This is one of an ongoing series of interviews with contributors to The 3288 Review.
Rob Hartzell is a graduate of the University of Alabama MFA program. He lives and works in Morrow, OH. His work has appeared most recently in the Upender, Milkfist, Typehouse and Streams of Consciousness. His story “Leaving Babylon” appeared in issue 1.3 of The 3288 Review. You can find him and more of his published work at robhartzell.wordpress.com.
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3288 Review: How did you get your start writing? What started you on this path?
Rob Hartzell: It seems like I’ve been taking stabs at writing since I was at least 12 or so, from the stories I’d try to write after devouring the latest sci-fi anthology I’d picked up at the local library, to the song lyrics I wrote for the prog-inflected thrash-metal band I was never able to join, to the nigh-obligatory high-school dark poetry phase. But one of the first successes I had at writing was when I wrote an essay in my senior year at Dayton Christian High School, disproving a chapter in a text that was used in our first-semester Bible class. I would have gotten an A for it, if I hadn’t turned it in some two weeks or so late, and both my English and Bible teachers made positive mention of it in class. It taught me the power of writing as resistance, and that was at least a decade or more before I found out that they actually stopped using that text because of my essay.
I went on to write for my college’s newspaper — I even edited the school’s student magazine — but that moment at Dayton Christian was defining for me: to be able to stand up to the school authorities and say “No,” and get away with it? That experience was a taste of something like power, but also something like acceptance, something I don’t think I quite experienced again until I started doing readings of parts of “Leaving Babylon” as a fiction student.