Flying over South America
Photo by Michael Podlasek Kent
Belgrano, Buenos Aires
Sea-creature-esque peeling paint in the Smith-9th train station -Photo by Michael Podlasek Kent
I am beyond thrilled to announce that Lanternfish Press is publishing my debut novel, Dirty, in late 2017 or early 2018. Dirty is a magical realist work about a teenage runaway whose father is disappeared during Argentina’s Dirty War.
The seedlings of this book emerged long, long ago, in 2001. And I worked on the first draft in fits and starts for years until I decided an MFA at the University of Washington would help me get it done. Then, mid-way through the program in 2010, Michael and I managed to travel to Argentina. (There was a pitfall to super cheap plane tickets; I wrote about it for Airplane Reading.) At graduation, my thesis advisor David Bosworth compared the process of finishing a novel to the gestation of a whale. Fast forward to 2017. Not sure which beasts gestate for 15 years. But this labor of love will see the light of day!
Lanternfish is based in Philadelphia and makes gorgeous, genre-blurring books like Vikram Paralkar’s The Afflictions and Christopher Smith’s Salamanders of The Silk Road. The moment I read Lanternfish’s cred0, I knew it would be a good fit:
READ. READ VORACIOUSLY. READ WRITERS WHO DON’T LOOK LIKE YOU. READ FOREIGN WRITERS. READ DEAD WRITERS!
Writing is a conversation. It can offer people who lead wildly different lives a window on each other’s worlds. It can bridge gaps between cultures and gulfs in time, overcoming unbearable solitudes. We tend to click with writers who’ve grappled with many stories and whose work is informed by that broader perspective.
I am so delighted they agreed.
My short story “Old Boyfriends” is in Propeller Magazine this week. Here’s how it starts:
It’s four p.m.: the sun is gone.
Sandra, a graduate student in archaeology, lurches forward with the bus along Avenue du Parc.
“This roof’s all bone,” Sandra says, rapping her knuckles to her skull.
Back in my MFA program at the University of Washington, I took two “creative writer as critical reader” classes (my favorite classes from the program) one after the other, in poetry with Heather McHugh
and then prose with David Bosworth
, my adviser. Heather brought in a translation
of Anton Chekhov’s story “Gusev
” that she’d been working on with Nikolai Popov, a prose-bone to throw at the small contingent of prosers in her class. At first, I bristled against the story, feeling disoriented in its dark, suffocating setting. But the ending was wonderful and the more I read it, the more I loved the whole thing. I loved seeing how the story opened up with Gusev sinking in the ocean among the sharks and the pilot fish and how the light in the sky shifted to green, to violet, to gold, to rose. In David’s class, we were invited to choose a short story that we wanted to study deeply and either imitate or take its structure and themes and write a story we’d already been wanting to write within that structure or launching off of it somehow. I chose the latter, among other things making Gusev’s ship into Sandra’s city bus and kind of letting the story take over from there. Dan DeWeese
, the editor of Propeller, had a couple wonderful suggestions that ultimately took the story away from the exercise and made me excited about the story all over again, since writing that first draft back in 2010.