How to Interview a Writer - Aerogramme Writers Studio

A guest post by Kelly Gardiner and Adele Walsh, co-creators of the Unladylike podcast.

Right now, somewhere in the world, there’s a writers’ festival going on or, at least, an event in a bookshop or library featuring one or two writers or illustrators discussing their work and sharing their thoughts. There are dozens of podcasts, YouTube channels, writers’ centres and literary organisations. Never has there been so much talking about writing.

Interviewing writers, or being interviewed about your work, looks easy, but it isn’t – at least, not for everyone. We’ve learned the hard way, by participating in dozens of writer panels – including as chair or MC – and watching hundreds, maybe thousands of events. More recently, we’ve learned an enormous amount from the intimate setting of podcast interviews.

So if you’re a writer or someone who is about to interview a writer, if you’re chairing a session at a writers festival or participating in a panel, here are a few tips on making the most of your moment.

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Hollie Overton - Baby Doll Interview

Hollie Overton is a Chicago-born, Texas-raised writer who has worked on a number of television series including Cold Case, The Client List and Shadowhunters, the series based on Cassandra Clare’s international bestseller The Mortal Instruments.

Hollie’s debut novel, Baby Doll, is out this month. We contacted her to find out more about her experience writing both scripts and books.

You didn’t study creative writing or English Literature at college, but instead acting. Do you think this background as a performer impacts your approach to storytelling? 
Acting was my first love and those skills I learned have been invaluable as both as a TV writer and now a novelist.  I fell in love with performing in middle school and high school.  I learned how to tell stories by analyzing plays, breaking down characters and studying structure. I spent years studying acting and all that knowledge informs everything I write. I visual things that I’m writing, how will it look, is it authentic. The same goes for dialogue.  How would it sound if an actor were saying those words? Even though I didn’t continue my acting pursuits, I’m so grateful for the training and that it led me down this career path.

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The Matador Review

The Matador Review is a new online literary magazine based in Chicago. We contacted co-founder and editor-in-chief JT Lachausse to find what this new publication has in store for 2016 and beyond.

What made you decide to establish the Matador Review?

I had been interested in the literary magazine communities for a while and felt that there was something my team could offer. I won’t say that there was anything missing, because the online and print culture is vast and diverse; however, we wanted to dig a hole – welcomed or not – into both the literature and art world. There are great publications out there, namely The Adirondack Review and Bat City Review, that are unquestionably doing the Magazine Lord’s work; we are just cocky enough to think that we could have a place behind them, if not beside them, or somewhere upon the landscape of what they do and represent. We sat at a little glass table in my apartment and began tapping out questions, ideas, hopes, issues, things like: “What if we were The Paris Review’s ‘evil, rotten twin’?” That’s what really started it. Yes, there are countless houses for alternative art and literature, but we wanted to build something really special of our own. We wanted a style for our magazine akin to the recognition level of, say, The New Yorker or Paper Darts; we believed and believe that there are not enough characters in the magazine world. It’s difficult to really go on about all of the conversations we had during the conception phase without sounding all jumped-up – and maybe that’s because we really are jumped-up about this project – but that’s the nature of this team. We saw enough big and beautiful dogs in the fight that we wanted to jump in with our own scrawny, overweening chihuahua. But enough of the caveats and metaphors; in summary, we want to assemble a publication of “alternative” art and literature, both forms represented equally in quality and attention, and we want the magazine to be of real significance to the communities we are working with.

You describe yourself as being an ‘alternative art and literature magazine’: why alternative?

For every piece of quality art or literature, there is a home. Some “homes” include work that is regionally or culturally inspired, and some are reserved for particular genders, sexualities, or ethnicities. This sort of exclusivity creates an environment for distinct voices, and due to its distinction, these magazines are considered “alternative” (syn: “different”, “nonstandard”). What we wanted to do was to open up a home for art and literature that is, in every capacity, unconventional; this could mean a “fresh” voice, or perhaps a peculiar style, or maybe a bizarre subject that would otherwise struggle to find a place willing to parade it. As stated in our “About” section: “…our purpose is to promote work that is thought-provoking and unconventional; we want the controversial and the radical, the unhinged and the bizarre; we want the obsessive, the compulsive, the pervasive, the combative, and the seductive.” The Matador Review wants all of your redheaded stepchildren, but we want them on a damn good hair day. And they better not behave.

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