24. Let Me Explain You: an Interview with Author Annie Liontas

annie_liontas

Annie Liontas’ debut novel, LET ME EXPLAIN YOU, is forthcoming from Scribner in 2015. Her story “Two Planes in Love” was selected as runner-up in BOMB Magazine’s 2013 Fiction Prize Contest. Since 2003, Annie has been dedicated to urban education, working with teachers and youth in Newark and Philadelphia. Currently she co-hosts the TireFire Reading Series. She lives with her wife in Philadelphia across the street from the best pizza joint [22:38].

 

Visit Annie’s website

Follow Annie on Twitter: @aliontas

Highlights

On writing her novel…

“I worked on it for about three years, but it was during my MFA so in people years, that would have been like five [years].”

“I think all writers… are looking to get blessed or christened. And like, no one really does that.”

On her MFA program…

“Syracuse is wonderful, in that they help support you. You don’t get in there for the contacts. And, you know, nothing is guaranteed. But it was really the relationships that I developed that led to this fortuitous thing.”

On the editing process…

“I found everyone at Scribner to be really in support of the work and not wanting to water it down or change it. It felt like they took the book on because they believed in it and everything they did would only make it better and I should stop being so precious…for me that was such a pleasant experience.”

On the Philadelphia Literary Scene…

“If you’re a writer and you don’t want to be in Brooklyn, then you should probably move to Philly.”

Who’s Who

Syracuse MFA program

Christine Schutt — author of Prosperous Friends

Ellen Litman — author of The Last Chicken in America

Arthur Flowers — Annie’s Syracuse mentor & “Hoodoo visionary from Tennessee”

Sarah Rose Etter — Tire Fire Reading Series co-host

Tire Fire Reading Series Guests: Colin Barrett, Kelly Link, Roxanne Gay, Diane Cook

Bocas Lit Fest — held in Trinidad & Tobago

Closing Quote

“No death for you; you are involved.” –Welden Kees

 

“If there’s a book you really want to read but hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” –Toni Morrison

 

14. Mysticism & Maturity: A Dialogue with Author Stephanie Reents

stephanie_reents

Stephanie Reents is the author of The Kissing List (Hogarth, 2012). Her work has appeared in the O. Henry Prize Stories, Best of the West, Epoch, StoryQuarterly, Gulf Coast, Pleiades, and Denver Quarterly, among other places, and been noted in Best American Short Stories and Pushcart Prize. She earned her MFA from University of Arizona and has been awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, a Stegner Fellowship, and a MacColl Johnson Fellowship for fiction from the Rhode Island Foundation. An Associate Professor of English at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, Stephanie lives in Cranston, RI with her husband and multiple cats.

 

Stephanie’s website: stephaniereents.com

Highlights

On the creation of The Kissing List

“I was sifting through the stories on my hard drive–because I didn’t want to start working something new–seeing if there was anything partially finished that I could attempt to finish. I realized that I had been writing a number of stories about young women, without being fully cognizant of it, and it suddenly made sense to me: Why don’t I have a collection of stories about young women figuring out that decade after they graduate from college?

“It wasn’t a collection of interconnected stories. The connecting of the stories didn’t happen until after the collection had been acquired by the publisher. My editor suggested that I try connecting the stories, which was very psychologically challenging.”

On writing mystical, unreal stories…

“Any writer knows that you have to use your own life for scale… We use the places we know, and we use some of the experiences we’ve had, to create the texture of verisimilitude or believability in a story or novel. So, I definitely draw from experiences I’ve had or places I’ve lived in order to make things feel believable, to give the story the texture of something that’s real, even if it’s obviously not real.” Continue reading