Archives For hybrid genres

This week’s WordPress photo challenge is saturated. And here’s an image that is saturated in color AND dripping with water: the cover of my new book!

Liliane’s Balcony comes out on Oct. 7 and is now available for pre-order. I would be really grateful if you ordered it. Free shipping, man. Direct from the publisher. They’ll have it in your hands in a little over a week.

LB-FrontCover_lores

Publisher’s Description:

Liliane’s Balcony is a multi-voiced novella-in-flash set at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. Built for Pittsburgh merchants E.J. and Liliane Kaufmann in 1935, the house is as much a character as it is a setting. One September night in 1952, Liliane Kaufmann—tired of her husband’s infidelities—overdoses on pain pills in her bedroom. From there, Liliane’s Balcony alternates Mrs. Kaufmann’s mostly true story with the fictional narratives of four modern-day tourists who arrive at the historic home in the midst of their own personal crises, all of which culminate on Mrs. Kaufmann’s over-sized, cantilevered balcony. With its ghosts, motorcycles, portraits, Vikings, failed relationships, and many layered voices, Kelcey Parker’s Liliane’s Balcony is as dizzying and intricately beautiful as the architectural wonder in which it is set.

How Jac Jemc Became a Writer

November 11, 2012 — 3 Comments

I love to read, and so I want to write things that I would like to read. It’s the only thing more rewarding than reading for me.

Jac Jemc lives in Chicago where she makes monsters and writes fiction and poetry. Her first novel, My Only Wife, was published by Dzanc Books in April 2012 and a chapbook of stories, This Stranger She’d Invited In, sold out at Greying Ghost Press in March 2011 .  Jac’s writing has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, finished 2nd place in the Marginalia College Contest and placed as a finalist for the Rose Metal Press Chapbook Contest and Sentence Firewheel Chapbook Contest.  Her story “Women in Wells” was featured in the 2010 Best of the Web. Jac received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has completed residencies at Ragdale and the Vermont Studio Center. She is poetry editor at decomP and member of the editorial team at Tarpaulin Sky. She has served as a guest editor of Little White Poetry Journal  and and Hobart Web, and worked as a reader at Our Stories and The Means. In 2012 she was the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Professional Development Grant.

Visit her web site: http://jacjemc.com

Read more by and about Jac:

Novel: My Only Wife

Novel excerpt: My Wife, the Weight at Melusine

Story: The Grifted at Collagist

Story: Prowlers at Necessary Fiction

How Jac Jemc Became a Writer

This is the next installment in the How to Become a Writer interview series, which will post here at Ph.D. in Creative Writing every other Sunday (or so) until I run out of writers to interview, or until they stop saying yes. Each writer answers the same 5 questions. Thanks to Jac for saying yes!

1.  Why did you want to become a writer?

When I was in the third grade, I told my teacher my dream was to write a 100-page book. Then I forgot about that for a while, and tried some other things: music and acting, but I continued being a big reader. When I was in college I started writing again more seriously, and I realized how important it was to me, and that I could accomplish what I wanted to express in a way I hadn’t been able to achieve before. The more I read, the more ways of telling a story there seemed to be, and that made writing more and more attractive to me. I was finishing out a degree in theater, but I discovered that I really preferred working alone.  I think I might not be a terrific collaborator because I tend to want to follow through my own idea from beginning to end, and theater had a few too many variables for me. I think the short answer though, is that I love to read, and so I want to write things that I would like to read. It’s the only thing more rewarding than reading for me.

2.  How did you go about becoming a writer?

So all of the things I just said go into the actual steps to ‘becoming a writer.’ But I started a double major in English Creative Writing and worked with some terrifically supportive professors in undergrad. I made a couple independent studies in novel writing and playwriting (which I realized was not for me) that seemed super important to my development. The novel writing independent study was with a poetry teacher, so I was already on the road to hybrids. When I started looking at grad schools, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago seemed ideal because they’re one of the only schools that doesn’t make you choose a concentration. You can take a poetry class and it might be full of painters who want to talk language and you can take a fiction class that’s full of poets, and the world just opens up. Luckily (haha) it was the only school that I was accepted to, so I wasn’t given the chance to mess up that decision. At SAIC, students have the option to meet weekly with advisors, which I found to be the most valuable part of that program.  I started by setting goals for how many hours a week I want to write. I try to stick to a schedule – if not a regular time every day to write, a certain number of hours a week. Of course, life intervenes and messes with the schedule often, but setting that expectation and working for it is what makes me feel like I can call myself a writer. As soon as I stop making that time a priority is when I’m in jeopardy of “writer” not being a word that applies to me.

3.  Who helped you along the way, and how?

Those advisors in grad school were huge helps. They taught me how to ask the right questions, and the right question is usually, “Is this what I want it to be? How do I make it what I want it to be?”  Advisors that were invaluable to me were Beth Nugent, Janet Desaulniers, Carol Anshaw, Ellen Rothenberg, Bin Ramke. I could go on; the whole community was just life-changing. My peers are my biggest motivator now. I’m surrounded by people that write AMAZING work that is exactly what I want to read. I see how hard they work and how true they are to themselves, and I makes me want to work harder.

by Edward Gorey

4.  Can you tell me about a writer or artist whose biography inspires you?

Edward Gorey comes to mind. What an entirely singular vision. He made what he wanted to make even though there was no category for it, and he lived his life in a way that seemed just wholly true to himself, too.  And he LOVED to work! That is so exciting to me.

Eileen Myles, too. Her novel, Inferno is about her life, and she is such an inspiration. She was so fearlessly herself. Patti Smith, too. Lynda Barry. Andy Warhol. All of these people have a way of weaving their work so seamlessly into their lives. That sounds like the perfect world to me, to erase that divide between my creative life and the work it takes to live and keep going.

Book trailer for Eileen Myles, Inferno:

5.  What would you say in a short letter to an aspiring writer?

I’d say: Read. Write exactly what you want to write, even if it seems like a piece of crap while writing it. Learn how to listen to criticism in a way that allows the writing to become better, but learn how to recognize the suggestions you do and don’t want to follow through with. See lots of art and watch movies and be with people and live your whole life. It’s easy to feel like you need to accomplish everything immediately, but you need to live, too.  There is time. So much time. You can be Woody Allen and put out a movie every year, whether it’s good or bad, or you can be Terrence Malick, making a film a decade: whatever works for you. Read and write.

Writing is like breathing.  We all breathe and think we know how to, but only a few of us pay attention to it.  I teach yoga as one of my many jobs and much of the practice of yoga is about breathing.

Joanne Avallon is a freelance writer living in Rockport, Massachusetts. She was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize from Wellesley College and received an M.F.A. from Emerson College. Her work has appeared in Sundog, The Norton Anthology of Microfiction, Smokelong Quarterly, FictionNow, BlinkInk, and other online literary sites. She has read her poetry on National Public Radio. Joanne also teaches American Literature at North Shore Community College and consults for the Clean Air Task Force. She is married, with two children and a 70-pound dog.

Read more by and about Joanne:

Flash Fiction: “All This” & Interview

Flash Fiction: Beauty, Bridge Mix, The Game of Life

Flash Fiction: Mice Cube

Flash Fiction: Kapha

Interview: Smokelong Quarterly

How Joanne Avallon Became a Writer

This is the next installment in the How to Become a Writer interview series, which will post here at Ph.D. in Creative Writing every other Sunday (or so) until I run out of writers to interview, or until they stop saying yes. Each writer answers the same 5 questions. Thanks to Joanne for saying yes!

1.  Why did you want to become a writer?

I don’t know that I had a choice; as soon as I could write, it seemed to me that I should write.  I was a sensitive child and sometimes, for reasons I didn’t understand, I felt my heart was about to burst.  I wrote to find out why.  Poetry fit that purpose because I could ponder one idea – a few lines of verse – for a long time.  When I hit my teenage years, or they hit me, I discovered that I had a knack for telling stories.  When I was sixteen, I remember telling a story to my father – a voluble and busy man – and I had him stuck to his chair until I decided to end the story.  Now that is power.

2.  How did you go about becoming a writer?

I majored in literature in college with a focus on creative writing.  I thought then, and I still think now, that it makes no sense to be a student of literature and not write.  There were so many English majors in my class who had never actually tried to write what they studied so assiduously.  When I graduated, my parents told me that I would starve as a writer and that they would only pay for a graduate degree that would get me a job.  So, I followed the steps of Carlos Fuentes and went to law school and became a lawyer.  I practiced law long enough to earn the tuition for my MFA in Literature, Writing and Publishing at Emerson College.  In the middle of all of this, I got married and had two children.  I was pregnant or post partum for most of time I was studying for my MFA.  I defended my thesis when I was seven months pregnant with my son and endured endless puns and double entendres about that fecund period of my life.  I am glad I got my law degree.  It helped to me be a better writer and has come in handy when I needed to earn some money.  I did find it hard to write with small children and decided those years would be my “stockpile” years where I would develop my writing without worrying too much about publishing.  I am just beginning to get back into the publishing world now.

3.  Who helped you along the way, and how?

Frank Bidart, my poetry professor at Wellesley, was tirelessly encouraging and went over my senior thesis, a book of poems, word by word.  That thesis won me the Academy of American Poets prize.  At Emerson, Pam Painter opened my eyes to the world of flash fiction, which I consider the perfect storm between poetry and prose.  In her class, I wrote “All This,” which is in MicroFiction:  The Norton Anthology of Short Short Fiction.

4.  Can you tell me about a writer or artist whose biography inspires you?

My favorite piece of short fiction is Eudora Welty’s “The Wide Net.”  I had the pleasure of listening to her read it while I was at law school.  When she was done, the reading organizer presented her with a chocolate pecan pie and she said, “A pie is the best payment I ever got for this story.”

I love that story because it is a retort to all the male writers of her generation writing male adventure/journey stories.  That story is about a husband’s journey to find and understand his young wife.

Eudora lived in her hometown or nearby for a good long time.  I grew up in Beverly, Massachusetts and just recently moved to Rockport.  Many of my good friends I knew as children.  There is wisdom to be gotten in letting yourself grow old where you once were young.  I appreciate Eudora’s eye on small town life and on the way time passes.  She also has a wonderful hand with character, drawing them deftly with a few well-written sentences.

5.  What would you say in a short letter to an aspiring writer? 

Dear Friend,

You have no doubt already faced the blank stares of friends in response to your announcement that you are a writer.  Writing is like breathing.  We all breathe and think we know how to, but only a few of us pay attention to it.  I teach yoga as one of my many jobs and much of the practice of yoga is about breathing.  When you focus on your breathing – the simple inhale and exhale – you begin to notice how it makes you feel and how controlling your breath can help control your emotions.  And then you start wondering about breathing itself and about what it means to be alive.

Such a simple thing leads to huge insights.  Writing is simple, too.  Almost everyone in our culture is literate but few stop to focus on writing as a craft, to understand the power of it or the importance of it.  If writing does nothing else for you than force you to lead an examined life, then it’s a fair trade: work for insight.  Be brave and continue.

The other response you will get when you tell people you are a writer is the dreaded question, “are you published?”  This is a rude and inappropriate question asked by someone who doesn’t understand your art.  Always answer “yes.”  If they ask you where, say “The New Yorker” and then ask them what they do for a living.  No doubt they will talk happily about their careers, forget your name and walk away thinking they just had a wonderful conversation with a talented writer.  Do nothing to disabuse them of this notion.

Life is long.  Sometimes writing will come easily; other times it will not.  Be patient with yourself, keep working and remember, the journey is the reward.

Namaste,

Joanne

These days I take rejection as validation: I’m in the game, I’m doing what writers do, and good for me for trying. Rejection of a piece should never be taken as rejection of the whole writer.

Eric Bosse’s story collection, Magnificent Mistakes, was published by Ravenna Press in the fall of 2011. His stories have appeared in The Sun, Zoetrope, Mississippi Review, Exquisite Corpse, Night Train, The Collagist, Wigleaf, and several other journals and anthologies. He teaches at the University of Oklahoma and lives in Norman with his wife and kids.

Web site: http://everythingisbeautifulandnothinghurts.blogspot.com/

Read more by and about Eric:

Book: Magnificent Mistakes

Story: “Trinkets”

Story: “Mallard” in Wigleaf

How Eric Bosse Became a Writer

This is the next installment in the How to Become a Writer interview series, which will post here at Ph.D. in Creative Writing every other Sunday until I run out of writers to interview, or until they stop saying yes. Each writer answers the same 5 questions. Thanks to Eric for saying yes!

1. Why did you want to become a writer? 

When I figured out that being my high school freshman football team’s fourth-string quarterback put my odds of playing in the NFL at basically nil, I had to do something else. Actually, I’m not sure I ever wanted to become a writer, because writing was something I always did. People hesitate to say “I’m a writer” because it sounds arrogant or pretentious, I gather; but, if you write, then by definition you are a writer. And I made stories and poems as soon as I could write sentences. Even before I knew how to hold a pencil, I moved through the real world and the worlds of my imagination simultaneously and more or less constantly. I don’t know that I ever had imaginary friends, but I imagined countless adventures and conflicts with people I knew and with characters from books and TV shows. As a child, I was my own mobile 3-D cinema experience. Later, when I dropped out of high school football, I detoured into acting, took theater classes, auditioned for plays, and began an independent course of study in cinema. But by college, I found acting classes less engaging than English and philosophy. I kept acting but ultimately switched to the English major not because I intended to leave theater but because school was a pastime and lit classes amounted to an interesting hobby. I wrote a lot of terrible poetry in those years, which I mistook for great. But no one ever published it. After college, I fell into journalism to pay the bills. Over time, I grew less satisfied by acting in plays. Even when I acted professionally, acting began to feel like the equivalent of playing guitar in a covers band. I eventually figured out that I was a bad poet, but I didn’t have the stamina for novels. And I didn’t have the technical skill to make movies. I was a writer without a genre, I suppose.

A video reading of “Seagulls”

2. How did you go about becoming a writer? 

In the eighties and nineties I churned out mountains of bad poetry and volumes of intense personal journal entries. Then, around 1998 or 1999, I joined Zoetrope, Francis Ford Coppola’s glorious online writing workshop. There, I fell in with a lively, committed group of flash fiction writers. We spurred each other on, and I discovered I had a knack for compression and vivid imagery. I sent out a few flash fictions, got published, and gradually expanded my work into short stories. I considered flash fiction the “basic unit” of my stories, and you can see that at work in my book. Even the longest pieces are broken into fragments that have their own shape and momentum. Hopefully they work cohesively, as well.

For any aspiring writers who may read this, one obscure masterpiece that uses flash fictions within a larger narrative is Oz Shelach’s “novel in fragments,” Picnic Grounds. I learned a lot from that book. And from Ernest Hemingway and Yasunari Kawabata, too.

But maybe that’s not what you’re after. In my more-or-less daily practice, I got up early, before my wife, and tapped out story after story. I read a lot of magazines and online journals. I started following writers I admired. I went deep with a few (the usual suspects: Hemingway, Vonnegut, Tobias Wolff, George Saunders, Stuart Dybek) then gained an appreciation for the more densely packed stories of Alice Munro and the rich and varied worlds within books by Andrea Barrett and Jim Shepard. I can’t say precisely how these writers influenced me, but whenever I found myself in a jam while working on a story I’d ask what one of them would do in a similar situation. I still do that. It’s a crutch, but it helps. Also, if I just don’t feel in the right frame of mind to write, I start by reading poetry. Good poetry. That almost always works to get me going. I rarely experience writer’s block; but I go through phases when I’m terribly undisciplined. I have to somehow trick myself into writing. Once I start, I don’t stop until I’m out of time.

As for getting published, I sent out my best work as many as thirty, forty, even fifty times—starting with the top tier magazines and working my way down through print and online journals. I did that until each piece got published or I became disenchanted with it. Or both. I try to gauge whether a story fits well with a given publication, but that’s guesswork. I don’t devote a lot of time to fiction market study. I learned from running my own online journal that a rejection really should not come as a blow to the ego. As an editor, I turned down countless excellent stories because they didn’t quite align with my aesthetic for the journal. These days I take rejection as validation: I’m in the game, I’m doing what writers do, and good for me for trying. Rejection of a piece should never be taken as rejection of the whole writer. That’s the best advice I can give to a beginner—well, that and don’t pay for grad school. There are enough fully funded slots in MFA programs that if you don’t get one this year you should keep trying until you do.

3. Who helped you along the way, and how? 

I mentioned Zoetrope: the writers there helped immensely. Closely studying published writers I admired helped. I had one close reading relationship with a peer in grad school, but that faded when I moved away. I have yet to find a true, long-term mentor—an expert reader who believes in me, actively reads my stories, and tells me honestly what works and what doesn’t. I was certain Kevin Canty would become that for me when I went off to grad school, but he went on sabbatical for my first year and we never quite clicked when he came back. Kevin’s a good guy. I admire his work. And he may be the published author out there with whom I—well, my stories—have the most in common. But whatever makes for a good mentor -and-writer relationship, I have not found that. It feels like a myth to me now, one that I may never live. But who knows? I may not be easy to get along with. I’ve got that fatal combination of shyness and confidence that people often misread as arrogance. I’m probably the most neurotic, self-critical person I know; yet I come across as…well, that’s purely speculation. Whatever I am—quiet loner or asshole, or both—I’m kind of out here on my own, as a writer. Which is fine. Kathryn Rantala at Ravenna Press has proven very supportive these past few years, and the book has begun to reach a few readers. That’s all the validation I need.

My acting experience feeds into my writing career in a productive way. It’s been twelve years since I last did a play; but, now that I’m doing a lot of public readings (about 30 in the past year), I can use those theatrical skills to pull off a more dramatic and hopefully engaging reading than your average writer. We writers are often, by nature, quiet, shy, reclusive. And I am. But when I go on stage or walk up to a mic, I know how to perform. So, in that sense, I’ve drawn upon the contributions of a host of mentors and teachers who helped me. My high school forensics coach, Gaye Brasher, has probably done as much for my writing career as anyone else. And the great, under-appreciated theatrical director Murray Ross in Colorado Springs cleared the way for me to find myself over and over again in the plays he directed. It’s strange to make the connection now, as I write this, between acting and writing. I understand characters and character development and even dialog thanks to the theater. Oh, and I had a good friend, Paul Vaughn, who collaborated with me on a few super-low-budget movie projects (see below). He was great. He kept me honest. And I did my best work when I wrote with Paul firmly in mind as my reader. Unfortunately cancer took his life a few years ago. Fuck you, cancer.

MOCK: The Ultimate Mockumentary

4. Can you tell me about a writer or artist whose biography inspires you? 

Well, I can’t get over what Jean-Dominique Bauby did in his memoir, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Bauby suffered from locked-in syndrome when he wrote the book, meaning he couldn’t move his body at all. His mode of communication with the world was an eyelid. Someone would read the alphabet, in the order the letters most frequently appear in the French language, and Bauby would blink when he heard the letter he wanted next.

But it’s not the first-glance inspirational value of his triumph that I take to heart. In fact, I suspect taking inspiration from that struggle is one of the crude luxuries of able-bodied privilege. What inspires me still, after five readings, is Bauby’s evocation of the sensual and emotional details of a life and world from which he was almost entirely removed. I don’t know how factually accurate his memoir is, but the fullness with which he imagines and records his story devastates me. In a good way. So I hold that in mind sometimes when I write, as a kind of ideal to strive toward.

5. What would you say in a short letter to an aspiring writer?

I should write that letter. Now that I’ve become a parent and launched an actual grownup career (I’m a professor—well, a “lecturer”—and for the most part I teach essay writing rather than creative writing), my time and energy for writing have dwindled. Writing these answers has tripled my output for the week. (Did I just type “output”? I’m getting sloppy in my old age.) But in my letter to an imaginary aspiring writer, I would assure that writer that she is in fact a writer, and that her self-doubt is simply a byproduct of the task of writing. (Did I just type “byproduct”?) In a letter to just such a writer, Charles Baxter identifies feelings of inadequacy as “the black-lung disease of writing.” Self doubt is a professional hazard: you will write, and the world will remain indifferent. You will fail. You will learn something new, try something new, and you will fail again. You will feel like an imposter. And this will happen to you again and again and again. And along the way, if you can remember to be kind to yourself and others, you’ll hopefully lead a life worth living. Maybe you should not gamble your entire financial future on the chance that you’ll spit out a bestseller sooner or later. But if you want to write and you care enough to do the work of discovering your blind spots and improving your vision, then don’t give up. And don’t expect success. Redefine success so writing will be its own victory. Each draft is a triumph, even the one where you botch the whole thing. Every rejection is a badge of honor. And every publication is a major milestone along the road. The road to what? Keep going. Find out.

 

A review!

A gloriously long and detailed review of my book For Sale By Owner and Laynie Browne’s The Desires of Letters (Counterpath) was just posted at the awesome site/resource/lit journal, Literary Mama. Here’s an excerpt:

Thus, while the stories are in fact disturbing at times, these disturbances create layers of interest and intrigue. Parker causes the reader to reconsider the things she takes for granted (healthy children, mental well being, family connections) and asks that she appreciate these things a little more, hold them a little closer to her chest.

…Parker’s collection is at once practical and poetic, somber and funny, abstract and exact.

A question!

At the AWP Kore Press 20 Year Anniversary Poetry Reading, an audience member asked, “How can the average reader support independent publishing and women writers?”

The panelists and moderator addressed the importance of buying books, especially from the publisher, and making donations. I was just another audience member, but I chimed in with my own response: Talk about indie books, tell your friends about them, teach them in your classes, write about them on your blogs, interview the authors, link to them on Facebook. If you tweet, tweet about them.

So, in the spirit of buying and talking about books published by indie publishers…

a bag of books!

…here are the books and lit journals that I picked up at AWP:

Irlanda, Espido Freire, trans. by Toshiya Kamei (Fairy Tale Review Press)
— ooh la la, this is pretty, and the opening pages irresistible. Rilke epigraph: “How would I begin to recall you, dead as you are, you willingly, passionately dead? Was it as soothing as you imagined, or was not being alive still far from being dead?” First line: “Sagrario died in May, after much suffering.”

The Louisiana Purchase, Jim Goar (Rose Metal Press)
–stunning cover; tells how we got the moon: “President Jefferson walks off the mound. The Cardinals take the field. Ozzie Smith falls over dead. The crowd falls silent. Phil Niekro throws a ball at the sky. The ball does not return. We call it the moon. It becomes a crescent. When Jefferson holds up two fingers, the moon breaks into the dirt.”

It Was Like My Trying to Have a Tender-Hearted Nature, Diane Williams (FC2)
–i bought this because of the novella-in-flash, and the flash stories with titles like, “Well, Well, Well, Well, Well,” and because it’s Diane Williams

Kino, Jurgen Fauth (Atticus Books, ARC)
— kinda got this as a sneak peek; it looks full of hip german madness

The Book of Portraiture, Steve Tomasula (FC2)
— steve runs the show at notre dame and lives in town; he’s not only brilliant, he’s super kind and welcoming to us iusb folks who always come to his amazing parties

Lizard Man, David James Poissant (Ropewalk Press)
— jamie is one of those people who i hope will remember me when he’s rich and famous

Three Ways of the Saw, Matt Mullins (Atticus Books)
— i interviewed matt here; his book has a beautiful design and i’m excited to read it

When She Named Fire: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry by American Women, ed. by Andrea Hollander Budy (Autumn House)
–i wasn’t exactly planning to buy a poetry anthology, but this one looks great. i love that there are bios and photos of each poet followed by a cluster of poems (not just one), that the poets are all women, and awesome: Lia Purpura, Kim Addonizio, Sheryl St. Germain, Aimee Nezuhukuatathil, Julia Kasdorf, Juliana Baggott, Camille Dungy, Mary Ruefle…

The Desires of Letters, Laynie Browne (Counterpath)
— reviewed this week with my book at Literary Mama (link above)

Love and the Eye, Laura Newbern (Kore)
–i saw her read at the kore anniversary reading and really loved her poems; it was one of the few kore books i didn’t already have

Journals:

Absinthe: New European Writing
Booth
Midwestern Gothic
The Common
Exit 7 (first issue!)

At AWP I got to meet with Kathleen and Abby of Rose Metal Press, who publish amazing, beautiful, and unique hybrid-genre books like these:

They also say super-smart things about the importance of indie-publishing, like this short essay, “On Being Indie,” at The Next Best Book Blog:

Compared to trade publishers, we have more creative freedom because we are independent and a nonprofit and can publish and encourage the kind of writing that we see as ground-breaking and innovative rather than focusing heavily on the marketability and projected sales numbers of any given project. We obviously want our books to sell, but the quality of the work takes precedence in our process of choosing what we’ll publish.

So you can imagine how thrilled I am that they are publishing my book, Liliane’s Balcony, in fall 2013. They wrote up a juicy description of the book to preview their upcoming publications:

Liliane’s Balcony is a novella-in-flash that takes place at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. Built for Pittsburgh merchants E.J. and Liliane Kaufmann in 1935, the house is as much a character as it is a setting. One September night in 1952, Liliane Kaufmann—tired of her husband’s infidelities with a woman named Stoops—overdoses on pain pills in her bedroom. From there, Liliane’s Balcony alternates Mrs. Kaufmann’s mostly true story with the fictional narratives of four modern-day tourists who arrive at the historic home in the midst of their own personal crises, all of which culminate on Mrs. Kaufmann’s over-sized, cantilevered balcony. With its ghosts, motorcycles, portraits, Vikings, and failed relationships, Liliane’s Balcony is as dizzying and intricately beautiful as the structure in which it is set.

Here’s a link to the opening chapter published at Talking Writing:http://talkingwriting.com/?p=640

Frank Lloyd Wright was on my mind because of the book and because I was in Chicago, where he’s kind of hard to avoid. On Sunday, after I had my final coffee-with-a-friend and before I drove back to South Bend, I visited FLW’s home and studio in Oak Park. Here are a few of the like 50 pictures I took. They’re kind of crappy because I used my iPhone and was often rushing to take pics before other tourists got in my frame, and they’re in reverse order so just pretend you’re walking backward through the tour.

Wright's Oak Park house and studio, 1889-1909.

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Love the ceiling lights throughout the house.

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Secretary's desk in the studio office.

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Waiting room to the studio. And also a talking room where they could lay out plans on the table and shut the studio door and discuss the PLANS.

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Side of studio.

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Model of the Robie House.

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Center of studio with hint of the vaulted ceiling. Amazing.

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Yep. Apparently the second floor was originally supported by the chains, but current building codes won't allow it.

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First view of studio. Robie model on left. The desks straight ahead are the ones in earlier photo. Light shining down from upper level windows.

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The children's play room! (There were 6 kids.) Windows on both sides. Grand piano wedged into the wall on the left side of image.

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More awesome ceiling lights. These are in the dining room, which was pretty small and typical of the time.


Living room. Bay window seating.

For Wright, the hearth is always the center of the house and family.