Interview with Shaun Hamill at The Millions

I’m always on the search for a good monster novel, so when I received an early copy of Shaun Hamill’s A Cosmology of Monsters I was already stoked. The book doesn’t disappoint. It’s terrifying for sure, but it’s also tender. It’s the perfect novel for this time of the year, as we are all preparing for Halloween. It was a treat to be able to talk to Shaun about his debut. He’ll be at my local library in a few weeks, and I’m already looking forward to learning more about Cosmology.

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My July Reading Journal

It’s been HOT this summer. So, it’s been the perfect time to get some good reading in. 2019 continues on with some excellent new releases. Dexter Palmer’s upcoming novel, Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen, is one of the most original and audacious books I’ve encountered in a long while. It leads the charge in a month that delivered multiple enjoyable reads. Here’s my recap of the books I read this July:

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Interview with J Ryan Stradal at The Millions

J Ryan Stradal’s sophomore novel, The Lager Queen of Minnesota, is a book that is ripe for the summer. It’s charming, kind, and full of hopeful. The novel tells the story of three woman who seek to transform the brewery industry in the Midwest. There’s drinks and pies a plenty. This novel should be the target of many, many book clubs in the coming months.

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To MFA or Not to MFA... To MFA

Applying for MFA programs is an intimidating process. Am I good enough? That’s the question that haunts me. A lot. Anyone who knows about writing knows that rejection comes frequently. For me, this summer has been rejection season. I have, I think, four or five different stories out on submission, and they just aren’t landing. I revised them recently and sent them back out, so here’s hoping. I know that many rejections are not about the quality of the work and are, instead, about what a particular journal is looking for. Still, though, it sometimes gets to you. (I have my collection out at a handful of places, and it hasn’t been rejected yet. I’m taking that as good news. And I’m hopeful.)

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Interview with Karen Russell at Chicago Review of Books

Karen Russell and I spoke for about an hour over the phone a few weeks back. Our conversation is one I’ll never forget. We talked about monsters, and our talk helped me channel my ideas for my novel, which I think I’m making progress on. Karen’s my literary hero. The way she balances magic with real humanity is incredible. And enviable.

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Interview with De'Shawn Charles Winslow at Electric Literature

2019 is the best year for literature in a long time. There are so many incredible books out—and coming soon. De’Shawn Charles Winslow’s In West Mills is one of those books. The novel follows the lives of Knot and Otis Lee as they experience life in a rural North Carolina community. Knot is truly one of the greatest characters I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know recently. She’s hilarious. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing In West Mills throughout the year, especially as the book awards start to kick off.

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Interview with Mary Miller at The Rumpus

Mary Miller is one of my favorite writers and has been since I read her novel The Last Days of California. Well, Biloxi is even better than that book. Her latest is a novel about the South and the people who inhabit it. She captures voices so authentically, and the characters she creates are absolutely wonderful. I was thrilled to be able to ask Mary a few questions over at The Rumpus.

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My June Reading Journal

It’s the best time of the year: summer break. For me, that means lots of extra time for reading and writing. Luckily for me, June brought some of the best reads of the year. I can’t pick one highlight, but work from Chris Ware, Julia Phillips, Shaun Hamill, and Casep Cep lead the charge.

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New Story: "Losing Light" at The Cabinet of Heed

"Losing Light" is a story about a boy named Gresh who eats fireflies. No one can understand why, but his unnamed brother, who serves as the story's narrator, has an especially difficult time understanding why Gresh wants to eat these creatures. Gresh obviously hungers for them, but the brother hungers for understanding and, later, for redemption as he struggles in understanding the harsh realities of his world. This is a strange little story, but I'm super proud of it. 

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My May Reading Journal

May was BUSY, so my notes are short. Still, though, I was able to experience some really good literature. Undoubtedly, J. Ryan Stradal’s latest was the best book I read in May. Here’s my recap in reading of the month that was:

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I'm Profiled at Lit Hub Today

When I found out the folks at Lit Hub were wanting to profile me for their “Secrets of the Book Critic” series, I couldn’t believe it. I eagerly agreed, and set out to answer some questions about book world.

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My April Reading Journal

April is usually the busiest and most stressful month of the year for me. 2019 was NOT an exception. Still, I managed to read 7 books, which isn’t too bad. In West Mills is the winner of my month—and maybe of my year. It’s spectacularly good. Here’s a recap of my reading from the month that was:

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Review: Molly Dektar's The Ash Family

Molly Dektar’s The Ash Family is one of my favorite debuts of the year. It’s about cult living, family, freedom, and understanding self. It’s unsettling, but it’s also inspiring in ways. It was my pleasure to be able to review it for the Chicago Review of Books.

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The Pulitzer Prize is Coming...

The Pulitzer Prize is a celebration of the year that was’ “best” literature. It was an absolute pleasure to be able to write about the Prize for Electric Literature. Like I did a couple of years ago, I’ve compiled a list of the 10 most-likely contenders for the Pulitzer.

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New Story Alert: "Those Fantastic Lives" at Syntax & Salt

If writers can pick favorite stories of their own catalog, I’m claiming “Those Fantastic Lives” as mine. I worked on it for such a long time to get it just how I wanted it, and I’m so proud of it. It’s about a young boy and his psychic grandmother. This story looks at issues of legacy and belonging. It’s sad like most of my stories, but it’s also hopeful.

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