Interview with Chila Woychik

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

German-born author and editor Chila Woychik is at home hiking in adjacent woods or regarding coyote calls at night. Her literary efforts have been acknowledged by Emrys Journal (forthcoming), Pithead Chapel, Stoneboat, Prick of the Spindle, and others. She occupies the near-space of another human and keeps numerous animals, including sheep and ducks, just outside her windows. Her lyric essay “A Place Called Place: Surrounds” appeared in our Autumn 2015 issue.

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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?

Chila Woychik: As a child, I learned both German and English, having been born to a German mother and American father. Even though the bilingualism of everyday life changed for me once we reached America, my parents still spoke to each other in German on occasion, and from that, I believe, I glimpsed the nuances and beauty of spoken language. My childhood books were a dictionary and a set of encyclopedias, beyond what we received from our small town Illinois schools, and I relished each new section, each new word, as I moved through the entire set. I wrote my first poem in third grade; it was about spring, of course, and probably birds. In high school, I took every English, “office,” and writing class I could and loved every single one of them, in large part due to our fantastic teacher, Elaine Lowry. Then I set aside creative diversity for a while but took it up again at 34 after surgery on a herniated back disc. Again another long lull in serious creative pursuits.  It wasn’t until 2013 that I discovered the literary journal market, so I’m definitely a late-emerging writer to this scene. The thing, person, who nudged me to finally and irrevocably cultivate literary writing was Annie Dillard’s book Holy the Firm. I read it and something died inside, while something else sprang wonderfully to life, something far far better. Continue reading →

Interview with E.E. King

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

E.E. King is a performer, writer, biologist and painter. Ray Bradbury calls her stories “marvelously inventive, wildly funny and deeply thought provoking. I cannot recommend them highly enough.” Her books include Dirk Quigby’s Guide to the Afterlife, Real Conversations with Imaginary Friends and Another Happy Ending. She has won numerous awards and been published widely. She has worked with children in Bosnia, crocodiles in Mexico, frogs in Puerto Rico, egrets in Bali, mushrooms in Montana, archaeologists in Spain and butterflies in South Central Los Angeles. Her short story “The Grammarian’s Grimoire” was published in our Autumn 2015 issue.

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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?

E.E. King: I wrote when I was very young, but left the pen, and computer, to pursue ballet, theater, painting and biology. About 2002 when I began writing seriously, daily. I was extraordinarily fortunate to have Ray Bradbury as my champion and mentor. He had been in my father’s writing group and I visited him weekly for many years until his death. His greeting was always, “Have you written today?” I can still hear him saying; “I am your Rabbi and your Priest. This is your temple. Now go forth and WRITE!” I have always been a vociferous reader, and I was lucky to have grown up being read to and told stories. I began by writing a children’s book—a story and novel. Then I wrote stories—hundreds of stories—before moving on novels. Continue reading →

Interview with Jean Davis

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

Jean Davis lives in West Michigan. When not writing, she can be found playing in her garden, enjoying a glass of wine, or lost a good book. Her novel A Broken Race is now available, and her short fiction has appeared in Bards and Sages Quarterly, Acidic Fiction, Tales of The Talisman, The First Line, Allegory, Isotropic Fiction, Liquid Imagination, and more. Upcoming publications include two short fiction stories in Caffeinated PressBrewed Awakenings II anthology. Follow her writing adventures at www.jeanddavis.blogspot.com. Her story “Kick the Cat” appeared in Issue 1.2 in November 2015.

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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?

Jean Davis: If we’re to go back to the spark, I’d have to say it was my fourth and fifth grade history teacher who accepted my short stories on the sly and wrote encouraging comments on them, sneaking them back to me tucked between my regular assignments. I don’t recall exactly how we came to this secret arrangement, but the fact that she wasn’t an English teacher, so there wasn’t that pressure, and that she was an adult who liked what I wrote, was very exciting.

I wrote on an off, more so in high school and into my early twenties. And then I had kids. I spent most of their year early years plugging away at various major rewrites on a single novel as time allowed, which if you have young kids and a job, you understand is about ten minutes a week in a state somewhere between exhaustion and asleep.

It wasn’t until 2005 that I found my way to fan fiction where I again got a taste of feedback and encouragement, not that those two things were often hand in hand or very helpful. The search for more productive criticism led me to a critique group. There, I started writing seriously and learned a lot. I’m still learning a lot, seven years later. Continue reading →

Interview with Joe Baumann

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

Joe Baumann received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where he served as the editor-in-chief of Rougarou: an Online Literary Journal and the Southwestern Review.  He is the author of Ivory Children: Flash Fictions, and his work has appeared in Tulane Review, Willow Review, Hawai’i Review, and many others, and is forthcoming in Jelly Bucket, Lunch Ticket and others. He teaches composition, literature and creative writing at St. Charles Community College in St. Charles, Missouri. Baumann’s story “The House on the Edge of the Canyon” appeared in issue 1.2 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?

Joe Baumann: I can’t remember the exact moment at which I started writing stories, but I have a distinct memory of writing something in first grade. I was living in New York, and in elementary school we had a program—looking back, it feels like magic that this was a thing the school could do—where every student was asked to write a short book that would be published as a hardback. I have little memory of what that book was about (I’m sure my parents have it shelved away somewhere), and I don’t distinctly remember having a deep love of writing before that, but perhaps that’s because I have a very blurry sense of my memory before that moment (my first five years of life are spotty and bleary, as young memories tend to be). That, however, was certainly a major starting point for me. Being able to hold, in my hands, my own work, made me feel immediately empowered as a writer, even at that age. I had been a reader for all of my childhood—I devoured Goosebumps, The Boxcar Children, and the Clue books, even at that age—and somewhere inside, consciously or unconsciously, having that item in my hands made me feel ready to be a part of that world. The rest, I suppose, is history. Continue reading →

Interview with Terry Barr

Terry Barr’s essays have appeared in The Bitter Southerner, Red Savina Review, Full Grown People, Hippocampus, and will soon appear in South Writ Large and The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. He has a new essay up at Melange Books. His essay collection, Don’t Date Baptists and Other Warnings From My Alabama Mother, was just published by Red Dirt Press.

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

Terry Barr: I think I’ve always written, but when I got to 9th grade composition, something different happened. My teacher taught us Shakespeare, and then my 10th grade teacher let us write fiction. I read one of my stories to the class, and my best friend—a much better writer than me, I thought—looked back at me in a way he never had before.  But back to 9th grade—that was the first time I really kept a journal. Each day at the beginning of class, we would write “non-stops,” five minutes of intense writing where the only rule was that your pen could not leave the paper. I kept those writing notebooks for years, and employ that method in my writing classes, only I force them to write for longer periods without stopping—maybe 20 minutes.

But I didn’t think a lot about my own creative writing until I joined a writing group in grad school, at the University of Tennessee. I wrote a story about the first time I saw the word “fuck.” My father slapped me for saying it, and then I saw bats circling our favorite neighborhood oak tree. Something about those moments and images cohered into a story back then that I later revised—one of my very first published Creative Nonfiction pieces.  That publication was four years ago, and I have since published over 100 other CNF stories, all using events, moments from my past.  So, journals, bats, the word “fuck” and non-stops. That did it for me! Continue reading →

Upon Writing 150 Rejection Letters

In the third week of January I attended the ConFusion science fiction convention in Novi, Michigan. As cons go this is one of the smaller gatherings, and the mix of panelists and attendees seems to skew toward the professional. In addition to fans, authors and writers of all varieties, there were editors, publishers, marketers, etc., with most wearing more than one hat. As a secretary/chief operations officer/editor/editor in chief, I get how this works.

Last week I sent out the last 75 rejection letters to authors who had submitted work to issue 1.3. To give some perspective: For our first issue we had around twenty-five submissions. Forty writers and artists submitted to issue 1.2; and 1.3—the current issue—saw 175. We can thank DuoTrope, NewPages and Poets & Writers for the bump in visibility.

Why do I mention these two facts together? Because one of the convention panels was titled “The Business of Rejection”. Not all—indeed, not even the majority—of panels at this convention are specific to genre. With careful planning an event like ConFusion can be used as an intensive educational course on the business of publishing.

Having been on the receiving end of no small number of rejection notes, I now find it interesting to be the person handing them out. Here are some of my notes, cleaned up and made relevant to our journal:

  • Don’t take rejection personally. The fact that your submission is not a good fit for this venue at this time does not mean that it won’t work somewhere else.
  • Rejection of a single piece is not rejection of your entire body of work. Unless, of course, this is the only thing you have ever written and submitted.
  • Don’t necessarily edit based on the feedback of a single rejection letter. Each editor will see something different. If you get half a dozen rejections of a poem, and each has the same comments, then maybe take another look at their suggestions.
  • The job of a writer is to write. As an ancillary benefit you may get published, but first and foremost, write for the sake of writing.
  • Rejection can mean different things. A flat “No” means that your work in no way matched the criteria, needs, or taste of the venue to which you submitted. A “No, but please submit again” could mean this one piece was not quite right, or that there were more acceptable pieces than room in the journal, and for whatever reason your work simply didn’t make the final cut. “Please revise and re-submit” (usually accompanied by suggestions) means the editors do want to publish this piece, but it needs a little more refinement.
  • If you get feedback with your rejection letter it means that your work had enough promise for the editors to pay extra attention and offer some guidance.
  • “Rejectomancy” is the dark art of sussing out what is actually being said in a rejection letter.
  • In aggregate, rejection letters can be as useful as writing courses for refining talent.

So thank you to everyone who has submitted work to The 3288 Review, whether we printed you or not. Every piece we read broadens our minds and helps us improve our editorial skills.

Interview with Lisa Gundry

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

Lisa Gundry is a nurse, an avid motorcyclist and artist. She is passionate about crafting new things from old – whether it’s making poems from memories, a light fixture from a rusty bucket or earrings from scraps of leather. She placed 3rd in the adult division of the 47th Annual Dyer-Ives Poetry Competition. She has written for Rider, a national motorcycle magazine. Her book of poetry, A Crowd of Sorrows was published by Caffeinated Press in November of 2015. One of the poems therein was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She’s in love with Grand Rapids, Michigan, and has lived there for 15 years with two kitties and a Triumph Bonneville. Two of her poems, “Learning to Swim with Daddy” and “Visitation”, were published in our inaugural issue in August 2015.

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3288 Review: When and how did you first start writing poetry? Was there a single moment or event which sparked the creative urge?

Lisa Gundry: I began writing poetry as a result of my work with another poet in my writing group. Her depictions were so clear and focused that for the first time I realized how much could be communicated with a poem. I’d been working on a memoir in essay form for years but couldn’t seem to find a way to tell the story that spoke to all the ways in which I experienced it. Poetry allowed me to capture intense feelings and moods in the way I remember them—like snapshots in time. So in the fall of 2011 I began writing poems about my childhood. Within weeks, this method of documenting my felt experience continued to call out to me and I began writing about other painful life events that needed a voice—my divorce and the death of my father. While poetry isn’t as natural to me as narrative writing or even expository writing, which I do in my work as a nurse, it has become a purer form of writing. I find I can express so much through the use of form, metaphor and meter. Poetry has allowed me to encapsulate an experience and in so doing, has freed me- both in the writing and the sharing of the experience. Continue reading →

Interview with Roel Garcia

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

Roel Garcia is a transplanted Texan, now living in Holland, Michigan with his wife and children. Formerly a journalist for the Holland Sentinel, he now teaches composition at Grand Rapids Community College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Some of his work can be read online at roelsramblings.blogspot.com. His personal essay “My Father, the Stranger in the Room” appeared in our inaugural issue.

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3288 Review: How and when did you first start writing fiction? Was there a Eureka! moment, or was it more of a gradual process?

Roel Garcia: My affection for writing fiction began at an early in life, probably by age thirteen. When. I discovered Stephen King’s novels while in junior high and my imagination took off. Since I was interested in horror movies, horror novels complemented that love for being creeped out.

What discovering King did, though, was open a door to writing. Yes, I imaged horror sequences from his novels, but I also started creating some in my head. My own little horror stories started being played out.

It took about a year or so before I actually started to write down some of these tales on paper. These early stories were hand-written either in pencil or pen, usually one a few pages in length. These early stories came out more like a scene rather than an actual complete short stories. It was more exploration than anything on my part.

These early tales lacked character and plot but I kept at it. In the meantime, I kept reading King’s work over the following few years. It is no coincidence that many of these early tales resemble King’s writing. I had not yet developed my own style and imitated what I read. I was getting a grip on writing when at age fifteen something happened that altered my life—due to a virus, I lost a majority of my eye sight. Continue reading →

Interview with Gilbert Prowler

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

Gilbert Prowler is a freelance writer and independent filmmaker who has spent most of his life working, looking for work or running down checks. He was born in Brooklyn, New York at a time when you could use a public restroom without having to pass through security, the pornography was usually hidden in the attic by your old man and Pluto was a planet. His travels have taken him to the Alaskan oil fields, upriver past the French Foreign Legion in Africa as well as Hollywood, California, all of which required working in unforgiving environments with an odd lot of sorts. Gil’s credits include NBC’s “The Tonight Show”, BET’s “Comic View” as well as Oscar and Emmy nominated productions. You can find some of his work on his blog, baconplant.com.   He currently lives in California with his wife, three children and a brown lawn. We published his short story “The Walk On Bye” in our inaugural issue in August 2015.

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3288 Review: How did you first decide to be a writer? Was there a particular moment or event which started you down this path?

Gil Prowler: Although there are some “firsts” you don’t forget (and I think you know what I’m talking about) there are others you don’t remember, and deciding to be a writer is one of them. But I can recall when I realized that words could bring about wildly opposite reactions within the same room of people.  When I was about eleven or twelve my parents went on a trip to Europe and I was being warehoused at summer camp. One evening my bunkmates and I presented a skit that I had written in front of all of the campers and counselors at the talent show. Halfway through our seemingly popular act the head of the camp came onto the stage and herded us all off.  He then admonished us about the nature of our content, a string of double entendres, few of which at that age I understood anyway, repeated in front of the mostly appreciative crowd.  Tellingly, my reaction wasn’t one of regret but of accomplishment. Although that happened years ago I think that was when I understood how words, written or spoken, mattered.

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Interview with Morgen Knight

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

Morgen Knight is an award-winning horror/thriller writer whose short stories have appeared in numerous publications. She is a mother of two, lover of the macabre, and enjoys vampire hunting. You can find her in Kansas City writing short stories and her novels. Her short story “Lessons of My Brother” appeared in our inaugural issue. You can read more of her work at her website (morgenknight.wordpress.com) or on Facebook.

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3288 Review: How did you get your start writing? Was there a particular event or moment which inspired you?

Morgen Knight: Since childhood I’ve always been reserved and demure—Holding a lot of things in. Writing is an escape for that. It lets me live any way I want, say the things I couldn’t, and in some ways control the outcome. My whole life has had events that fuel my writing. They say “write what you know” and that’s exactly what I do; I just fictionalize it. I grew up writing my feelings instead of expressing them, and now I convey them through fiction.

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