Interview with Carib Guerra

Read: “La Goma” and “El Paso” and look for more on Carib Guerra’s tumblr

Natasha Stagg: How long have you been writing?

Carib Guerra: I dropped out of school in the 7th grade.  My mother allowed this with the requirement that I continue reading a great deal of books, and also writing responses to the books as well as stories and poems they inspired.  So I had a lot of free time to choose my life, but also I gained a huge respect for writing as a way of thinking through problems.  Because my friends were in school most of the day I would sit alone for hours at different spots near my house in South Austin.  I’d pick a group of objects like a patch of grass, a puddle, and a rock wall and pretend that I was a very small human living in that terrain, then I’d write stories about the adventures I had there.  Writing’s always been an exploration for me of reality as I’d rather see it.  So, yeah.  I started writing seriously when I was around twelve.

NS: Do you write every day?

CG: No.  That sounds horrible.  I imagine hours alone pacing around my stuffy dark room beating myself up for not being constantly on point.  If by writing every day, I could really be saying: going on walks, taking naps, listening to music, smoking cigarettes, editing old stuff, and staring at the wall–all while taking brief scrawly notes–then yes, I do write every day.

NS: What are your thoughts on “writing on writing?” Ever read the advice other authors give?

CG: I love reading people’s thoughts on their business.  It’s either really insightful or really pretentious and embarrassing.  One of my favorites is On Writing Well by William Zinsser.  He kind of does both.  I’m very interested in seeing how other people conceptualize their writing and then force themselves to do it.  Everybody has different formulas and tricks to get the stuff out.  I wish the ‘secret to things’ was more wild, like, hold one ounce of gold in your mouth while petting a shark.  Then you’ll be a real writer.

NS: Do you have some advice to give?

CG: I used to write really awful poetry, and my stories were poorly structured and predictable.  I had no sense of character or plot, and I used flowery verbiage and cliches hand over fist.  If I had realized how horrible my writing was I would have thrown it all away.  The fact that I had this stubborn bloated self-confidence in my writing drove me to continue, and eventually I reached a skill level that naturally follows practice and routine.  I’m probably still overconfident in my work, but my arrogance has proved beneficial over time so I’ll stick with it.  My advice would be: Always think that you’re better than you are, leave the judgement for retrospect, and put every stupid idea you have down on paper.  Oh, and edit mercilessly.

NS: Who is your favorite author of the moment, and what should we read by them?

CG: Italo Calvino.  Invisible Cities is my favorite.

NS: What is a book that kind of blew your mind, that we’d be surprised by?

Steven Jesse Bernstein’s I am Secretly an Important Man.  I don’t know if that’s surprising.  I think he’s a really intimate and exciting author.  Also, Sartre’s Nausea but all the kids are reading that these days.  You should be cool and read Bernstein.

 

 

Interview with Mark Budman

Mark Budman‘s work can be found on his website, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Blip, and Pank Magazine, to name a few places.

Natasha Stagg: How long have you been writing?

Mark Budman: Since I learned the alphabet.

NS: Do you write every day?

MB: Yes, just about.

NS: What are your thoughts on “writing on writing?” Ever read the advice other authors give?

MB: I suspect that everyone has a style which is best for them, but once in a  while I do read what other people think about the craft.

NS: Do you have some advice to give?

MB: For what it’s worth (see the above) read other people’s fiction (not necessarily meta-fiction) and practice daily. Revise, revise, revise and don’t mince words.

NS: Who is your favorite author of the moment, and what should we read by them?

MB: Gary Shteyngart. Read his Absurdistan and Super Sad True Love Story.

NS: What is a book that kind of blew your mind, that we’d be surprised by?

MB: Super Sad True Love Story. It’s hilarious how sad it is.

Interview with Charlie Hanline

Natasha Stagg: How long have you been writing?

Charlie Hanline: Approximately ten years

NS: Do you write every day?

CH: No, but then I feel guilty

NS: What are your thoughts on writing?

CH: Writing lets you live vicariously those elements that you are unable to experience directly. Writing makes you be more in tune with people and your environment. You are more aware of what you say and do. You notice the details in life. Good writing never hurts another individual.

NS: Ever read the advice that authors give?

CH: Definitely, I have at least a hundred books of writing advice from authors.

NS: Do you have some advice to give?

CH: Never write anything that would embarrass your mama. Never try to hurt another through writing, or any other means. When you stare at a blank page, don’t pay too much attention to the blood draining from your ears, eye sockets, nose, and forehead. Write with passion.

NS: Who is your favorite author of the moment, and why should we read them?

CH: I’ve always enjoyed westerns by Elmer Kelton. He provides thoughtful keltonisms (words of wisdom to live by) throughout his books. I was sorry to hear of his passing last year. He was a great author and a true gentleman. I was also saddened by Tony Hillerman’s passing. He was a great author also. Carl Hiaasen – he’s funny, entertaining and interesting. One other author I’d like to mention is Dan O’Brien. He may not have saved the world, but he sure helped save the peregrine falcon and has helped to restore the grasslands of South Dakota.

NS: What is a book that kind of blew your mind, that we’d be surprised by?

CH: The War Prayer by Mark Twain

Interview with Kulpreet Yadav

Natasha Stagg: How long have you been writing?

Kulpreet Yadav: Eight years, in a serious way. Earlier I was just jotting random thoughts; and it could include anything of general interest. But now I am more planned, better focused and have developed an ability to take it forward where I left, much in the same tone. In short, I am able to sustain my thoughts, over a period of time.

NS: Do you write every day?

KY: Yes, on most days. I would reckon about eighty percent of days. The days I don’t write, I feel uncomfortable.

NS: What are your thoughts on “writing on writing?” Ever read the advice other authors give?

KY: I don’t know, frankly. It can work both ways: sure it is always a good thing to know what others think about your writing, but negative feedback can sometimes puncture the spirit of writing itself. To answer the second part, yes, I have read views of some people. In fact, I am at Zoetrope Virtual Studio, where fellow writers review other’s work.

NS: Do you have some advice to give?

KY: Just one thing: Writing allows you to reach areas and places you otherwise can’t. So, go ahead, write about your world, your ideas, your pains and pleasures. Reviewers may like the work, or may not, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is something that you thought worth sharing has been shared.

NS: Who is your favorite author of the moment, and what should we read by them?

KY: Anne Enright’s The Gathering, Rana Dasgupta’s Solo and Roald Dahl’s short stories. I am afraid I don’t have one favorite author.

NS: What is a book that kind of blew your mind, that we’d be surprised by?

KY: Tough one! As a kid, I was smitten by all the books written by Rene Brabazon Raymond. By the time I was eighteen, I had read almost all of his works. Indira Sinha’s The Death of Mr. Love and Upamanyu Chaterjee’s English August are two books I can say which really blew my mind.

Links to recent works:

Salt River Review

Leaning House Press

Monkeybicycle

Yadav’s Blog


Hint Fiction by Charlie Hanline

Charlie Hanline received his bachelor’s degree in 1972 from Findlay University in Ohio, majoring in Political Science. He was employed at the Pueblo County Department of Social Services for over twenty-five years before he quit to write fulltime. Luckily, he received a pension from work and has a mostly understanding wife. His novel entry, Sarafina, placed second in the 2010 Pikes Peak Writers Contest mainstream category.  His short story “Eminent Extortion” placed second in the 2008 Paul Gillette Writing Contest. Another short story, “Snakes, and Other Friends” placed third in the 2010 Pikes Peak Writers Contest.

The Chair

Functionally, it’s exactly the same chair as the one in the other corner; however, nobody uses this one. It’s strange how something as insignificant as a chair could have that affect on us. My son, my daughters, my grandchildren, even I have avoided it for the last two months since my father’s funeral.
Today, I have no choice. All the other seats are taken. I sigh as I laze into it and in an instant the mythical patriarchal torch passes from father to son by the simplest of acts—sitting.