was in town for some work training. I don’t remember specific articles I read, but I know I read it cover-to-cover that week and came home thinking I might actually consider the possibility of maybe, at some point, think about trying to be a writer. Fun Fact: I may have fangirled at AWP in Portland when I met Grant Faulkner in person, because I loved his articles in WD so much. He hasn’t blocked me on Twitter, so I guess I wasn’t too weird.

Describe your book in three words.

Relatable. Poignant. Sensory.

Would you and your main character(s) get along?

Like most writers, I think, I see bits of myself in each of the characters in the stories in my collection. There’s the young woman floating in the pool, desperate to be seen, the kid being driven away from a home she doesn’t want to leave, the woman struggling with how to continue to exist after losing someone who was a large part of her identity, the man who is tired of people telling him who he’s supposed to want to be… Since some of these folks represent things I don’t like about myself, I think some would be more likely to be invited to dinner than others, but I would certainly be able to understand them.

If you could cast your characters in a movie, which actors would play them and why?

Okay, this is my FAVORITE question, and the one I spent the most time on. I have a novella-in-flash in progress that I created a cast list for before I even wrote the first story, to give you an idea of how my mind works. I love movies, and I think I write scenes imagining how they’d look on screen without trying to. So here are some select stories and characters and who I’d cast. After you read the collection, let me know if I got them right!

Some of Your Favorite Things Aren’t Made to Last – Dad: Michael Peña   Child: Isabela Moner

In Lieu of Flowers – Hailee Steinfeld

Add a Drop of Whiskey to a Vase of Flowers to Keep them Fresh – Reverend January: Michael Shannon     Young Man: Skyler Gisondo

Burned – Dylan: Joseph Gordon-Levitt    Mom: Frances McDormand

Some of us say we are worried about Larry. – Larry: Colin Firth    Shirley: Olivia Colman

Is Transparent a Color or Does it Mean Invisible – Fiona Shaw

If you could spend the day with another author, who would you choose and why?

This is a tough one, but in the end, I’m not going to choose someone to learn from because there are too many! Instead, I’d choose someone who would be delightful to spend a day with, and I think it would have to be Beatrix Potter. I can just imagine sharing a pot of tea in her garden, talking about writing and how to choose the perfect flowers for a bouquet. Perfect. 

Do you think you’d live long in a zombie apocalypse?

Absolutely! I was an expert shot with an M-16 in the U.S. Army and I’ve watched every episode of the show “Alone” so I’ll be fine. 😊

Are you a book hoarder or a book unhauler?

I’m in transition! I’ve been a hoarder, but at 57 I am realizing there are only so many years left and I need to make hard choices. LOL I have a little free library that’s waiting to be installed in my yard to help me thin the stacks. Wish me luck!


Proof of Life examines small moments in the lives of normal people who struggle with the same foibles and baggage we all possess. This focus on human interaction—the things people do for and to one another—captures the human condition in stark contrasts and in every shade of gray. By exploring characters' emotions and behaviors within the context of recognizable themes such as grief, escapism, disappointment, regret, despair, and brokenness, these tiny stories illuminate lessons in living and challenge us to look more deeply into ourselves. In Proof of Life, we find ourselves asking Big Questions: Can we really trust and depend on others? On ourselves? And yet, through it all, our characters somehow keep their foot on the accelerator, always sure of the next best thing, not worrying about how they get there, but blindly focused on the road ahead. In addition to moments of upheaval and loss, there are significant moments of clarity, of forging independence on broad metaphorical levels in precise prose. Indeed, Marshall’s eye for characters and ability to tap into their psychology in limited space needs a standing ovation.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Blog Tour: The Merry Dredgers


We're happy to help Meerkat Press support the release of their latest title The Merry Dredgers by participating in their blog tour. And if you're at all into winning free stuff, they're running a giveaway where you can potentially win a $50 book shopping spree.

Click here to enter!

Author Jeremy C. Shipp has whipped up a cool Top Five list for us today to help us celebrate the release of their amazing new novel!

Jeremy C. Shipp’s Top Five Favorite Films 

Set in Amusement Parks



My new novel The Merry Dredgers is set in a once-abandoned theme park swarming with animatronic goblins and bizarre carnival games and psychedelic dark rides. I chose this setting in part because the cultists in the book are focused on cultivating joy and honoring their inner child. My other reason for choosing this setting is because I like amusement parks.


One of my favorite childhood memories is visiting our local, third-rate theme park and riding the ghost train. I remember sitting in the dilapidated train car, zooming past rubber bats and plastic skeletons and monsters painted on plywood. I remember the tinny calliope music and the staticky sound effects and the flashing crimson lights.


Since I’m such a big theme park nerd, I thought I would share with you my purely subjective, top five favorite movies set in amusement parks.


1. Carnival of Souls


This movie has everything. A road race, an abandoned carnival, eerie organ music, pasty-looking ghosts. What more do you need? Personally, I think Carnival of Souls is underrated and underappreciated, so if you’ve never seen this melancholic cult classic, maybe give it a try.


2. Jurassic Park


If this film series has taught me anything, it’s that if humans ever decided to bring giant man-eating carnivores back to life at a theme park with weak security measures, this is only a mistake we would make five or six times. Maybe seven.


3. The Funhouse


Tobe Hooper’s The Funhouse follows a group of teenagers fighting to survive the night as they’re trapped in a dark ride and hunted by a murderous carnival worker. This film isn’t as brilliant as Hooper’s Poltergeist or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but it's fun and weird and atmospheric. The makeup and practical effects alone are worth the price of admission to this dark ride.


4. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari


This 1920 German Expressionist silent film is about a hypnotist and somnambulist who work at a sideshow attraction. The tale explores myriad themes such as authority, brutality, conditioning, and the subjective nature of reality. If you haven’t yet explored the wonderful world of silent horror films, this is a good place to start. I’d also recommend Häxan, Nosferatu, Vampyr, The Phantom Carriage, The Phantom of the Opera, Faust, The Man Who Laughs, The Fall of the House of Usher, Frankenstein, The Golem, The Infernal Cauldron, and The Hands of Orlac.


5. Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny


You might be thinking, “Hey, isn’t this a horribly tedious, brain-melting film that shouldn’t be viewed by anyone ever?” Well, yes, you’re right. On the other hand, I’m a fan of bad movies, and this is one of those films that's "so bad it's good. OK, not good, but funny. Sometimes. Maybe." According to what I’ve gleaned from my not very thorough research, this “film” was created to be exhibited at the Pirates World theme park in Dania, Florida. The plot, if you want to call it that, concerns Santa as he attempts to free his sleigh from the sand using a man in a gorilla suit and other animals. You’ll also encounter Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Thumbelina, and an antique fire truck being driven by an eldritch creature known as the ice cream bunny. What's not to love?



Releases April 26th, 2023

Dark Fantasy | Horror

Seraphina Ramon will stop at nothing to find out the truth about why her sister Eff is in a coma after a very suspicious "accident." Even if it means infiltrating the last place Seraphina knows Eff was alive: a once-abandoned amusement park now populated by a community of cultists.

Follow Seraphina through the mouth of the Goblin: To the left, a wolf-themed roller coaster rests on the blackened earth, curled up like a dead snake. To the right, an animatronic Humpty Dumpty falls off a concrete castle and shatters on the ground, only to reform itself moments later. Up ahead, cultists giggle as they meditate in a hall of mirrors. This is the last place in the world Seraphina wants to be, but the best way to investigate this bizarre cult, is to join them.

BUY LINKS: Meerkat Press | Amazon |


My review: 

Yowsers! I wasn't prepared for how much I was going to like this book. I mean, I love everything that Meerkat Press puts out, but dayumn! This was just soooo good.

Phina is a rent-me-by-the-party princess living her best life with her grouchy sidekick cat Heracles, until she receives a series of postcards from her sister Eff who appears to have joined a community that's definitely not a cult. She asks Phina to check on her ex-boyfriend because she's had visions that someone from the retreat-thats-not-a-cult may have hurt him and typically what Eff sees tends to come to pass. Phina does some sleuthing and discovers that, yup, the dude was banged up pretty good in a hit and run, and relays this back to her sister. A few days later, Phina receives a call that Eff is in a coma in the hospital due to bad fall that took place just outside the retreat's grounds.

Head spinning with all sorts of worst-case-scenarios, Phina decides to locate and inflitrate this community-thats-not-a-cult's retreat in order to figure out what sort of nefarious and life threatening things this group is up to.

Set in an abandoned goblin themed amusement park and run by a rich guy who appears to want to relive his childhood to its fullest, Phina must hide her true identify and befriend as many of these odd characters as possible to uncover the truth about Eff's accident, but can she get to the bottom of things before they realize what she's up to?

It's incredibly voice driven and was an absolute blast to read. I started it last night and ended up finishing today in practically one sitting. It sucked me right in and I have no doubt you will be too.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Audio Series: Filthy Creation

Our audio series "The Authors Read. We Listen."  was originally hatched in a NYC club during BEA back in 2012. It's a fun little series, where authors record themselves reading an excerpt from their own novels, in their own voices, the way their stories were meant to be heard.

Caroline Hagood will be reading an excerpt from her novel Filthy Creation, out May 1st with MadHat Press. Caroline is an Assistant Professor of Literature, Writing and Publishing and Director of Undergraduate Writing at St. Francis College in Brooklyn. She is the author of two poetry books, the novel, Ghosts of America, and the book-length essays, Ways of Looking at a Woman and Weird Girls: Writing the Art Monster. Her novel Filthy Creation is forthcoming in May 2023. Her work has appeared in publications including Electric Literature, Creative NonfictionLitHub, the Kenyon Review, the Huffington Post, the GuardianSalon, and Elle.

Click on the soundcloud bar below to hear Caroline reading from Filthy Creation

Filthy Creation (forthcoming May 1, 2023 from MadHat Press), Dylan makes sense of her world through art. Her house is a graveyard of inspiring auto parts her mechanic father has dragged home, her family’s ongoing Frankenstein diorama, and Dylan’s own mishmash of assemblage projects that she sets on fire whenever they don’t meet her standards. Dylan and Shay fall in artsy, gothy, queer love even as Dylan is figuring out that her dead Dad—whose ghost has been visiting her even though she doesn’t believe in such things—was not in fact her biological father, but who was? As Dylan tries to find out, and find herself as an artist, she gets sucked into the world of visiting art teacher, Simon Ambrogio—learning to box and to embrace the more violent side of creativity, and running away from her secret-keeping mother. But she has raw and passionate artwork, and shouldn’t that be enough? Filthy Creation asks what it means to be a girl maker. How do girls fit into the false dichotomy between brilliant, monstrous men artists and supposedly domesticated women ones? And how can a young artist even figure out her own identity amid all this noise?

Monday, April 24, 2023

The 40 But 10 Interview Series: Claudia Meléndez Salinas


I had retired the literary Would You Rather interview series, but didn't want to stop interviews on the site all together. Instead, I've pulled together 40ish questions - some bookish, some silly - and have asked authors to limit themselves to answering only 10 of them. That way, it keeps the interviews fresh and connectable for all of us!


Joining me today is Claudia Meléndez Salinas. Claudia is an Indigenous Mexican Chicana born in Puebla, Mexico. Her writing has been published in La Jornada, Latina Magazine, and other publications in the United States and Mexico. In 2017 she co-founded Voices of Monterey Bay,,  a bilingual internet magazine for California's central coast. Her poems have been published in Journal X, LatinoLiteratures, and her poem “Transitioning” was the recipient of the 2022 Red Wheelbarrow poetry award. Her first book, A Fighting Chance, was published by Arte Público Press in 2015. “A Fighting Chance” is a young adult novel that fictionalizes real events that took place in the mid 2000 in Salinas, Calif., when the city was struggling with funding and was trying to reduce services for youth.

Why do you write?

Two reasons: writing is like breathing for me, a biological necessity. I have to write at least a sentence a day in order to feel whole. It is how I achieve clarity and how I process feelings, ideas, how I resolve conflicts in my head. It’s like a daily emotional cleanse. 

I also write because I want to increase Latino representation in the written word. This country needs to have more writers who come from a Latina background, who see the world from our point of view and express their views about how the world works from our perspective. It’s a grain of sand on a vast shore, but it’s MY grain. 😀


If you met your characters in real life, what would you say to them? 

I’m very fond of Miguel Ángel, the main character in “A Fighting Chance.” I see him as I would a son, so everything I want to tell him, I do it through Ita, his ghost great-grandmother. She tells him not to be a knucklehead, not to get into fights, not to fall for a life on the streets. I’d tell him the exact same things, plus that he's loved and the universe will take care of him. 


Would you and your main character(s) get along? 

I would definitely get along with Ita. I would love to listen to her stories about the Mexican Revolution. My younger self would have loved to share a cigarette with her, but I don’t smoke anymore. 


If you could cast your characters in a movie, which actors would play them and why? 

Gael García Bernal is getting a bit old to play Miguel Ángel, but he would have been definitely a good one when he was 17. When I wrote “A Fighting Chance,” Miguel Ángel looked like Gael in my head. Or Tenoch Huerta. Maybe Michael Cimino or Marcel Ruiz. He has to be a young, athletic actor, since Miguel Ángel is a boxer.  For Britney, Anya Taylor-Joy or Millie Bobby Brown, they’re both good looking girls, just like I imagine Britney to be.  


If you could spend the day with another author, who would you choose and why? 

Trevor Noah. His book “Born a Crime” is brilliant, and his shows are great. He strikes me as the type of person who just makes witty commentaries about life and how the world works at the drop of a hat, so spending the day with him would be an education. 


What are some of your favorite books and/or authors? 

Louise Penny and all the books in the Inspector Gamache series are great. Milan Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” is a masterpiece. Tlacaelel: The Aztec among Aztecs by Antonio Velazco Piña changed my life. I also love Elena Poniatowska. So many books, so little time!


What is your favorite book from childhood? 

“The Sword in the Stone”, the Disney version. I had my mom buy that from me when I was like 4, and had her read it to me over and over and over. Then I learned to read and read it like a million times. I loved Merlin and his power to transform Arthur into a fish and a squirrel. Archimedes is a great character as well. That book really inspired me to become a lifelong book lover. 


What are you currently reading? 

Just finished reading Tenoch Huerta’s “Brown Pride” and “Poet Warrior: a Memoir” by Joy Harjo. I have a stack of six books to choose the next one from that include “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” by Ocean Voung and Viola Davis’ “Finding Me.” I’ll choose before going to be tonight. Lol. 


Are you a book hoarder or a book unhauler? 

Definitely a hoarder. When it comes time to make room for more books, I just put them in boxes in storage instead of giving them away. I just fall in love with them and I can’t let them go. 


What’s the single best line you’ve ever read? 

“Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last.” It’s the first line of “Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer” by  Sena Jeter Naslund. That line has haunted me for years, it packs so much in it. It’s perfect. The entire book is great. 



Seventeen-year-old Miguel Angel spends every minute after school at the Packing Shed, working out with the Alisal Boxing Club. He dreams of becoming a champion so he can get his mother and five siblings out of their cramped one-bedroom apartment in one of Salinas’ poorest barrios.                                                                

But suddenly his life gets more complicated. The city is threatening to take the Packing Shed away from Coach, and without a place to train he won’t be able to avoid the gangbangers in his neighborhood. His childhood friend, Beto, has succumbed to the wiles of easy money and expensive cars, and Miguel Angel wonders if he’ll be able to resist. Meanwhile, beautiful blonde Britney from Pebble Beach has entered his life, and Miguel Angel has never felt this way before. She too feels an overwhelming attraction, and she’s willing to defy her hard-nosed father, who expects her to date someone from their social background of exclusive country clubs and Ivy League schools.           

When Beto turns to him for help, Miguel Angel is torn between his commitment to friends and Coach’s warnings about gang life. With gang violence getting closer and closer, he and Britney are suddenly faced with the consequences of unprotected sex. Can their love for each other survive all of the problems swirling around them?                    

In A Fighting Chance, journalist Claudia Meléndez Salinas has crafted a vivid novel for young adults that captures the challenges of contemporary urban life in one of the Latino community’s poorest barrios.       

Buy a copy here: 

Thursday, April 20, 2023

The 40 But 10 Interview Series: Shameez Patel Papathanasiou


I had retired the literary Would You Rather interview series, but didn't want to stop interviews on the site all together. Instead, I've pulled together 40ish questions - some bookish, some silly - and have asked authors to limit themselves to answering only 10 of them. That way, it keeps the interviews fresh and connectable for all of us!

Shameez Patel Papathanasiou was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa. She lives there with her husband, child and two cats named Turbo and Charger. During the day she juggles her time between singing Baby Shark to her daughter and working as a civil engineer where she designs roads and analyses traffic, but at night she writes fantasy worlds with magic, monsters and someone to fall in love with. She considers herself a professional binge-watcher and fangirl. Don’t be surprised to bump into her dressed as a Hobbit or Lady Loki. Should you need anything from her, offer a choc-chip cookie and her heart is yours forever.Shameez fell in love with fiction, especially fantasy fiction at a young age. Her parents fondly recall receiving her first handwritten story before the age of ten, titled The Treasures of Zombie Island, which surprisingly featured no zombies at all. She has been writing ever since.Her fantasy novel, The Last Feather published in 2022 by Flame Tree Press – it, at the very least, features a feather.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I work a full-time job as an engineer and that keeps me busy throughout the day, in the evenings, I spend time with my husband and kid and after the sun’s gone down and the house is quiet, if I am not writing, I am generally reading.


If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

Funnily enough, this is answered in The Last Feather along with all my reasons, because it’s something I think about rather often! I’ll tell you anyway: Teleportation.


How do you celebrate when you finish writing a new book?

This is a bit embarrassing, but often I cry. It’s a strange feeling writing a story to completion and depending on how long it took me, I spent a lot of time with those characters in my head and finally finishing their story, is, in a way, saying goodbye to them.


Describe your book in three words.

Fun, sexy, magical.


If you met your characters in real life, what would you say to them?

I’m sorry and also you’re welcome.


Would you and your main character(s) get along?

Cassia is headstrong and I am sure we’ll butt heads, but I have no doubt she’ll be in my corner whenever I need her and who doesn’t need a friend like that? Lucas, well… I would have to do everything in my power not to fall madly in love with him.  


What is your favorite way to waste time?

THE SIMS. I could easily spend an entire day glued to my screen with a game of The Sims. Since the first release, I have been binge playing this game every couple of years.


Do you read the reviews of your books or do you stay far far away from them, and why?

Two pieces of advice have been given to me and I hold them near:

1.       Review sites are for readers not for writers.

2.       Good reviews will find their way to you.

I’ve found this to be true. Friends and family often send me screenshots of raving reviews without me having to look for them myself.


Do you think you’d live long in a zombie apocalypse?

Oh man, this is my entire motivation for attempting even one minute of exercise. I am so slow, so if there is a zombie apocalypse, I will survive long enough provided there aren’t any runners. My aim is great, so there’s that.


What songs would be on the soundtrack of your life?

My music taste, much like my style, is rather eclectic–but there is one thing they all have in common: Lyrics I can sing along to which speak to my soul. From Bastille and Imagine Dragons, to Mika and Taylor Swift, with plenty of Coldplay in between. I can promise you’ll have a good time listening to it, and maybe you’ll cry a little. 



South African born, debut author brings a threat-and-danger, hidden-world fantasy with touches of Suzanne Collins which fans of VE Schwab or Sarah J Maas will love.

In The Last Feather, Twenty-two-year-old Cassia's sister is dying, and she doesn't know why. Cassia wakes up in another realm to find her missing best friend, Lucas, who knows how to save her sister. Meanwhile, Lucas is part of a community of Reborns, people who were born on earth and after death, were reborn in this realm with magical abilities. The original beings of the realm, the Firsts, rule over them.

To keep the Reborn numbers manageable, the king of the Firsts releases a curse to cull them. Cassia needs to break the curse before her time runs out and she is trapped there forever.


Now... In The Eternal Shadow:

After returning to her realm, Cassia continues to use the magic she’d discovered in Selene. Little did she know, that wasn’t allowed and because of it, she’s abducted by the king. Luckily, Prince Lochlan is still living in the castle pretending to be under the king’s command. After Lochlan frees Cassia, they all need to flee Selene to escape the king and find allies elsewhere.

But in this new realm, all the inhabitants are afraid of the dark where a shadow is lurking, feeding upon them.

With nowhere else to go, they have to choose, either they face the king or this eternal shadow.

You can buy the book here: 


Monday, April 17, 2023

The 40 But 10 Interview Series: Aleah Dye


I had retired the literary Would You Rather interview series, but didn't want to stop interviews on the site all together. Instead, I've pulled together 40ish questions - some bookish, some silly - and have asked authors to limit themselves to answering only 10 of them. That way, it keeps the interviews fresh and connectable for all of us!


Today, we are joined by Aleah Dye. Aleah (she/her) primarily writes poetry, tending towards topics of morbidity, love, mental illness, religion, and philosophy. She is dreadfully afraid of imperfection and spiders, in no particular order. She has a one-eyed cat named Ivy and a one-track-minded (food!) cat named Rosebud. Aleah hopes to make hearts grow three sizes with her words. She is a 2020 Sundress Publications Best of the Net nominee and the graphic designer for perhappened. Read her latest poem via Anti-Heroin Chic, and check out her debut chapbook theory of creation with kith press. Follow her @bearsbeetspoet on Twitter.  

Do you have any hidden talents?

When it comes to hidden talents, I usually default to showing off my ability to pop my thumb… joint? bone? in and out. I can do this with both thumbs, but I’m way more proficient with my left! I occasionally make people put their finger against it to feel it happen—maybe creepy, but definitely fun!

What’s something that’s true about you but no one believes?

Hmm… maybe the fact that I usually get my paintings, drawings, graphic designs, and other art finished really quickly (sometimes just 20-30 minutes). People don’t think I’m lying, but they often react with disbelief in that they find it a surprising truth.

What’s your kryptonite as a writer?

My kryptonite as a writer is probably trying to make a poem (or any piece of writing, really) longer. I stop myself short SO often with all of my art. Is this a good thing? Often. Yet, I wish I had the patience to stick with a poem longer and develop it into a larger vignette.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

I would want the superpower to heal others. I move through life trying to help people in any way I can, and to magically  heal people would be so useful, fulfilling, and important.

Describe your book in three words.

Deconstruction, self-actualization, love.

Summarize your book using only gifs or emojis.


 If you could spend the day with another author, who would you choose and why?

In a less realistic sense, I would choose Neil Hilborn. (This is less realistic because I don’t imagine it ever happening). I’d choose him because he’s inspired so much of my writing and writing style, and I’d love to discuss that with him. Also, he just seems like such a cool, easygoing guy; I would feel at ease and we’d end up at some kind of fun, unique event or store or park. I can just see it.


In a more realistic sense (because I can totally imagine this happening), I would choose Lilia Marie Ellis. Lilia is a friend of mine from Twitter, and she also happens to be an amazing poet. Spending a day with them would be an opportunity to deepen our friendship and to learn from each other, in terms of poetry, philosophy, and more.

What are some of your favorite websites or social media platforms?

I would like to shout out YouTube. I am a huge fan. So many YouTubers have been formative to my life and to making me who I am (Good Mythical Morning, Markiplier, Daniel Howell & Amazing Phil, to name a few). The app allows for so much creativity, connection, comfort, and just good ole’ silly humor.

What is your favorite book from childhood?

Oh, it would be impossible to settle on just one! However, a book that is always knocking around in my head, insisting I remember its wackiness, is The Giggler Treatment by Roddy Doyle. I have such simultaneously vague yet specific memories of this book. I recall it being a lovely, goofy journey with a good narrative voice.

Do you read the reviews of your books or do you stay far far away from them, and why?

I always, always, always read reviews of my books! Each review is a gift, in my opinion. A reviewer puts a piece of themself into the review; to read their individual thoughts and feelings about words I’ve crafted is to witness a deep part of them and to foster connection. I am grateful for that shared emotion. Similarly, I am grateful for any feedback, good or bad, as I can use it to  further hone my craft.


"Because something so beautiful should never suffer”—so Aleah Dye proclaims unwaveringly in the opening poem of her collection. Dye's poetry is symphonic and hopeful, moving from loss of faith in God to her triumphant faith in human beings. Theory of Creation is an adamant cry of resilience, of love for life and the people who make it worthwhile. It is a treasure for all of us who are "waiting to hear from heaven", and meanwhile assured only of earth.

- Lilia Marie Ellis


So easy and nourishingly agreeable is it, to be charmed and acquainted with this poet through this small taste of their talent. This reader finds kinship in the floating sense of wonder, the dreamy, curious, confident sensuality, and the overflowing musing against dogma and conditional love. Ideals and idylls even a non-believer can appreciate. Immense respect to the wit in so many turns of phrase and carefully chosen, positioned words, like inventions and incantations. These words hold glimpses of what this reader treasures in great poetry, great writing: a wisdom of complexity, a messiness of living in the world, the warmth of surrender to life. Pure feeling.

- Benjamin E. Morris


Written like a confession, Aleah Dye ties together threads of trauma and faith, apathy and atheism to create a miracle of resurrection. This chapbook is a hymn for the godless, the faithful, and everyone who has ever felt forgotten.

- Ben Riddle


Aleah Dye uses her poems to artfully navigate between ideas of belief and disbelief. Her work asks us to consider the fluidity of God, how God might not exist in the most traditional sense but could exist within the people who love us. God could be your mother, your lover, or even yourself. The possibilities are endless. The poems play with religious imagery in skillful and exciting ways. Aleah references proverbs and other aspects of the Bible, but she adds her own spin to them. These revisions evoke an array of feelings in the reader, mixing joy with sorrow and confidence with fear. Often, it feels like the speaker of the poems is speaking to God directly. The speaker asks God the question, "where were you when I needed you?" And if there is no reply to that question, perhaps it's best to live our lives without waiting for the answer.

- Catie Wiley

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Thursday, April 13, 2023

The 40 But 10 Interview series: Zary Fekete


I had decided to retire the literary Would You Rather series, but didn't want to stop interviews on the site all together. Instead, I've pulled together 40ish questions - some bookish, some silly - and have asked authors to limit themselves to answering only 10 of them. That way, it keeps the interviews fresh and connectable for all of us!

Today we are joined by Zary Fekete. Zary…has worked as a teacher in Hungary, Moldova, Romania, China, and Cambodia…lives and works as a writer in Minnesota…has been featured in variations publications including Zoetic Press, Bag of Bones Press, and Mangoprism…has a debut chapbook of short stories coming in February 2023 from Alien Buddha Press…enjoys books, podcasts, and long, slow films. Twitter: @ZaryFekete

Why do you write?

I started seriously writing in 2020 as part of therapy for alcohol addiction. Alcohol had been a very life-consuming thing for me…and I wanted to find something which could replace it. Writing ended up not just replacing alcohol but ultimately being something very therapeutic for me.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I like reading, watching films, jogging, and listening to good podcasts. I think I have close to 100 podcasts I subscribe to on my phone. I don’t have nearly enough time to listen to them all, but I like knowing that they are on there.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I can speak fluent Hungarian. My parents moved to Hungary in the late 70’s to do missions work. I went to Hungarian school for 6 years. Most of my best friends from my teenage years were all Hungarian. It is a marvelously beautiful and difficult language.

Describe your book poorly.

There is quite a bit of literature written for people who are in some part of the self-help, AA, addiction recovery process. I took sentences from some of that literature and allowed the sentences to be inspiration for a series of short stories. The short stories in my book are part of that writing process.

If you could spend the day with another author, who would you choose and why?

This one would be a tie between William Shakespeare and the author of the first five books of the Bible. In both cases there is some ambiguity as to who the authors were.

I won’t rehash the many wild theories involving Shakespeare…but it is likely that there was       some collaboration going on between him and other members of his theatrical troupe (which would have been common practice during that time period)…so it would be interesting to know who wrote some of the famous Shakespearean lines.

There are also some question marks surrounding the first five books of the Bible. Tradition states that Moses wrote them…and he may have. But even then, it would be interesting to ask him where he was when he wrote them and what led to their inspiration.

What is your favorite book from childhood?

I really liked to read Archie comic books. I had so many of them! My favorite proper books were probably the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House series.

What are you currently reading?

I usually have a couple books I am reading. One for the day time and one on my bedtime table for reading just before bed. My day time book is Peter Akroyd’s biography of Charles Dickens. Very thick. The nighttime read is the selected short stories of Patricia Highsmith. I read her collected notebook and diary entries last year and found them fascinating.

What genres won’t you read?

I have never read a romance novel, but I don’t think I would ever definitely say that I WON’T read one. I have never had someone recommend on to me. If someone did recommend one, I would be glad to read it.


What’s the single best line you’ve ever read?

There are many, but perhaps one of the best is the first line of the Gospel of John, “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.” I like it because it touches on faith and also on the power of the word.

Which literary invention do you wish was real and why?

I wish I could speak every language on earth. If there was an invention that allowed me to do that, I would be very excited!


I wrote these 10 stories during the years immediately following my recovery from alcohol abuse. Not every story touches on the topic directly, but there is a thread of struggle woven throughout each piece. They are a short journey through life, faith, and healing.