In 2007 Maria Gagliano and I reached out to C.K. Williams for an interview. It was for our second issue of Slice. When he heard that the theme of the issue would be “heroes,” he suggested we publish a little piece he’d written that had been waiting for a home for some time. In honor of C. K. Williams, we wanted to share that piece with you this week.
The 5th annual Slice Literary Writers’ Conference is in two days, and we’re so excited about the amazing community of writers and publishing professionals that is about to crowd into our corner of downtown Brooklyn. As we count down, we chatted with Tin House editor Rob Spillman about his work in both magazine and indie book publishing. We’ll hear more from Rob on Saturday at our panel Where They’re Looking for You: Literary Magazines and Indie Presses. You can see the full panel schedule here.
At Tin House, what are you looking for when reading unsolicited submissions? Do you just get a feeling when you know something is top notch?
My simple answer is that I am looking to miss my subway stop. I want the work—fiction, poetry, nonfiction, haiku, whatever it is—to be all that can possibly exist for the time I am reading it, to be so authoritative that only that writer could have written it.
In the opening of his NPR book review of Katherine Fawcett’s The Little Washer of Sorrows, Jason Heller writes that the book “is not what it seems.” Halfway through the third page of the first story of the collection the reader gets a heavy sense of this, and even though the tale clearly breaks from any reality you or I might recognize, you just have to know what’s going to happen next. This is true of pretty much every piece in the collection, including a short one called “Cannonball,” from the perspective of a kid whose mom is giving him some bad news. Have you ever bothered to consider bad news from an eleven-year-old’s point of view, since you were eleven? Afraid to go down that path? Indulge yourself.
That’s what Fawcett has opted to do—at least as far as her writing goes. She started her career in sports reporting, moved toward freelance journalism and commercial writing, and by motherhood/age forty decided to give those fiction voices in her head a chance. I was able to ask her about what it was like to prepare stories for a collection, how her previous writing experiences aided her when it came to working on a book, and how she can take something so basic as an elderly couple on vacation and make them both more real than you’d ever considered and more real than you’d ever want to consider. Meet Katherine Fawcett.
Marketing: an incredibly important department in the publishing world. But what, exactly, does the marketing department do for a title? Or for the author of that title? And what can you do for the marketing department when it comes to your book?
We spoke with Miriam Parker, the Deputy Marketing Director at Little, Brown, to get some insight on how she approaches her marketing work, and what she hopes you’re willing to do to help her help you get your book out into the world of readers and bookstores.
With the publication of her debut novel, The Beautiful Bureaucrat, Helen Phillips has been compared to a host of literary masters: Kafka, Davis, Calvino, Atwood, Saramago, Borges, and more. Take note of the breadth of that list. Clearly, by evoking so many great writers and not just one, Phillips has created a work very much her own. The Beautiful Bureaucrat is at once surreal and familiar. It is the story of Josephine, a young woman who moves to a city with her husband. Josephine finds work at The Database, which seems, at first, as mundane as it sounds. But she soon discovers that she has become part of something more sinister than she could ever imagine. I spoke with Phillips and her editor, Sarah Bowlin, about memorable characters, the creative process, unsung heroes in the publishing industry, and more. For more from Phillips and Bowlin, check out our upcoming writers’ conference. They are both lined up to take part in panels.
As we continue to prepare for the Slice Literary Writers’ Conference happening in Downtown Brooklyn on September 12 and 13, we’re thrilled to give you an advance introduction to another one of our panelists.
Adina Talve-Goodman is the managing editor at One Story, a fellow lit mag that we at Slice have long admired and love to have as part of our conference year after year. With One Story, that’s what you get every three to four weeks: one really great story, packaged in one tastefully designed and easily transportable issue. No author gets published twice with One Story, and no reader gets let down by the content. As a transplant to the New York lit world from St Louis, MO, Adina is still pleased with her decision and delighted by the writers she works with. She’ll be on our Where They’re Looking for You: Literary Magazines and Indie Presses panel on Saturday, September 12.
Ask any two literary agents how they spend their day, and you’ll get wildly different answers. But even if they go about their work differently, they’re all rooting for the same outcome: to discover incredible new writers in their submissions. We spoke with Erin Harris, literary agent at Folio Literary Management, about how she approaches the imperfect art of finding new talent. Writers, if you’ve ever submitted your work to Erin, know that she reviewed it with a hopeful eye. Erin will share more about her quest for great new writers on our A Day in the Life panel at the Slice Literary Writers’ Conference in Brooklyn on September 12. You can find the full panel lineup here.
Steven Wingate’s short fiction has appeared in Slice issues #3 (“In Translation”) and #12 (“Obsession”), including an audio excerpt in “In the Telling” featurette here. I’ll be exploring Thirty-One Octets: Incantations and Meditations (WordTech/CW Books, 2014), which is Wingate’s second collection of poetry, with this self-proclaimed genre nomad.
Patricia Park’s debut novel, Re Jane, is a modern-day retelling of Jane Eyre. The story moves from the heart of Queens, New York, over to Brooklyn, and as far away as Seoul. Park’s protagonist, Jane, is insightful, sensitive, and funny. But the entire cast of characters in this book are fully rendered and thoroughly entertaining, from Jane’s overly direct uncle, Sang, to the academia-entrenched professors who invite Jane to live with them as an au pair. I spoke with Park and her editor, Pamela Dorman, about writing, editing, the publishing process, and more.
The first time I cried in public, I was on the 6 going uptown just pulling into the Bleecker Street stop.
It was the summer of 2012—my first New York City summer, sandwiched between my two years of grad school in Los Angeles—and I was blissfully ignoring the question that was so quick to fall off people’s lips.
What are you going to do with an MFA in Creative Writing?