Announcing One Story’s 2014 Mentor of the Year: Colum McCann!

columMcCannOne Story is thrilled to announce our 2014 Mentor of the Year: Colum McCann.

At One Story, we believe that being a part of the literary community should include helping others. In that vein, each year at our Literary Debutante Ball we honor one established author with a “Mentor of the Year” award for their extraordinary support of fellow writers. Past honorees have included Ann Patchett, Dani Shapiro, and Dan Chaon.

Mentoring is the kind of work that happens behind the scenes, but is vital to keep the literary world alive and kicking. It comes in all forms—from teaching, to blurbs, to recommendation letters, to late-night reads, agent advice, one-on-one conferences, career guidance and inspiration. Behind each book on the shelf is an unseen mentor, giving an author the help they need to make their work better, to keep writing when they are ready to quit, and eventually give them a boost over the publishing wall.

Colum McCann exemplifies this kind of gallant hard work, and we’ll be honoring him, along with our Literary Debutantes, on May 22nd, 2014 at the One Story Literary Debutante Ball at Roulette in Brooklyn.  Tickets for the Ball will go on sale on April 10th.

Colum McCann was born in Ireland in 1965. He is the author of two collections of stories and six novels, including Let the Great World Spin and TransAtlantic. He has been the recipient of many international honors, including the National Book Award, the International Dublin Impac Prize, a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres from the French government, election to the Irish arts academy, several European awards, the 2010 Best Foreign Novel Award in China, and an Oscar nomination. His work has been published in over 35 languages. He lives in New York with his wife, Allison, and their three children. He teaches at the MFA program in Hunter College.

Issue #189: Astonish Me
by Maggie Shipstead

189-coverI am not a ballerina. I’ve never had that kind of grace. But I love going to see dancers perform. They have a different kind of relationship with their bodies than the rest of us—a harmony of mind and muscle, spirit and bone. But what happens off-stage, when the tights are off? In our new issue, “Astonish Me,” talented author Maggie Shipstead holds back the curtain to see. Loosely inspired by dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov’s dramatic defection from the Soviet Union in 1974, “Astonish Me” explores the high cost of love and freedom in the beautiful and cut-throat world of professional ballet. Be sure to read Maggie Shipstead’s Q&A with us to find out more about the inspiration behind this extraordinary story, which details the sacrifices, both emotional and physical, that dancers make in search of perfection. Like any athlete, ballerinas push themselves to the edge, then retire before they’ve hit middle-age—when other professionals (particularly writers) are just hitting their stride. So the next time you see a performance of The Nutcracker, be sure to clap extra hard for those snowflakes in the chorus. With each pirouette they are giving their all, even as their moment in the spotlight melts away.

Announcing the 2014 One Story Literary Debutantes!

One Story is thrilled to announce our 2014 Literary Debutantes:

harlem.debs

• Molly Antopol, The UnAmericans

• Rachel Cantor, A Highly Unlikely Scenario

• Amelia Kahaney, The Brokenhearted

• Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You

• David James Poissant, The Heaven of Animals

• James Scott, The Kept

• Ben Stroud, Byzantium

SAVE THE DATE and raise a glass as we toast these seven One Story authors who have published their first books in the past year. The One Story Literary Debutante Ball will take place on Thursday, May 22nd at Roulette in Brooklyn, NY and include music, dancing, food, and specialty cocktails. It is our most important fundraising event of the year. It is also a lot of fun. Sponsorship Tickets will be on sale April 1st. Individual Tickets will be on sale April 10th. To discuss sponsorship opportunities for the One Story Literary Debutante Ball please contact maribeth@one-story.com.

Issue #187:
A Good Problem to Have
by B.J. Novak

187-coverA man leaves Chicago on a train heading for Cleveland at 60 miles per hour. Another man leaves Cleveland heading for Chicago on a train going 85 miles per hour. How long before the two trains cross paths? This standard math question is something we all eventually face in grade school. To solve it, determine the distance (308 miles), the relative rate of the two trains (60 + 85=145), and use the formula Distance ÷ Rate=Time. But what if some of the elements of this equation changed? What if the two people traveling weren’t strangers, but a man and woman who are in love? What if the distance wasn’t 308 miles, but the years since one of them has passed away? What if the child solving this problem learns not math—but how to live a fuller life? All of these questions come into play in our new issue, B.J. Novak’s “A Good Problem to Have.” This short piece begins as a mad-cap lark, when the aged author of our famous train problem arrives and demands compensation from a fourth grade class. But as he settles in and tells his tale, the students soon learn that the truth behind this equation isn’t arithmetic—it’s a love story and life lesson hidden within the numbers. Be sure to read Contributing Editor Will Allison’s Q&A with B.J. Novak about the inspiration behind this sharply-written, funny, curious and moving story. And check out B.J.’s story collection, One More Thing, when it hits bookstores next month.  In the meantime, take out a piece of scrap paper and start crunching those numbers. (The answer is: two hours and twelve minutes. The other answer is: make every second count.)

 

Issue #186: Mastermind by Jen Fawkes

186-coverWho is your favorite Bond villain? Whenever I ask this question, people have their answer ready, as if they have been considering it for years. Some pick the classics from Ian Fleming’s universe, such as Goldfinger (“No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!”), Jaws (mouth of metal) or Oddjob (deadly bowler hat). Some are fans of Mr. Big (“Names are for tombstones, baby!”), Rosa Klebb (killer shoes) or Ernst Stavro Blofeld (stroker of the white cat—later sent up by Mike Meyers as Dr. Evil). In many ways, these “bad guys” are more memorable than the men who have stepped in and out of the role of the hero. But what would happen if “real life” entered into this fictional world of dastardly plans? What if, for example, Dr. Evil got Alzheimer’s? That is the question Jen Fawkes asks in her highly imaginative, satirical and moving story, “Mastermind.” Set in a volcano—a VOLCANO, people!—our new issue is narrated by Carl, the right-hand man and care-giver of an evil menace who is slowly losing his mind. Be sure to read our Q&A with Jen Fawkes to find out more about the inspiration behind this gripping story of fathers, sons, memory and heart-break. And now—back to the volcano! Will Carl be able to keep his boss’s illness hidden from the rest of their evil organization? Or at least hidden long enough to blow up Mt. Rushmore? You’ll have to read “Mastermind” to find out.

Issue #184: ReMem by Amy Brill

184-cover (4)Sometimes I lie awake at night replaying events from the past in my mind. What if I had done this instead? What if I had noticed that earlier? And sometimes—I wonder if I am remembering everything correctly. Go to any family reunion, and you’ll hear a dozen different versions of how Grandma met Grandpa, or who said what at Aunt Reba’s wedding, or where Great Uncle George served during the war. This concept of memory and how it is shared, lost, and re-formed is at the heart of our spellbinding new issue: “ReMem,” by Amy Brill. Set in the future, “ReMem” opens on a world where people no longer rely on their memories alone—instead their brains are synched with a computer system that “uploads” directly online, where people can share their experiences with others, delete memories they wish to forget, or re-live the same moments in the past, over and over. Part love story, part social commentary, and part sci-fi detective story, “ReMem” delves deeply into the ways that we hide and reveal our inner selves, while giving a fresh take on where science and social media are (possibly) leading us. Be sure to read our Q&A with Amy Brill to find out more about the inspiration behind this beautifully-wrought and highly imaginative story. And the next time you login to Facebook, Tumblr, Vine, Instagram or Twitter, you may want to think twice before you hit “upload.”

1 Day Writing Class in Green-Wood Cemetery

history_of_greenwoodSince I began teaching at the American Museum of Natural History, I’ve realized how much an inspirational setting can jumpstart the imagination and create a flurry of new work for my students. Just as artists sketch in museums or on a busy sidewalk, taking a writer away from their desk and engaging them in the world can bring new life to their work. To further this, One Story has decided to host a series of site-specific, single-day writing classes across New York City.

Our first site-specific (and just in time for Halloween!) class will take place at GREEN-WOOD CEMETERY, on October 26th from 1:30pm – 5:00pm. Brooklyn’s largest National Historic Landmark! 478 beautiful acres filled with gothic architecture, American history, and over half a million interred. Our class will include a guided tour of Green-Wood’s highlights, a craft lecture by me (I am from Salem, after all) on how to create characters from gravestones; a reading in the chapel, and a series of on-the-spot writing exercises that will bring your writing back from the dead. Go here for complete details. There is no application–and available spots are first come, first served. We hope you’ll join us!

Write with One Story in Brooklyn!

touch.typingBefore I start editing a piece with an author, I ask them what the seed of their story was. The first thing that got them excited enough to sit down and start writing in the first place. Almost always, that seed is the key to unlocking the inner workings of their story. As an editor, it’s my job to help writers communicate what they are trying to say more clearly. As a teacher of creative writing, I do my best to bring that same level of detail into the class room, so that each student leaves with a concrete plan of how to re-work their material. Through lectures, writing exercises, artistic experiments, and the sharing of ideas, I endeavor to open students to new possibilities in their writing and their creative lives.

This November, I’ll be teaching a six-week Master Class for One Story. This is the first time One Story has offered a class outside of our week-long summer workshop, and the first time we’re hosting a program inside our Brooklyn offices.

The deadline to apply is September 30th. Details can be found on our website.

I hope you’ll join us in Brooklyn. Until then, here’s to the words coming fast and true.

Issue #183: The Signature of All Things

183-cover (360x504) (2)For the past year, I’ve been spending a lot of time at the American Museum of Natural History. I go there for inspiration, but also to teach creative writing—my students happily scribbling in front of a diorama of mountain gorillas, or underneath a skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. When fact and fiction (science & literature) mix, our imagination can blossom in surprising ways. And this is exactly what happens in One Story’s current issue, “The Signature of All Things” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Set in Philadelphia in the 1800s, this vividly-drawn, magically-detailed, humorous and moving story follows the early years of a budding young scientist, Alma Wittaker. Growing up on White Acre, her family’s botanical garden/estate, and encouraged by her parents—who are at turns severe and loving—Alma cultivates a curious mind. She wants to know how things work. But also: why. It is this pursuit of why that determines the course of Alma’s life, as she searches for her place in the world. This story is an excerpt from Elizabeth Gilbert’s forthcoming novel of the same title, The Signature of All Things, and so you—lucky readers—can continue on Alma’s journey of science and discovery when the book hits stores in October. Be sure to read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Q&A with us about her research, and the influence of Linnaeus and Darwin on her work. And the next time you find yourself in a science museum, stop and consider the many people who have dedicated their lives to expanding our knowledge of the natural world. In their own way, both scientists and writers play the role of detective, trying to unearth the truth of our existence in the universe. For scientists it is a factual truth—and for writers, an emotional one. There is a story behind every diorama, each skeleton and diagram of the moon. Look closely at that early botanical sketch of a Red Mulberry leaf. Notice the veins, the shape of the tip. Take out your notebook and pen. And start writing.

 

 

Issue #182: Drawn Onward

182-cover (360x504)When One Story started back in 2002, we made the unusual decision to publish authors only once. There were two reasons for this: 1) To ensure that our magazine would never become an insider/clique. And 2) To give our subscribers an exciting new voice in every issue. One Story has published 181 stories from 181 different writers from around the world, and a big part of why the magazine continues to be fresh and relevant in today’s literary community is because of this guiding principle.

To continue in the tradition of new experiences, we’ve decided to take a step outside our regular format with issue #182, and publish a graphic short story: “Drawn Onward” by Matt Madden. I was first introduced to Matt Madden’s work through his exceptional book, 99 Ways to Tell A Story. Ever since I read it, I’ve been thinking of how literary writing and comics intersect, and I knew that I wanted to run a graphic short someday in One Story.

In “Drawn Onward,” a man and a woman cross paths in a series of chance encounters in the New York City Subway system. As obsessions grow and falter, these characters walk closer and closer to the edge, striking a dangerous balance. With each new panel “Drawn Onward” adds a layer to the puzzle, using a mirrored structure of time and place to illustrate the fragile nature of love, and how we seek each other in our own reflections.

We hope you enjoy this special edition of One Story. Be sure to check out our Q&A with Matt Madden about how he created “Drawn Onward,” especially if this is your first comic/graphic experience. When you’re finished, I hope that you will turn the magazine over and open the pages again. With each new read you’ll notice another detail. Like the wonderful issues we’ve published in the past, “Drawn Onward” weaves together an intricate pattern of words and images. And like the best short stories, it stands alone as a deeply moving work of art.