Tuesday, October 31, 2023

What I Know About July Blog Tour


We're happy to help Meerkat Press support the release of their latest title, What I Know About July 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!

Every now and then I manage to talk a small press author into showing us a little skin... tattooed skin, that is. I know there are websites and books out there that have been-there-done-that already, but I hadn't seen one with a specific focus on the authors and publishers of the small press community. Whether it's the influence for their book, influenced by their book, or completely unrelated to the book, we get to hear the story behind their indie ink....

Today's ink story comes from Kat Hausler. Originally from Virginia, Kat is a graduate of New York University and holds an M.F.A. in Fiction from Fairleigh Dickinson University, where she was the recipient of a Baumeister Fellowship. She is the author of Retrograde and What I Know About July, as well as many shorter pieces. Her work has appeared in Hawaii Pacific Review, 34th Parallel, Inkspill Magazine, The Sunlight Press, The Dalloway, Rozlyn Press, Porridge Magazine, LitReactor, BlazeVOX, failbetter, Rathalla Review and The Airgonaut, among others. She lives in Berlin and is also a translator.

I have an ever-growing collection of tattoos, some meaningful and some just things I enjoy looking at, so I won’t bore you with going into every single one here. Sticking to the top of my right forearm, I have a pumpkin and the word “STORIED” in Scrabble letters. Like almost all my tattoos, they’re blackwork. It’s not that I don’t like color, but black goes with everything.


Why a pumpkin? Because pumpkins are awesome! They’re cozy like scented candles and hot drinks, but also have fun spooky vibes. Halloween might be my favorite holiday, but I love pumpkins (and horror movies and scary stories) all year. So it’s also a good fit that my novel What I Know About July is coming out on Halloween.


The Scrabble tattoo was one I wanted for ages. I love boardgames (but HATE learning the rules for new ones), and Scrabble is the best classic game for word lovers. It took me a while to decide what word to get. For nerdy reasons, I definitely wanted one with seven letters – because that doubles your score. I settled on “STORIED” as a play on words with the actual meaning and the sense that writers are full of stories. Because I only have German Scrabble at home and the letter values are different, I had a friend in the U.S. take a picture with letters from her Scrabble set to use for the tattoo.  


Releasing today!

Mystery | Suspense | Contemporary Women

Simon Kemper, recently out of rehab and experiencing moderate success with his band in Berlin, is haunted by a stalker. July appears at every show, sends numerous postcards to his label, and behaves as if she knows him well. Like she owns him. When she suddenly vanishes after one of his performances, Simon becomes the prime suspect. His initial goal is to clear his name, but as he searches for July, he begins a deeper psychological journey. The threads of July’s disappearance turn out to be tangled into every corner of Simon’s life: a trusted band member, a tenuous new love interest, a resentful ex, and the self he’s supposedly left behind. Narcissistic, insecure, and consummately relatable, Simon is the anti-hero of his own life—trying to want to be better; hoping that’s enough.

BUY LINKS:  Meerkat Press | Bookshop.org | Amazon

Monday, October 30, 2023

The 40 But 10 Interview Series: Jade Wallace


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 Jade Wallace (they/them). Jade is a poet, fiction writer, and editor. Their debut full-length poetry collection, Love Is A Place But You Cannot Live There, is forthcoming with Guernica Editions in spring 2023. Wallace serves as the inaugural book reviews editor for CAROUSEL, and is also the cofounder of MA|DE, a collaborative writing entity whose debut collection, ZZOO, is forthcoming from Palimpsest Press in 2025. Keep in touch: jadewallace.ca & ma-de.ca

photo credit: Mark Laliberte

What do you do when you’re not writing?

 Mostly I’m either at my day job at a legal clinic, or at home listening critically to a true crime podcast and waiting for sleep to find me. In between those necessities, I curate and edit book reviews for CAROUSEL. When I have actual spare hours, I usually manage to get through about five pages of whatever I’m reading at the time before my partner tries once again to turn me into a film snob. On our wildest nights we drive around to garage sales or secondhand stores.


What’s the most useless skill you possess?

 I am very good at untying knots. My conscious mind just shuts off and my fingers move with a bodily grace that I do not possess in any other circumstance. Unfortunately there are not as many knots in the world as you might expect, so I rarely make use of this talent.


What is your favorite book from childhood?

Even in adulthood I will gladly reread A Wrinkle in Time, or anything else by Madeleine L’Engle.


What are you currently reading?

 I’m finishing up Cane by Jean Toomer, starting Tear by Erica McKeen, and staring disdainfully at Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, which has been sitting on my coffee table for months now, dog-eared at almost exactly the half-way point.


What genres won’t you read?

 I’ll read the side of a cereal box but I won’t touch military history, sports biographies, or romance novels.


What’s the one book someone else wrote that you wish you had written?

 I am absolutely awed by Shizuko Gō’s novel Requiem. It has such a precise, organic structure. I wouldn’t want to have written it. I wouldn’t want to have had the life experiences necessary to write it. But I do aspire to her level of craft. 


You have to choose an animal or cartoon character that best represents you. Which is it and why?

 I’d like to say that I’m some kind of impressive animal. Perhaps one that can carry several times its own body weight, or is quite adept at using tools. But undoubtedly I’m a koala bear: cuddly but grumpy, bisexual, eats nothing but plants, and wants to rest for about twenty hours a day.


If you could remove one color from the world, what it would be and why?

Brown. It’s immediately depressing to look at, and if you try to mix it with any other colour, the other colour just starts to look brown as well. I’m getting annoyed just thinking about it.


Do you DNF books?

 No. I fall for the sunk-cost fallacy every time.


What scares you the most?

 The most banal and inescapable truth: that I am just an ordinary person—the universe and its creatures do not need me, in fact they scarcely notice me.


Each section of Love Is A Place But You Cannot Live There is a psychogeographic investigation. Two casual ghost hunters on a road trip hear the death rattle of their relationship. Residents of a city’s fringe measure their physical and social isolation. A mother and her adult child have diametrically opposed reactions to their vacation spot. Lovers on a romantic coastal getaway discover how estranged they are from one another. Curious figures begin to embody their environments. Forthright and anecdotal, these poems recount the signals people transmit and receive, and the reciprocal ways we make, and are made by, the places we inhabit.




Jade Wallace’s inventive debut poetry collection reminds us that we are all fundamentally travellers … travel is a mode of movement and critical self-reflection in this extraordinary book.

Adam Dickinson, professor of poetry and author of Anatomic


Firmly anchored in the tradition of the Southern Ontario Gothic, Love Is A Place But You Cannot Live There maps the eerie unmappable … Jade Wallace writes with tenderness, humour, and a haunting perspicacity that is all their own.

Annick MacAskill, author of Murmurations and Shadow Blight


Wallace’s curious, nimble, and nostalgic words land with the halcyon sweetness of Ambrosia salad, the unsettling significance of an abandoned house. There’s music in this phenomenal collection.

Hollay Ghadery, reviews editor for Minola Review and author of Fuse

buy a copy: 


Monday, October 23, 2023

The 40 But 10 Interview Series: Matthew Freeman


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 Matthew Freeman, who's seventh book, I Think I'd Rather Roar, is soon to be published by Cerasus Poetry. Other titles can be found with Coffeetown Press. Much of his work deals with his experiences in his recovery from schizophrenia and his time spent at Parkview Place. He holds an MFA from the University of Missouri-St Louis and can be found on Twitter @FreemanPoet 

Why Do You Write?

Thanks so much for asking! Well, for a really long time I’ve been the type who feels like nothing really happens until it’s written down. I have this instinct to record all the fabulous things I’ve seen and learned. I remember driving around in high school and telling my friend a story when he suggested I start writing things down. It just sort of took off from there.


What Made You Start Writing?

Back in high school I didn’t have too much of an idea of who I was or what I really wanted to do. I had a friend who was really into Jim Morrison and the Doors; I didn’t know too much about them at the time. One day I was skipping class and having a few of my dad’s beers and decided to go see that new movie about the band that Oliver Stone made. I don’t know exactly what happened but I walked out of there a poet, like some huge transformation had taken shape.


How Do You Celebrate When You Finish a New Book?

These days I mostly do my celebrating with a good cup of coffee. I suppose if I’m really glad I might turn on the stereo really loud and blast some old rock song.


What Are You Currently Reading?

 For my novel I’m really getting into the latest Michael Connelly. He’s just the best, as far as I’m concerned. But I also read some books with my friends at Starbucks every morning. I bring some poetry and some philosophy—right now the philosophy is a short book about the consciousness written by this really cool monk. I’m learning a lot!


What’s On Your Literary Bucket List?

Maybe I could see Westminster Abbey! Or walk around where Keats and Wordsworth did! As far as my own career, I’d love to publish a super long book, like 200 pages or so.


If You Were On Death Row What Would Your Last Meal Be?

That’s such a tough question. Maybe surf and turf—a steak medium rare with a lobster tail. But I’d have to have some good mashed potatoes too.


What’s The Weirdest Gift You’ve Received?

I have a really good friend who’s a found artist—he makes cool sculptures out of the interesting things he comes across. He gave me this metal device that looks like it could be an old thermostat from the 1950s—and the company that made it was called “Freeman.”


What Songs Would Be On The Soundtrack Of Your Life?

 I’ll date myself here for sure! Definitely “Sleepwalker” and “I’ve Been Delivered” by The Wallflowers and “Nowhere Man” by The Beatles. “Lonesome Town” by Ricky Nelson. Oh, and “Somebody’s Cryin’’” by Chris Isaac. “Lovesong” by The Cure—I listen to them almost every day.


What’s The One Thing You Wish You Knew When You Were Younger?

That life is long and there’s no hurry! I wish I had taken things slower and enjoyed myself rather than rushing around and trying to fit all this experience in that at the time I thought I must gather about me. My dad always said to go with the flow—but I never did listen.


What’s Your Favorite Book From Childhood?

Oh, I’d have to go with A Wrinkle in Time, no doubt about that. My fourth grade teacher—whom I had a huge crush on—introduced me to the book. At that time I was really into science, I was just starting to try and make sense of things, and that book really fueled my imagination. And I still have the same copy of it after all these years!


The basic conflict in the poems is the poet fighting what is real and what is not real in his brain. We see him going around St Louis struggling to come up with a language that would make sense of his experiences. While somewhat confused, he takes great pleasure in words and the characters he meets on his way.

Matthew Freeman discovered he was a poet when he was ruined with love as a teenager. So began a cross-country journey that would leave him expelled from school and committed to an asylum, diagnosed with schizophrenia. After several years he was able to begin his recovery and finish his degree at Saint Louis University, where he was awarded the Montesi Prize. He is now an MFA candidate at the University of Missouri and was recently honored with their graduate prize in poetry. He continues to be poet in residence at Adapt, Missouri.

buy the book: 


Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Where Writers Write: Claudia Acevedo-Quiñones

 Welcome to another installment of TNBBC's Where Writers Write!

Where Writers Write is a series in which authors showcase their writing spaces using short form essay, photos, and/or video. As a lover of books and all of the hard work that goes into creating them, I thought it would be fun to see where the authors roll up their sleeves and make the magic happen. 

This is Claudia Acevedo-Quiñones. She is a writer from Puerto Rico whose poems and short fiction have appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, wildness, Ambit Magazine, Radar Poetry, and other publications. In 2019, she received an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from Stony Brook University, where she also taught poetry to undergraduate students. Her chapbook, Bedroom Pop, was published by dancing girl press in 2021. In 2022, she was awarded a Letras Boricuas Fellowship by the Flamboyán Arts Fund and the Mellon Foundation. Claudia lives in Brooklyn, New York. The Hurricane Book (Rose Metal Press, 2023) is her first full-length book. To learn more, please visit  www.cacevedoquinones.com.

Where Claudia Acevedo-Quiñones Writes

I moved to NYC in 2006 with little more than a suitcase and backpack. Seventeen years later, I'm still in NYC and most of my belongings fit inside a sedan. Not much has changed about my living situation since I was 18 years old (probably due to the fact that I'm single and make less than 50k in an overpriced city). The main difference now is that I share a bathroom with one stranger as opposed to twenty. Despite my circumstances and the choices that led me here, I deeply want to carve out and nurture a space that is entirely my own, ideally a house. It might take a while to get there, so I make the most of what I can afford, which right now is a room in a shared apartment.


I’m in the process of unpacking–this is my 20th move in 17 years–so there are tools, empty vases, and Christmas lights where books should be. Because I move so much, I make sure to only keep two boxes' worth of books at any given time. Maybe this is a strange thing for a writer to admit.


I did start buying furniture as a way of manifesting a more permanent situation, pieces I know I'd love to have in a real house. My desk chair is one of them. Blue velvet and cane backs make me feel elegant. The desk belonged to a friend who rolled it over to me before he left the city. I removed the wheels and replaced them with wooden blocks. The position of the desk is important. When you work where you sleep, you need to not be looking at the bed, even if the only alternative is staring at the wall.



I hang things up as soon as I move into a room. Photos and prints don't take up too much space, so I keep almost all the letters and photographs I receive. I take them with me everywhere, framing the ones I like best. This piece was made by my friend Tyler. If you sit very close to it, you can't make out that it's actually my face. It serves as a reminder to take a step back if I forget who I am.


I bought the lamp on my nightstand in Queens 15 years ago, and it has stayed with me through 15+ moves, even though it's not the most practical (it gives off a red light; oddly, I've never had to change the bulb!). Next to it is an armchair that I hope will live in my future office. It's perfect for reading and writing first drafts, which I never do on a computer.



One of the lovely things about this bedroom is that it comes with a window that takes up most of a wall and looks over the backyard. After living in a basement for a year, waking up with the sun and being able to take in so much green have been positive for my mental health and overall outlook, which boosts my productivity. Sunlight, backyard access, and central air feel like a privilege.



Most of what I write is centered on the idea of home. I think it’s because I’ve never fully felt at home anywhere. I expect my work to change when I finally stay put somewhere and have the space to be fully myself, to wash over where I live. Until then, this will do.



Monday, October 16, 2023

The 40 But 10 Interview Series: Alex Miller


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 Alex Miller. Alex is the author of the novel White People on Vacation (Malarkey Books, 2022). He is a graphic designer and former journalist who has worked at The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, St. Paul Pioneer Press and Hawaii Tribune-Herald newspapers. His fiction has appeared in dozens of literary magazines, including Pidgeonholes, Maudlin House and MoonPark Review. He lives in Denver.

Do you DNF books?

 Not really. I’m crazy selective about what I read, so I usually have a good idea before I start if I’m going to like it. The last book I didn’t finish was The Tin Drum, about 15 years ago. It wasn’t a problem with the book; it was a problem with me. I was at a dumb point in my life where I’d just graduated from college, and I was working part time at a grocery store and playing a lot of video games, and I forgot how to sit still long enough to get through a book.


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

 I mean, I get published by small indie presses, so my books fly under the radar. I have to beg for reviews, and usually it doesn’t work. In the rare cases when it did, I read and reread those reviews obsessively and cherished every word.


 What is your favorite book from childhood?

 Harriet the Spy. It was the book I would reread every year. I was your stereotypical quiet kid who spent too much time alone with books. Harriet the Spy resonated with me, especially the final section, when Harriet loses all her friends and feels lonely. Looking back, it’s obvious I was a lonely kid, even though at the time I didn’t realize I was lonely. Reading the book helped me recognize what my deal was. It also helped me romanticize my own loneliness in a way that helped me cope, until I grew up a little and started making friends.


 What are you currently reading?

 For Christmas, one of my brothers gave me a college textbook on short stories. It’s great. It’s full of the classics I read back when I was English-majoring my way through college, and a lot of stories I probably should have read but, for one reason or another, never got around to. The other day I read The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin, and it was great. I also enjoyed Saboteur by Ha Jin. Every story in the book is a certified banger.


 What genres won’t you read?

 No limits on genre. I’ll read anything as long as it’s good. I guess I haven’t read a romance novel since high school. My mom and older sister had been reading one, and they thought it would be simply hilarious if I read it too. They told me the romance novel would teach me what women really want. I read it voraciously. The experience taught me an important lesson. If you want to know what a woman (or, for that matter, anybody) wants, you can save yourself a lot of trouble by asking them directly.


 Are you a book hoarder or a book unhauler?

 I used to be a big book hoarder. I lived in a house full of bookshelves, and I kept buying books and reading them and filling the shelves until the house looked like a Barnes & Noble. Then I got offered a job in Hawaii, and I couldn’t afford to ship all those books. I gave everything away except for a few favorites that fit in my luggage. Losing all those books was a bummer, because even now I’ll find myself wanting to look up something, and I’ll realize I don’t have that book anymore. But it was nice to start over. I’ve been building up the collection again, at a slower pace. I bought a new bookshelf last month and am extremely excited to have more space to fill.


 What are your bookish pet peeves?



 What is under your bed?

 All the old DVDs I never watch but won’t get rid of. If you want my copy of Lost in Translation or my Criterion Collection edition of Seven Samurai, plan on taking it from my cold, dead hand.


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

I don’t have one single favorite line to rule them all. But the other day I read Sonny’s Blues, by James Baldwin, and it’s full of great lines.

 A great block of ice got settled in my belly and kept melting there slowly all day long, while I taught my classes algebra. It was a special kind of ice. It kept melting, sending trickles of ice water all up and down my veins, but it never got less. Sometimes it hardened and seemed to expand until I felt my guts were going to come spilling out or that I was going to choke or scream. This would always be at a moment when I was remembering some specific thing Sonny had once said or done.

  What’s on your literary bucket list?

 Fortune and glory. Maybe an agent if I’m lucky.



White People on Vacation captures the hopes and fears of a generation struggling to live meaningfully in the era of late-stage capitalism. The novel follows a group of college students (white) who travel to Hawaii on a vacation (cursed) paid for by their parents (loaded). Alex Miller paints a sun-drenched portrait of the young and upwardly mobile as they attempt to leverage generational wealth and skin color to attain the good life. White People on Vacation is a beach read for socialists, a swan song for human aspiration in the age of climate apocalypse.

 Buy a copy:


Monday, October 9, 2023

The 40 But 10 Interview Series: Laura Nagle


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 Laura Nagle, who is a translator and writer based in Indianapolis. Her translations of prose and poetry from French and Spanish have appeared in journals including AGNIThe Southern ReviewANMLY, and The Los Angeles Review. She received a Travel Fellowship from the American Literary Translators Association in 2020.


Why do you translate?

There are plenty of noble reasons to pursue translation, but the answer I keep coming back to is that it’s fun. As a writer, my doubts about whether a plot or character arc is working can become overwhelming, but when I’m translating, all of that is settled before I begin; I couldn’t change it even if I wanted to! That means I get to focus on wordplay and on the aesthetic aspects of language—the parts of the writing process that are my greatest strengths and that I most enjoy.

What made you start translating?

You know that feeling when you’ve read something fabulous and absolutely must get somebody else to read it? Sometimes the book and the reader I think would love it don’t share a language. It was only a matter of time before I realized that was a problem I could fix.

Describe your book in three words.

Lies. Brazen lies.

Summarize your book using only gifs or emojis.


You have to choose an animal or cartoon character that best represents you. Which is it and why?

I wouldn’t normally presume to answer questions on Prosper Mérimée’s behalf, but I imagine he would have gotten a kick out of Cookie Monster in character as the host of Monsterpiece Theater. I think there’s a sort of kinship between Alistair Cookie and the narrator of Songs for the Gusle; they project the same fragile, unearned authority, and the tales they tell inevitably descend into the same glorious nonsense.

What’s on your literary bucket list?

I’d like to strike a balance between working with contemporary authors and introducing long-neglected works to a new audience. That latter category includes genre-defying books like Songs for the Gusle, which was first published nearly two hundred years ago but is only now becoming available in English. I’m also seeking publishers for works by the likes of Bolivian feminist poet Adela Zamudio and nineteenth-century French novelist Sophie Gay—women who gained prominence in their own countries but were unfairly neglected by English-language publishers in their lifetimes.

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

Absolutely not. I’d be out in the first wave. There’s a character in this book who scares himself nearly to death just thinking that he might be in the presence of a vampire, and he’s the one character I find truly relatable.

If you could time travel, would you go back to the past or forward into the future?

Definitely the past, if only to minimize my chances of winding up in a zombie apocalypse. Mérimée’s characters are dangerous enough.


This is the first complete English-language translation of La Guzla, ou Choix de poésies illyriques recueillies dans la Dalmatie, la Bosnie, la Croatie et l’Herzégowine, which presents a collection of folk literature from the former Illyrian Provinces. Or does it? It contains short pieces drawing from various genres—ersatz scholarly essays, ballad lyrics presented in the form of prose poems, folk tales, a fragment of a stage play—all generously peppered with footnotes explaining the historical and sociological context of these “discoveries.”

First published in 1827, La Guzla purported to be a collection of folktales, ballad lyrics, and travel narratives compiled and translated into French by an anonymous traveler returning from the Balkans. Before long, though, it was revealed that both the stories and their “translator” were the fictional creations of a young civil servant, Prosper Mérimée, who would later become one of the most accomplished French writers of his generation. In these dramatic tales of love, war, and encounters with the supernatural, Mérimée has given us both a treasure trove of “fakelore” and a satirical portrait of a self-appointed expert blissfully unaware of how little he understands the cultures he claims to represent.

About the Author
Prosper Mérimée (1803–1870), a French writer and translator from Russian, was a major figure in the Romantic movement. He is remembered as a pioneer of the novella, with Carmen (1845) and Colomba (1840) figuring among his best-known works. A noted archaeologist and advocate for historic preservation, Mérimée served for two decades as France’s inspector-general of historic monuments.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

The 40 But Ten Interview Series: Teresa Tumminello Brader


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 us today is Teresa Tumminello Brader. Teresa was born in New Orleans and lives near Lake Pontchartrain; the city, the estuary, and its denizens are the source of much of her inspiration. A work of hybrid memoir/fiction, Letting in Air and Light, published by Belle Point Press, is her first book. Her fiction, poetry, reviews, and essays appear in print anthologies and online at MER, Halfway Down the Stairs, Deep South, Lit Pub, Months to Years, and others. Visit her online at https://teresabrader.com/

What made you start writing?

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina caused me to ask myself what I was waiting for in regard to writing. It’s also true that I didn’t feel I had a story worth telling until then. In fact, the first real story I wrote is titled “Aftermath.”


 What do you do when you’re not writing?

Since I was a young child, reading has been my one constant. I read at every free moment. According to my parents, from the time I was in a crib, books were my favorite thing. The story they told was that no matter which way a book was presented to me, I turned it the “right” way, even as a baby.


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

This is my first book. After the final edits were done, I thought I’d celebrate more than I did. I loved the editing process, but it was some of the hardest writing I’ve done and I was tired, though in a good way. I finished at 5:02 p.m. the day of my deadline, ate the dinner my husband had picked up for us, and rested with a glass of wine in front of a sporting event on TV. I don’t even remember what it was.


 Describe your book in three words.

 Secrets crack open.


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

Since I was an adolescent, Shirley Jackson has fascinated me. I might be intimidated by her intellect, her cigarettes, and her cocktails; but I’d love to talk to her about subversive women, as well as the similarities and differences between her New England towns and my Southern ones.


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

Besides Shirley Jackson, whose work I’ve read more than once, Toni Morrison is another favorite. I’ve read all her books at least twice and my favorites are Beloved, Paradise, and A Mercy. Other favorite authors are Dickens, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Ali Smith.


What is your favorite book from childhood?

Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time is a book I’ve read more times than I know. I still have my childhood copy, a hardback in decent shape, though the dust cover isn’t.


What are you currently reading?

I always have multiple books going, but I’ll give you just one: Moira Crone’s The Ice Garden. I wish it were better known. I’m reading it for the second time, and it’s just as disturbing as the first time; maybe more so, because of knowing the unforgettable climax. Set in early 1960s rural North Carolina, it’s the story of a young girl who has to protect her baby sister from a mentally ill, narcissistic mother. It’s insightful and beautifully written.


You have to choose an animal or cartoon character that best represents you. Which is it and why?

I’ve felt an affinity with wrens for a long time. Physically, they’re small, drab-colored, and inconspicuous; but their songs can be complex. I like to go through life unnoticed for the most part; but I strive for complexity in my thinking and writing.


 If you were stuck on a deserted island, what’s the one book you wish you had with you?

Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude would be a good companion. Once I reach its last page, I immediately want to return to the first. I could read it on a loop.


From a double shotgun house in New Orleans comes a true story larger than life. Teresa Tumminello Brader, niece of the convicted art forger William Toye, retells her family’s experience as she discovers her uncle’s misdeeds after decades of secrecy. Personal reflections and newspaper records alternate with a fictionalized reimagining of Toye’s complicated life. On both sides of the story, what emerges is an attempt to honor Louisiana artist Clementine Hunter’s legacy without flinching from the painful realities that come from reckoning with family bonds. Empathetic and honest, Letting in Air and Light will inspire you to look more closely at your own history and wonder what else you might have missed.



Monday, October 2, 2023

The 40 But 10 Interview Series: Clint Margrave


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 Clint Margrave, who is the author of several books of fiction and poetry, including Lying Bastard, Salute the Wreckage, The Early Death of Men, and most recently, Visitor. His work has appeared in The Threepenny Review, Rattle, The Moth, Ambit, and Los Angeles Review of Books, among others.  He lives in Los Angeles, CA., U.S.A.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

 Read, travel, go to the bar.


Do you have any hidden talents?

 If I do, they’re even hidden from me.


What’s the most useless skill you possess?

 Writing poetry.


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

 I’m generally a very optimistic and happy person, even if my poems and sense of humor can seem bleak or cynical.


What’s your kryptonite as a writer?

 Self-censorship or any censorship really.


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

 Money? Writer?


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

 I’m sorry.


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

 Some authors: Pessoa, Thomas Bernhard, Dostoevsky, Celine,  John Fante, Carson McCullers, Gerald Locklin, Tony Hoagland, Houellebecq, Szymborska, Zagajewski, James Baldwin, Albert Camus, Bukowski, Fred Voss, Joan Jobe Smith, Christopher Hitchens, Ralph Ellison, Raymond Carver, Jack Gilbert, Hemingway, Melville, Whitman, Charles Simic, Roberto Bolano, Georgi Gospodinov, Malena Mörling


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

 I already live in Los Angeles.


What songs would be on the soundtrack of your life?

 Anything by The Smiths.



The poems in Clint Margrave's VISITOR travel to distant lands and familiar ones, through museum doors and down the aisles of grocery stores, into the pages of books and along the shared walls of an apartment complex, far out in space and up close in the inner space of love and loss, life and death. VISITOR is a collection that calls on you to let it in.