Other Writing


My Writing Process Blog Tour

Spectacular writer, ideal party date, and fellow Riverhead author Rene Steinke tagged me last week and since I’d follow her anywhere, I agreed to write a leg of MY WRITING PROCESS BLOG TOUR. I’m not a blogger but I might as well play one on my website… And here goes.

1) What are you working on?

I’m working on a novel about three people whose lives intersect over time in physical, emotional, and biological ways. It takes place in two different centuries, and involves science and religion, history and health, evolution and creation, and deeply flawed relationships. Oh, and sex! There’s a lot of sex.

2) How does you work differ from others of its genre?

I’m not sure I can slot myself into a genre to begin with; my first novel was technically “historical fiction” but the issues confronted by the characters are equally resonant in today’s world, so the setting is a lens rather than a prop, if that makes sense. My most recent short story takes place in a near future in which people are able to upload their consciousness and physical contact is increasingly rare. So I bounce around in time and form, but if I had to differentiate my work I would say it operates on numerous levels. Peek beneath the surface of the characters and plot and you’ll find a series of undercurrents running there. Like sand art, but less messy.

3) Why do you write what you do?

Because I can’t get it out of my head any other way, I suppose. I’ve always been fascinated by what I avoided learning about in my youth: biology, technology, realms that seemed mysterious and out of reach because no one in my life had any relationship to them. My parents were older than most of my peers’ parents, and we had few living relatives or ancestral narratives. Our urban neighborhood rang with languages other than English. And I read stories until my eyes ached. As a result, perhaps, I am obsessed with science as a metaphor for transformation and spiritual evolution; intrigued by the workings of memory and history; a fanatic for beautiful sentences in any language, and a total sucker for a good story.

4) How does your writing process work?

I’m a collagist. I collect boatloads of information and details about my characters and the worlds they inhabit, much more than is reasonable or even advisable, and assemble them into ramshackle, nonsensical scenes and chapters, and then slowly pare back and rearrange until the pieces fit. I’m not organized enough to manage all the threads I begin, and I often go off on tangential dead ends, but eventually it comes together. At least, I hope it does.

Coming next week… all your blog tour fantasies fulfilled! By the wickedly funny Courtney Maum and the deeply wise Maria Mutch.

Courtney Maum is the author of the novel, I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You, out now from Touchstone Books. The humor columnist behind the “Celebrity Book Review” series on Electric Literature, a frequent contributor to The Rumpus, and an advice columnist for Tin House, she splits her time between the Massachusetts Berkshires and New York City. She’s also the author of the chapbook “Notes from Mexico” from The Cupboard Press. Read more of her work at CourtneyMaum.tumblr.com or find her on Twitter @cmaum.

Maria Mutch is the author of Know the Night (Simon & Schuster), a debut memoir about a boy who doesn’t speak, a 1930s Antarctic adventure, and jazz. Know the Night was chosen by Oprah.com as one of its “Memoirs Too Powerful to Put Down.” Mutch’s essays and fiction have appeared in Poets & Writers, Guernica, Bayou Magazine, Literary Mama, The Ocean State Review, and Necessary Fiction, among others. Born and raised in Canada, she lives in Rhode Island with her husband and two sons. Learn more at http://www.mariamutch.com, and follow her on Twitter @maria_mutch.

Read more

Backseat Striver
, Redbook

There was the hum of the engine, the whoosh of the heater. We rounded the corner. My contraction peaked, and I put my hands down just in time. 

Read more

Something So Nice for Nobody
, Guernica

He reached over, still not looking up at me, and put his other hand over mine, just for a second, like we were a team. He kept it there just enough for us both to take a breath.

Read more

The Pursuit of Joe Kahn
, Ballyhoo Stories

Joe studied the sharp angle made by her neck and chin and wondered which of the dead couple in their fast boat had been her friend, or lover even.

Read more

No Bottle Feeders, No Spankers
, Salon

One begins to wonder how a working mother could ever forgive herself, or even be friends with these other mothers.

Read more

Blackout ’03: Your Turtle Needs a Place to Rest
, Lost And Found: Stories from New York

The full moon lights the dark bridge. The East River is full of moonlight. People on the bridge are looking at the stars.

Read more

The Crying Gene
, Salon

“Who died?” I demanded. My heart pounded in my bony chest. People around me were stumbling, laughing, drunk. It was late at night.

Read more

My Grandfather’s Village
, Salon

The men had formed a semicircle and were arguing and frowning and shrugging, their hands flurrying the air.

Read more
before and after cover image

Maybe a Girl Who Loved the Ocean
, Before and After: Stories from New York

We know better than anyone that a name alone is only a doorway to the vast corridors and haunted rooms of a human life.

Read more

Other Media


A Thin Line

An MTV campaign to empower young people to identify, respond to, and stop sexting, digital harassment, and cyber-bullying.

Learn more

Think HIV: This is Me

A documentary comprised entirely of video vignettes filmed by young people infected with or affected by HIV, 25 years after the first diagnosis.

Watch video

Egg The Arts Show: The Egg Lady

Part of Egg online, the companion site to the award-winning PBS series, the crotchety, provocative Egg Lady fostered public dialogue about art.

Learn more