Interview with Hannah Ford

This is one of an ongoing series of interviews with contributors to The 3288 Review.

Hannah Ford grew up in Coldwater, Michigan, surrounded by cornfields and books. She graduated from Hope College in Holland, Michigan with a major in Creative Writing and is currently pursuing her MFA in fiction at the University of South Carolina. After obtaining her MFA, she intends to continue writing, pursue her doctorate in prose, and ultimately teach at the collegiate level. She has been published in Saw Palm, Lipstickparty Magazine, Lunch Ticket and Opus. More of her work can be found at fordcommahannah.com. Ford’s essay “The Buried Sawmill” appeared in issue 1.3 of The 3288 Review; her story “Sound Disappears” appeared in issue 1.4, and her story “De Capo” was printed in issue 2.1

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3288 Review: When did you first become interested in writing? Was there a specific person or event which served as a catalyst?

Hannah Ford: I’ve always been interested in writing, because writing goes hand and hand with reading. My parents literally taught me to walk by holding a book across the room from me, and since then I was—and still am—a voracious reader. In younger school years, I remember being the only student actually excited for essay day, one of the few who couldn’t wait to turn in a book report or begin another. Nonfiction literature analysis lit me up—but then I took a creative writing course in college. My first CW class was Creative Writing Nonfiction: the Personal Memoir. In all honesty, it was all of the training that I had that specifically prepared me to write this particular essay. I enjoyed the memoir class more than I had expected; learning the craft of writing challenged both my creative and my academic sides, and this discovery was the reason that I switched my major to a Writing Emphasis instead of a Literature emphasis. Since beginning my amateur writing career, nothing else satisfies or invigorates me the way that putting a pen to paper, slaving over a particular descriptive sentence, or crafting a complex, dynamic character does.

After that first CW course, the rest of my classes were in Fiction. I recently accepted an offer of admission from the University of South Carolina; come August, I will be pursuing my MFA in Creative Writing—Fiction, as well as serving as a Graduate Teaching Assistant.

3288 Review: Your essay “The Buried Sawmill” transposes some west Michigan history with some deeply personal events from your own life. What was your experience writing it, and how did it evolve during the writing?

Hannah Ford: I began this essay not knowing where it would take me—I wanted to explore man’s role in nature, but I had little else in mind for direction. My first draft was, no doubt, a jumbled mess of half-finished ideas, and out of my first attempts rose three strong themes: the persistence of nature, my father’s soul-altering experience in the outdoors, and my own redemptive experience. One theme was grounded in a concrete location with a history, one was grounded in the past, and one was my individual growth. I then separated these three ideas and wrote individual essays; to meld them into this completed braid essay, I literally cut the pages of the essays apart and sorted out the paragraphs as I felt they flowed.

The three themes coincided because they were all, in some way, my own (experience); whether writing about the dunes I had walked, the struggles I had worked through, or the relationships I had seen redeemed, this essay is my story. It evolved, ultimately, in recognizing that and in allowing myself to be the thread throughout each part of the braid.

3288 Review: Your write in a variety of styles and topics—essay, creative nonfiction, short stories, etcetera. Who are your influences right now? Who are you reading?

Hannah Ford: I’m currently reading Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead; I just finished The Orphan Master’s Son and The Screwtape Letters, as well as a collection of short stories. I suppose that answers your question better than any explanation could: I write in a variety of styles and topics because, clearly, I read in a variety of styles and topics.

I’ve been deeply influenced by the writing of Nicole Krauss, Louise Erdrich, Tim O’Brien, Elizabeth Strauss, and E.J. Levy. I cannot limit my influences to just those names, but I’ll spare you the complete and lengthy list. How lucky we are to have so many brilliant contemporaries—I’ll never have enough time to discover them all.

I’d be remiss if I neglected my most notable influence, Susanna Childress. My writing would be remedial, unrefined, un-encouraged without the hours and eons she invested in me while I studied at Hope College.

3288 Review: Your short story “Sound Disappears” uses a wide variety of musical terms and notations to provide nuance to the narrative. How did this come about? Are you also a musician?

Hannah Ford: I’ve played piano since I was ten, and out of that appreciation for piano came the main character in “Sound Disappears.” I’m not nearly as talented as the protagonist, but I do have enough knowledge to love the language of music. It’s a particular joy to take an interest of my own and flesh it out into a complete character, one consumed by that interest and complex in her own right. That’s one of the best parts of writing—developing a fictional person who is rooted, in some way, in truth.

3288 Review: Has any of your writing led you in an unexpected direction? How did you respond?

Hannah Ford: My writing has often led me in unexpected directions—and it’s these stories, poems, narratives that are the truest. In fiction: It’s happened more than once that I’ve written a story and, usually prompted by outside input, have then re-written the story from a different perspective, a different time in the main character’s life, etc. These restructured second (or third or fourth or fifth) drafts end up as the final finished draft, because they’re written when I know my character as I would know a friend, having spent time with them. One of my favorite pieces (“De Capo”—issue 2.1) was written about a minor character in “Sound Disappears” (issue 1.3). I didn’t intend to write “De Capo,” but when I finished “Sound Disappears,” that particular minor character had become so familiar and real to me that I had to flesh him out in his own story. That story, too, went through multiple drastic revisions, all leading in unexpected directions.

In nonfiction: I wouldn’t necessarily say that my nonfiction goes in an “unexpected” direction; I’d say it often goes in an unexpectedly vulnerable direction. In “Buried Sawmill,” for example, I didn’t intend the research aspect of the piece; when I was revising, a professor mentioned the mill near Saugatuck, and after researching it the theme that emerged fit almost seamlessly with the rest of the essay. What surprised me more, however, were the sections where I wrote candidly about personal struggles. I had intended the piece as a reflective nature piece, but it became a self-reflective and nature-related piece. I can’t help but color creative nonfiction with my own life experiences and perspectives; the experiences and perspectives that emerge, though, aren’t always what I intended to divulge (which is why I submit far more fiction pieces for publication than I do nonfiction).

3288 Review: Are you going to continue to explore the world of “Sound Disappears” and “De Capo?” Have you considered expanding these stories into a full novel?

Hannah Ford: Yes, I’m planning to continue to write interrelated stories that are linked to “Sounds Disappears” and “De Capo.” That will likely be my thesis at the University of South Carolina: a full-length manuscript of linked short stories, centered around the characters I’ve written about in “Sound Disappears” and “De Capo.” I’ve written a few other pieces connected to those characters; they’re not quite publishable, yet, but they’re on their way.

I’m excited to see where this set of linked shorts takes me. As I mentioned, even within these two pieces I was taken in a direction I hadn’t planned. I’m looking forward to further developing other characters within the world I’ve begun to form.

3288 Review: What are you working on now? Anything scheduled for publication in the months ahead?

Hannah Ford:  I just had a fiction piece published at Lipstick Party Mag (online) entitled “How to Raise Her,” and they’ve recently accepted a nonfiction piece that will be published at some point in the next month or so. I’ve been writing rather sporadically this summer—mostly fiction, some poetry. A handful of the stories have some potential to be developed and published, but most were just practice and writing for the sake of writing.

Interview with Nick LaRocca

This is one of an ongoing series of interviews with contributors to The 3288 Review.

Nick LaRocca‘s stories and essays have recently been featured in Valley Voices, Per Contra’s, The Flagler Review, Outside In Magazine, Steel Toe Review, South85, and the Milo Review, as well as Rush Hour: Bad Boys (Delacorte Press), Mason’s Road, and the Beloit Fiction Journal. His short story “Gestures” (Lowestoft Chronicle) was nominated for a 2014 Pushcart Prize for Fiction. He is the recipient of the Robert Wright Prize for Writing Excellence and an Associate Professor of English at Palm Beach State College. He lives in Boynton Beach, Florida, with his wonderful wife and daughter. His story “The Placenta Test” appeared in issue 1.3 of The 3288 Review in early 2016.

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3288 Review: How did you get your start writing? Was there a particular person or event which served as a catalyst?

Nick LaRocca: I’d always written, I guess, even back in high school, so I had a sense that writing was something I wanted to do. I never wrote anything that was any good, but I wrote and I enjoyed the feeling I got when I wrote, which is still a wonderful, supercharged rollick. When I was in college—a music major—I took a creative writing class. You don’t end up in too many things; some of life is random, we know that, and some of life is intentional, and much is in the middle, and I think that’s where I was when I stepped into this class. We had an exercise in the course: picture someone from your high school yearbook and write a description of that person in that picture—only of the picture, and only a physical description. I don’t know that I have the discipline these days to pull off what I did then, though back then I was more interested in proving myself than I am now, which is a different story entirely, but I wrote what was, it was determined by my instructor, a very good description. After that class—immediately after the class—the instructor, a graduate student whose first name was Bruce, pulled aside a young lady who’d also done good work and me. He asked us what we were interested in, and he told us very seriously that we should consider studying writing. A year later, I was in a class with Harry Crews, and to make a long story short—I’m going to write an essay about that time in my life one day, maybe this summer—he took one of my stories and went and read it to his graduate students as an example of how to write. He did that. He actually read it out loud to them. At least, that was what he told us sophomores the next time we met. Then he told me I could go all the way with this thing if I wanted to. Maybe I can and maybe I can’t—I think I can, but it’s been a long road to get anywhere, which is what that essay will be about—but if I can, and if I ever do, and if I can ever say I have, that’s where it started. We’ll see.
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Interview with Howard Winn

This is one of an ongoing series of interviews with contributors to The 3288 Review.

Howard Winn’s fiction and poetry, has been published recently by such journals as Dalhousie Review, Taj Mahal Review (India), Galway Review (Ireland), Antigonish Review, Main Street Rag, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Tole Review, The Long Story, New Verse News, and Wisconsin Review. He has been recommended for the Pushcart Poetry Award three times. He received his B.A. from Vassar College, his M.A. in Creative Writing from Stanford University, and completed his doctoral work at New York University. He has been a social worker in California and is currently a faculty member of SUNY-Dutchess as Professor of English. Winn’s poetry appeared in Issue 1.3 of The 3288 Review in early 2016. 

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3288 Review: You have a writing career that stretches into the decades. How and when did you get your start? Was there an event or person which served as a catalyst?

Howard Winn: I wrote stories and poems in my high school college prep English classes with the encouragement of English teachers, although I was enrolled in the pre-engineering curriculum and planned a career as an Electrical Engineer because in my adolescence it seemed that was what young college-bound males did with their lives, so I applied to colleges like Dartmouth, MIT, and Clarkson, I choose Dartmouth, but World War II intervened and I took delayed admission. College was on hold and I was drafted into the Army Air Corps, which first sent me to technical military schools because of my math and science background, and then assigned me to teach Air Crew personnel in those schools. I wrote nothing but letters home.

I finished out the war in the Western Pacific Theater of Operations, assigned to the bomb group that included the B-29s that carried the A-bombs. The war ended and I came home, disgusted with the engineering technology which my experience told me was being used to make instruments of killing.

Although Dartmouth was ready to take me, I was accepted as a WWII veteran with the G.I. Bill college provisions by Vassar College, my mother’s alma mater, where I could major in English with a creative writing senior thesis. I was fortunate to have English faculty who encouraged my writing, most particularly Dr. Ida Treat Bergeret, who published widely in such magazines as The New Yorker. It was under her guidance that I first published both poetry and fiction in a number of “little” literary journals. She was one of my instructors who suggested that the Stanford University Creative Writing Program should be my next step. Here I was fortunate to have both Wallace Stegner and Yvor Winters as teachers, who also encouraged me to continue writing, as did John Ciardi who was my instructor in a summer session at Middlebury while I was still an undergraduate at Vassar. I could also mention Oscar Cargill in the N. Y. U. graduate program later.

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Interview with Carly Plank

This is one of an ongoing series of interviews with contributors to The 3288 Review.

Carly Plank is a graduate teaching assistant at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She is working towards her Master’s degree in Creative Writing. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Aquinas College in her hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her creative nonfiction has been published in 34th Parallel and her entertainment journalism has appeared in Revue Magazine. She is currently working on a collection of creative nonfiction as her thesis project. Carly’s short story “Voir Dire” appeared in issue 1.3 of The 3288 Review.

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3288 Review: How did you get your start as a writer? Was there a particular event which started you down this road?

Carly Plank: Since fourth grade, I have kept a daily journal, which might be why, when I write fiction, I often gravitate toward realistic fiction. I actually majored in biology at Aquinas College, and I enrolled in a creative nonfiction workshop during my junior year because one of my good friends, Rachael Steil, had recommended the professor. I was very fortunate that my first workshop experience involved generous classmates and an encouraging professor, Dr. Brent Chesley. The entire English department at Aquinas is so supportive. I took more classes with Dr. Chesley and with poet and current Emeritus faculty Miriam Pederson, and they helped me with the process of applying to master’s programs in creative writing. So overall, I have to say that the collaborative atmosphere within the writing program at Aquinas College guided my decision to minor in creative writing there and continue on to the Master’s of Creative Writing program at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

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Interview with Addy Evenson

This is one of an ongoing series of interviews with contributors to The 3288 Review.

Addy Evenson studies acting at the University of Washington. She performs music and models for print in the Seattle area. Her fiction has been published in various literary magazines in the U.S. and U.K., such as Prime Mincer, Bourbon Penn, and The Comix Reader. Her story “Maquillage” appeared in issue 1.3 of The 3288 Review.

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3288 Review: When did you first start writing? What was your inspiration to put pen to paper?

Addy Evenson: I started writing fiction as soon as I could write at all. I preferred imaginary worlds to schoolwork. In the first grade, I went to a private school, on Prince Edward Island. I had a very stern teacher there. I was a little troublemaker in class, and always getting caught. She called me up to her desk after school one day. I remember feeling afraid. She brought out an assignment I had turned in. It was supposed to be academic, but I had turned it into a narrative, all about talking animals. Instead of scolding me, she asked, “Did you have help with this,” and I said, “No,” and she told me, “Whatever you do, you have to promise me you won’t stop writing. You’re going to be a writer one day.” I held on to those words. And I pursued it.
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Interview with Jennifer Clark

Jennifer Clark’s work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize five times and once for the Rhysling Award. Her first book of poems, Necessary Clearings, was recently published by Shabda Press. Her short story published in Fiction Fix received their 2013 Editor’s Choice Award. Clark’s writings have been published in failbetter, Structo, Pacific Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Crab Creek Review, Nimrod, Concho River Review, Ecotone, FlywayEncore Magazine, and elsewhere. Her work has been anthologized in such places as [Ex]tinction & [Ex]tinguished (Twelve Winters Press), Zombies for a Cure (Elektrik Milk Bath Press), and Growing Concerns: An Eco-Horror Anthology (Chupa Cabra House). She recently completed a 26,000-word manuscript for middle school readers who enjoy edgy fiction. Several of her poems were published in the Autumn 2015 issue of The 3288 Review.

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3288 Review: How and when did you start writing? Was there a specific event or moment which sparked your interest in the written word?

Jennifer Clark: I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t interested in writing. I don’t know if I could pin my interest in the written word on any one moment or event. I was in second or third grade when, through school book orders, I purchased Funny Jokes and Foxy Riddles by Allan Jaffee. I must have read that book cover to cover at least a hundred times. When I was eleven I wrote a joke book. I titled it Humor My Mother Doesn’t Appreciate and sent it off to a publisher in New York City. I mistakenly assumed it would be a hit. Instead, a few months later I got my first taste of rejection. On the upper left corner of the form letter an editor had written: “Keep Writing!” I kept writing.

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