Annotated Pages Auction

Bidding is now open for One Story’s online Annotated Pages Auction! We invited writers to hand-annotate a manuscript page from one of their published books and are auctioning off those pages online. Participating authors include: J. Courtney Sullivan, Min Jin Lee, Dani Shapiro, Jim Shepard, Peter Carey, Darin Strauss, Claire Vaye Watkins, J. Courtney Sullivan, Jami Attenberg, Vendela Vida, Michael Cunningham, Karen Shepard, Aimee Bender, and Karen Russell. Own a piece of contemporary literary history and support One Story.

Bidding is open  through 1pm EST Thursday, June 28th. Bids start at just $25. One Story Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and all winning bids are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Visit our auction page for more information, and to place your bids!

Pictured: Annotated page from “Popular Girls” by Karen Shepard, from her collection KISS ME SOMEONE.

Introducing our 2018 “Little Debbies”

This year at the Debutante Ball, along with honoring the three One Story authors who’ve had their first book published during the past year and our mentor of the year, Alexander Chee, we’re also honoring three of our authors who published their first short stories ever in One Story over the last twelve months. Those authors are Sanjay Agnihotri (Issue #236: “Guerrilla Marketing”), Maud Streep (Issue #234: “The Crazies”), and Lucas Schaefer (Issue #225: “An Oral History of the Next Battle of the Sexes”). All three of these short story debutantes (whom I affectionately refer to as our “Little Debbies”) will be joining us at the Ball on May 4th. Recently, I asked them if they had any questions for one another about their stories. Here are the results of that round-robin conversation.

PATRICK RYAN: Lucas, since you’re the first short story deb, chronologically, let’s start with you.

 LUCAS SCHAEFER: Okay, I have a question for Maud. Maud, you handle the passage of time so beautifully in “The Crazies.” When, at the end, you jump years ahead to the narrator’s current life and then take us back to the time of the fire—it’s poignant and unexpected. I’m curious if you knew from the beginning that the story was being told many years later, and how knowing that or not knowing it affected the writing of the piece.

MAUD STREEP: The passage of time was actually the key that let me into “The Crazies.” It was one of those stories that wasn’t working and wasn’t working. The first few endings were dreadful. But about a year in, my teacher at the time, David Gates, took a look at it and suggested that perhaps the issue was that the story wasn’t being told from the right time. That clicked things into place for me, although it took me another year to find the right distance and perspective, and then a couple more years from there until it felt done. So, thanks, David! The core of the story’s action and language remains as it was in the first draft, but without the perspective from the future, nothing added up.

Sanjay, I know you’ve previously said “Guerrilla Marketing” went through many drafts. I’d love to know more about how you came to the story’s structure—did you always know what happened in Los Angeles that left Vikram in the predicament he’s in? Did the reveal of what happened in LA and why it happened always fall where it does now, or did you play with the placement?

SANJAY AGNIHOTRI: Vikram’s back story was tricky. I always knew that he’d end up in NJ after getting kicked out of LA, I just didn’t have all the details worked out in the early drafts. It took some time to get that right. The placement too was challenging—I recast his LA backstory several times, though it always appeared near the end.

Lucas, I’m a boxing fan and can’t wait to read your novel-in-stories about the Austin boxing gym. You mention the book Boxing Shadows by W.K. Stratton as an inspiration. I’m curious to know what other writers—fiction/non-fiction—have inspired both the collection and your writing in general? Also, you mention in an interview with Patrick that you worked out at R. Lord’s Boxing Gym in Austin. I have to ask: have you ever been knocked out? And if so, did you see stars? I got knocked out once, but it wasn’t in a ring, and I never saw stars, only pavement and blackness, and I’m afraid I might be missing out.

LUCAS SCHAEFER: What’s always appealed to me about the boxing gym as a setting isn’t so much the boxing as it is that, in our still-very-and-in-some-ways-getting-more-segregated (racially and otherwise) society, the gym is one of those rare spaces where people of wildly different backgrounds and experiences converge. And not only that, but they’re converging to fight. On purpose! How wonderful and unsettling and bizarre. This is a long way of saying that the books I tend to gravitate toward have less to do with boxing than with the clashing of cultures and identities, from Zadie Smith’s White Teeth to Hari Kunzru’s White Tears to Oreo by Fran Ross, which is what I’m reading at the moment.

And no, I’ve never been knocked out! But that’s not due to my great defensive skills. My workout was all non-contact. I put on all the gear once to spar, and went a couple rounds—with a man who went super super easy on me—and afterwards I was like, “Lucas, honestly. This is not going to end well for you.”

I have a question for you, Sanjay, about the protagonist in “Guerrilla Marketing.” Vikram was an accountant but now makes a living working at a restaurant, a gas station, and, briefly, for Liberty Tax. The portrait is so affecting, in part, I think, because you really go there in exploring the toll that his work and his financial situation take on his body. Could you talk a bit about the role money (or lack of money) plays in your work, and how Vikram’s different jobs informed your understanding of him?

SANJAY AGNIHOTRI: Vikram happens to be educated, but many of the men I write about in the linked collection are not educated at all. Many have overstayed their visas and are scraping enough money to survive and send back to their families. Every day they face the risk of being caught and returned to the most deplorable conditions. Vikram, like all of the men in the boarding house, is obviously broke and his striving for cash is rational—up to a point, he’s got a wedding to pay for, after all. He’s also obsessed, like most Americans, with money as a function of status and self-worth.

In the story, the character of Boss Bhatti is a sort of mini Trump—he’s a bully and con artist, looks slovenly even in a $3,000 Brioni suit. He’s less educated than Vikram, less sophisticated, but still Vikram believes the lie and wants nothing more than to be part of his crew. I mean, Boss Bhatti is definitely the sort of guy who would attend Trump University and not ask for a refund. That said, I don’t judge Bhatti or Vikram in the story. That’s not my job as the writer. I have to take my ego out of it and portray the characters honestly and unsentimentally.

Maud, I read “The Crazies” many months ago and it still haunts, especially the last couple of sentences of that brilliant ending. You mention taking five years to finish the story—were those last couple of lines in the early drafts? They just seem so perfect; like they were delivered to you from the literary gods.

MAUD STREEP: I’m so pleased to hear the ending lines stayed with you—they took a lot of unglamorous work to find. As I mentioned before, I went through a few different endings. Versions of the final lines showed up in the story by the second full draft, but never in the right place—I couldn’t recognize them as the ending until I’d sorted out when in the narrator’s life the story was being told.

Lucas, “An Oral History of the Next Battle of the Sexes” circles around Holly, looking at her from everyone’s point of view but her own. I’m curious whether you ever wrote a draft in which she did speak, or if you always knew she’d be a presence through absence—if that was some of the appeal or challenge in writing the story?

LUCAS SCHAEFER: Great question. The earliest draft of “Oral History” included Holly as one of the interview subjects, but I knew before I got to the end of the draft that she probably shouldn’t be there. What resonates with me about Holly is that she’s basically born to do this one thing—box—but because of her geography and her circumstances, and because she’s a woman, and a lesbian, in a time and place and sport that isn’t “ready” to deal with her, she doesn’t get to do it. I wanted readers to want to hear from Holly and to not get to, and to feel that loss. “Oh, now you want to hear from me?” That’s what I imagined her telling the reporter when he called to ask if she’d participate in the oral history. “Dude, I got better things to do than talk to you. Y’all had your chance.” I might go back to her in another story, though.

PATRICK RYAN: Here’s a question for all three of you—a question I want to ask every working writer these days. What’s your technique for shutting out the world when you write?

MAUD STREEP: At home, I rely on those mockingly titled internet blocking apps, Freedom and Self Control. Since there aren’t yet humiliating apps to block out things like doing the dishes and vacuuming and managing day-to-day family life, I’ve been incredibly grateful for time spent removed from all that while at residencies the past few years.

SANJAY AGNIHOTRI: I have an eleven-month old daughter, and I think I might also suffer from some form of attention deficit disorder, so I’m not sure I ever shut out the world. But I do write almost every day, first thing in the morning when my mind is relatively clear.

LUCAS SCHAEFER: I’m on Twitter too much and have no great secrets, but rain noises help. I get them off a YouTube video that’s ten hours long, all rain, so when I get to the end of the ten hours I can say, “You’ve done good, kid!” and then go back to the beginning.

PATRICK RYAN: I am very familiar with that ten-hour rain video. Okay, one last question for the three of you. What are you most looking forward to about the One Story Debutante Ball?

LUCAS SCHAEFER: Before One Story took a chance on my work, it had been so much rejection. Having the piece out there has been such a boost, professionally and creatively, but being in Texas I’ve never met you, Patrick, or any of the folks who gave me this opportunity. So I’m excited to meet you all and to thank you and to celebrate One Story. And as a Longhorn, I’m happy to be there for fellow Austinite and UT grad Kendra Fortmeyer’s debut, and to honor Alex Chee, who led one of the first workshops I took in grad school and who is so generous with his time and knowledge.

MAUD STREEP: I’m looking forward to seeing the Debs with their mentors. I love the idea of honoring the people who teach and support writers. There’s the enduring myth of the solitary author, but I shudder to think where my writing would be without the generous brains of others.

SANJAY AGNIHOTRI: Hanging out with the generous folks at One Story, and meeting other great writers like Maud and Lucas. Also, if the conditions are optimal, I might bust out some break dancing moves. I won a break dancing contest in Saudi Arabia when I was in the 8th grade, but it was Saudi Arabia and the competition was thin.

PATRICK RYAN: We’re holding you to that, Sanjay. Thanks, everyone, and we’ll see you at the Ball!

Introducing 2018 Debutante: Kendra Fortmeyer

On May 4th, at our 9th annual Literary Debutante BallOne Story will be celebrating three of our authors who have published their debut books over the past year. In the weeks leading up to the Ball, we’ll be introducing our Debs through a series of interviews.

This week, we’re talking to Kendra Fortmeyer, author of One Story Issue #209, “Things I Know to be True” and the novel Hole in the Middle (Soho Teen, forthcoming in September 2018).

High-school senior Morgan Stone is an aspiring artist who has a peach-sized hole in her abdomen, to the right of her belly button. Pushed by her domineering mother, Morgan has grown up visiting countless doctors in search of a cure, believing that revealing her abnormality to anyone will bring heartbreak and rejection. When Morgan goes dancing at a club and unwittingly becomes Hole Girl—internet sensation—she embarks on a journey toward accepting her body and nurturing her own voice, separate from anyone else’s expectations. Hole in the Middle is a provocative exploration of otherness and the courage it takes to celebrate what it is that makes us different.

Hayleigh Santra: Where were you when you found out Hole in the Middle was going to be published? How did you celebrate?

Hole in the Middle had a long, strange road to publication. The first time it really felt real—after the phone calls, the emails, the edits, the breaths held and released—was the day the sale appeared in Publisher’s Weekly. It was the fourth week of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop in San Diego, and though I’d anticipated it for days, waking up to the email from my agent with the link to the announcement broke something open in me. I climbed out of my narrow dorm bed, went for a run, and wept. There was something haunting and lovely about pushing my body through the early morning light beneath the pines and feeling that no matter what, something I’d worked very, very hard to achieve my entire life was coming true.

And then my insane and wonderful Clarion classmates and our coordinator, Shelley Streeby, surprised me with doughnuts. “They also have holes in the middle!” they proclaimed, forever cementing themselves in history as the greatest and kindest group of humans to ever survive six weeks of intensive workshopping together.

(Bonus: when I received my acceptance to One Story, I screamed and collapsed into a pile of clean laundry. Fingers crossed this doesn’t count against my cotillion score at the ball.)

HS: One of my favorite characters in Hole in the Middle is Morgan’s best friend Caroline. She posts sticky notes around their apartment with encouraging, body-positive messages. What motivated you to explore this theme of body acceptance through the experiences of two young women on the verge of adulthood?

KF: Something I love about magical realism is how premise can give rise to larger theme. In this case, a girl with a hole in her stomach creates a space to explore body acceptance and our society’s policing of female bodies, and all of the intersections of feminism and selfhood in between.

But it’s fun, too, right? It’s not all academic—that’s the wonder of magical realism. It’s weird and surreal and filled with opportunities for humor and love. Female friendship is a powerful force. I knew from the second Caro hit the page that she would be like many women I’ve known: wonderful and supportive and kind, willing to pin you down and tell you firmly that you are beautiful, damnit, and stop believing otherwise.

Representation matters. We’ve got plenty of toxic female friendships in books and movies reinforcing the cultural myth that women can’t be friends with other women (because we’re all competing for male attention, right? #thanksfreud). Caro is a loving, open-minded, fierce-hearted teen. When her best friend is anxious about her body, her impulse is to support and encourage and champion. And the novel gets to explore this topic I adore! As it should be.

HS: In Hole in the Middle, Morgan’s mother has trouble accepting Morgan for who she is without trying to “fix” her. In your short story “Things I Know to Be True,” the main character also has a strained relationship with his mother, who is incapable of relating to her son in the face of his mental illness. Can you talk more about your interest in the turmoil that can arise when a parent cannot cope with their child’s otherness?

KF: It took me a long time to date anyone as a teenager—I was the “hopelessly and devastatingly crush on a close friend for years” sort. One day when I was fifteen (desperately in secret love, but apparently quite ace), my dad turned to me and said, apropos of nothing, “Just so you know, if you’re gay, Mom and I are totally okay with it.”

What I said aloud (ugh, Dad, I’m not) was certainly not what I was thinking (OH MY GOD MY PARENTS ARE DARING TO THINK ABOUT MY SEXUALITY THIS IS THE MOST EMBARRASSING THING THAT EVER HAPPENED). It definitely wasn’t, in retrospect, what I should have said. Which is, obviously, Damn, that’s amazing. I love you guys.

All this to say (ironically)—my parents are wonderful, touchingly accepting people. But I can’t stop writing difficult mothers. I suspect this is, in part, an attempt to exorcise my own fear about the mother I might be someday (which is, of course, how I can be to myself – overly judgmental, with love manifesting slantwise as “wanting the best,” or intolerance of imperfection). And, too, literary mothers stand in as social gatekeepers: the intimate expression of the conflicting love and worry, teachers and enforcers of the world’s rules. Maybe someday I’ll write a compelling father figure. For now, though, it’s all mothers.

HS: As someone who grew up in North Carolina, it’s lovely to interview a North Carolinian about her debut novel, which is set in North Carolina (cue Petey Pablo’s “Raise Up”). It’s also refreshing to read about smart, multi-faceted, progressive women who happen to live in the South. How important was it for you to set this story in Raleigh, North Carolina?

KF: Very! Growing up, I saw few literary representations of the place I lived. Though there are exceptions, most Southern literature seems to run the very limited gamut of:

  1. Set in the Civil War,
  2. Fried Green Tomatoes-style (folksy! charming!), or
  3. Deliverance-style (barefoot, backward and terrifying).

The first time I ever encountered the place I lived in literature—the actual place I lived, not a cutesy “y’all come back now”/truck-ridden hellscape of racism and wife-beating—were the early essays of David Sedaris. For a child who grew up in Raleigh, seeing places I knew and recognized (Cameron Village, the Dorothea Dix hospital) in a real book was revolutionary. I didn’t have to live in New York or Chicago or LA to be bookworthy. You could write books about the place I lived and the people who lived there. Those stories were worth telling.

We widely acknowledge now the power of representation in literature—the way a child seeing a character who looks like them can change what they believe possible, can change their life. In many ways, I think of this book as a love letter to Raleigh, a city I no longer live in and miss with my whole heart—a real and beautiful and complicated place, kudzu-draped and evolving. My next book is set in small-town Texas, but I’d love to write more—and read more—contemporary Raleigh novels in the future.

HS: Throughout the novel, Morgan is struggling to discover and protect her voice, as an artist and as a person. There are a lot of outside influences, including her mom and the entire internet, trying to tell her what she should do/be/say. Can you talk about finding your own voice as a writer? What advice would you give to those who are still figuring it out?

KF: Relax. Don’t question yourself. Existential creative anxiety is a sure route to paralysis. It’s normal to fluctuate, to borrow, to evolve. Maybe you just read All the Pretty Horses and all of your sentences want to be a page long and casually name-drop mesquite and arroyos; maybe you just attended a stand-up comedy festival and now all of your characters are cracking jokes about being depressed and smoking too much weed. Don’t worry about it. Just write, write, write and enjoy the ever-changing ride. Your own voice will emerge joyfully from the chaos.

HS: Lastly, what are you most looking forward to at the One Story Debutante ball?

KF:

  1. Publicly wearing the poofiest dress I can fit in an overhead bin,
  2. Seeing what earrings Hannah wears, and, of course,
  3. Meeting the other debutantes (and Alexander Chee, who I’ve Twitter-stalked with fondness and admiration for years)—and all of you.

Hayleigh Santra is a writer living in Brooklyn. 

Introducing 2018 Debutante: Chelsey Johnson

On May 4th, at our 9th annual Literary Debutante BallOne Story will be celebrating three of our authors who have published their debut books over the past year. In the weeks leading up to the Ball, we’ll be introducing our Debs through a series of interviews.

This week, we’re talking to Chelsey Johnson, author of One Story Issue #181, “Between Ship and Ice” and the novel Stray City (Custom House).

In Stray City, the Lesbian Mafia always has each other’s backs. Without them, the only other family that Andrea Morales has is the one in Nebraska that kicked her out years ago for being queer. Her chosen family provides her with the love, support, and stability she needs to survive in Portland. After a difficult breakup, however, Andrea finds herself needing more than just the Lesbian Mafia’s help to get back on her feet. She gets close to musician Ryan Coates, a straight man who she keeps secret from the rest of her lesbian community. When she becomes pregnant and wants to keep the child, Andrea must navigate the tricky politics among her queer friends and learn to come into her own. Stray City is both a vivacious, headbanging ode to the underground scene of ’90s Portland, and a deep exploration of a young woman’s questions on identity and what it means to belong.

Monique Laban: Where were you when you found out Stray City was going to be published? How did you celebrate?

Chelsey Johnson: My partner Kara had just walked into an enticingly fragrant Russian olive tree and stabbed her eye, so I was in the waiting room of a tiny beautiful adobe in Santa Fe, NM, that housed an urgent care. I had just nestled into an armchair by the kiva and opened a book when my phone rang. I saw it was my agent, and I took the call, though I had no idea what he was about to say because he’d just sent it out on submission the afternoon before. When he told me there was already an offer, I whisper-shouted “WHAT?!” and stepped out into the sunshine to hear the details. I couldn’t believe it. Afterward Kara and I went out to breakfast and sat outside and just marveled. I realized my whole life was about to change. The sky was so impossibly blue and clear. But the sky is impossibly blue and clear every day in Santa Fe, so that’s a cheap metaphor.

A few days later I flew to New York to meet with editors, and the deal was sealed when I landed back in Albuquerque, standing outside in a near-empty arrivals area. Kara picked me up and we went to this cafe called the Grove to get food, and as we got out of the car and walked across the parking lot I suddenly just broke down and wept. After all these years when I thought it might never come to anything, this. There are photos of us toasting over our afternoon breakfast burritos, my face blurry with tears and happiness.

ML: In Stray City, Andy navigates the dynamics in both biological family and chosen family, which includes abiding by “rules” or else hiding parts of yourself from your loved ones. In essence, Andrea has to come out multiple times to her families. It’s also a theme that comes up in your One Story story, “Between Ship and Ice.” Could you talk about what draws you to this theme of family acceptance?

CJ: I feel deeply tied to my families—the family I was born into (I am lucky to have a loving and supportive one), my partner and me, my animal family, my friend families, even the temporary mini-families that my classes and students become. Maybe because I didn’t follow the reproductive family track, I wonder if I’m always creating families around me, especially utopian, non-punitive versions of them. Among my chosen family, so many of my friends, especially but not only queer people, come from families that have failed them or hurt them or not allowed them to be who they are. Even in loving and well-meaning families we hurt each other, of course. In my writing, I try to honestly capture the actual complexities of family—how something that is supposed to be permanent and stable can be so fragile, and how we rebuild and remake it in new ways.

ML: The way you approach setting and time in the story is incredible. I loved the way you described Portland in the ‘90s. It was an intense decade for certain culture wars that you explain wonderfully through Portland’s subcultures and the way characters live out their identities and politics so brashly. The novel later shifts from 1999 to 2009 and shows a much tamer, less uptight but no less idealistic Portland. Part of this, I feel, comes from Andrea’s own maturity and motherhood, but there’s also a clear difference in her community. What was it like returning to ‘90s Portland to research your novel, and which parts of it make you nostalgic (or make you happy they stayed in the ‘90s)?

CJ: One of the things I loved most about Portland was its scruffiness, its unpretentiousness—and although it was surrounded by natural beauty it was also cheap, so it was a perfect incubator for DIY culture. If the rainy weather didn’t drive you away altogether, it drove you indoors to make stuff. To make art, you need three things: space, time, and just enough money to live on; and ten, twenty years ago, those things were easier to come by in Portland than they are now that it’s far more upscale. Besides that, I guess the one thing I am genuinely nostalgic about is how analog life was. People showed up for each other. You couldn’t flake by text message. You made a plan and you showed up, in person, no distraction buzzing in your pocket, your focus was solely on the moment. I feel like we spent more time in each other’s live company, reading each other’s faces and tone, interacting in and with varied environments, getting up to good and no good together.

That said, I have no nostalgia for how hard it could be to be queer then. The ‘90s were alive with the most vibrant, earth-shaking queer activism—ACT UP, Queer Nation, the Lesbian Avengers, and others—but it was because LGBTQ people were literally dying by the hundreds of thousands. President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1994, and years later he claimed he did it to prevent an even worse political move, like a constitutional amendment, but at the time it just felt like a big fuck-you. I lived in Portland throughout the Bush years and the wave of anti-gay marriage amendments, including Prop 36, which passed in Oregon, and no matter that I was in this robust queer community, that kind of legislative punishment, being used as bait in the culture wars, creates a constant stress that you become accustomed to just living with but never get over. It’s still not easy to be queer, but at least there’s more of a legal framework propping us up now.

ML: There are a lot of formal elements that you play with in Stray City. The first part of the novel is in first person, the third is in third, and the second part has a first-person narrator talking to “you,” or Andrea. On top of that, you add epistolary touches like emails and postcards, as well as telephone calls, journal entries, notes left in bars and glove compartments, and the official vs. unofficial answers to a Green Card exam. Breaking the prose up in all these ways makes for a very fun read! What made you decide to shape the novel the way you did?

CJ: The formal play came naturally to me as I wrote. I’ve always liked gathering up fragmentary texts—I love lists, notes, dashed-off love letters, quizzes, marginalia, ideas written on receipts or parking ticket envelopes or whatever. I wrote a story once that incorporated worksheets and a word search. The postcard is interesting to me because it’s like the original Twitter or text message: you have this physical space constraint, you can only fit so much into it so you want to make it pithy, and it’s personal yet sort of public at the same time. So that’s how it started, with the postcards Ryan sends her. I thought those would be both alluring to Andrea, because who doesn’t love receiving a postcard, as well as to the reader, because who doesn’t enjoy the voyeurism of sneaking a look at someone else’s postcard? As the novel went on I introduced more and more of those things, partly because Andrea is the kind of archiver of her life who would collect and save and examine them, and partly because it breaks up the hegemony of prose—it was a happy challenge to me as a writer to figure out how to entertain the reader (and myself) while conveying information to spur the story along. I wanted to create pleasure on the page for both of us.

ML: In your One Story interview back in 2013, you mentioned that you were working on “a novel that takes place in Portland, OR and Bemidji, MN in the late 1990s,” which I assume became Stray City. You also state that it had taken you a little over a decade for “Between Ship and Ice” to go from first draft to publication. What have you learned about writing a novel and writing short stories since then?

CJ: This is that novel! I have learned that writing a novel is not what I thought it was: a story, but more words. No. The main thing writing the novel taught me was to write forward and not fuss over every sentence and paragraph, at least not at first—just keep moving, keep the narrative’s muscles flexible and don’t let things calcify. It also taught me to turn up the heat on characters, to make things tenser and harder, and that cracked open the joy of plot, which as a story writer I had always side-eyed with fear and suspicion. I think I have unlearned how to write a short story, but that’s a good thing. I’m excited to try writing them again with a neophyte’s hubris and cluelessness.

ML: Lastly, what are you most looking forward to at the Literary Debutante Ball?

CJ: I’ve always wanted to go but geography and timing get in the way! I’m just really excited to celebrate with other writers and readers, especially Alex and Cheston and Kendra. And I want to raise a glass to Adina Talve-Goodman, who pulled my story from the slush pile and published it in One Story, which led me to the agent who sold the book and changed my life. I am forever grateful to her and One Story, and I dearly wish she could be there with us.

Monique Laban is a writer from Brooklyn. Her work can be found at http://moniquelaban.wordpress.com/.

Introducing 2018 Debutante: Cheston Knapp

On May 4th, at our 9th annual Literary Debutante BallOne Story will be celebrating three of our authors who have published their debut books over the past year. In the weeks leading up to the Ball, we’ll be introducing our Debs through a series of interviews.

This week, we’re talking to Tin House managing editor Cheston Knapp, author of One Story Issue #133, “A Minor Momentousness in the History of Love” and the linked essay collection Up Up, Down Down.

Up Up, Down Down is a collection of well-calibrated and sharp essays that wryly probe age-old questions of authenticity as he explores regional professional wrestling, the psychology of UFO hunters, growing up and out of Christian and fraternity fellowship, his own evolution as a writer, and much more. These essays are rich. Persistent and entertaining in his interrogation, and often surprising in his insights, Knapp is an open, candid, and inviting writer, with a gift for striking and original descriptive language.

Jonathan Rizzo: Where were you when you found out Up Up, Down Down was going to be published? How did you celebrate?

Cheston Knapp: I must’ve been at work, because I recall hanging up with my agent and walking back into the office with a creeping, Kafkaesque suspicion that there’d been some sort of clerical error, that my editor had mistaken me for someone else (Chester Knupp? Justin Knode? Chisholm Knawshaw?), someone who’d written a sexy and eminently salable book, perhaps about one of the lesser presidents or a long-forgotten historical event or a novel about a once-repressed bassoonist full of lubricious sex—you know, the sort of book people now seem to want to read. This feeling persisted even well after I’d signed the contract… But to celebrate? Can’t recall for certain, but it’s likely that my wife and I ate some over-priced za and toasted “To the beginning of the end.”

JR: In “Far From Me,” you write of feeling discouraged and crushed when a friend dismissed a draft of the piece One Story eventually published, “A Minor Momentousness in the History of Love,” as too similar to David Foster Wallace to be taken on its own merit. How did you get over that? And, though you were discouraged, was some part of you pleased with the comparison?

CK: Like, you mean, beyond expunging all memory of that cheeseweiner from my mind and never talking to him again? Nah—I don’t know. In some way writing that essay on the anxiety of influence (“Far from Me”) was a way of examining/unpacking why something as dumbly innocuous as that comment would’ve hurt (or pleased) me back then. Now I couldn’t care less, one way or the other. Through all the reading I did for that essay I came to believe that our prevailing ideas about influence and originality and individuality and “authenticity” are hopelessly flawed and deeply fucked, and that whatever flattery or fear we experience in relation to them is misguided and thin and ungenerous and reductive. Emerson, as with so much, got it right: “We are tendencies, or rather, symptoms, and none of us complete. We touch and go, and sip the foam of many lives.”

JR: The first essay in Up Up, Down Down, “Faces of Pain,” concludes with you walking into the training facility of a professional wrestling organization to get “a piece of the action.” How far did you take it? Did you develop a stage persona? Did you step into the ring?  

CK: Too far. In fact I seem only to know how to take things one way—too far. I’m hesitant to say too much about this because I’m kicking around the material as a pitch for another book, but I did spend some time with a lucha libre promotion that toured the US southwest and certain parts of Mexico. I played a burnout surfer from Norte California (modeled after Brad Pitt’s character in True Romance) by the name of Agua Frisco. But it was important for me, in working up “Faces of Pain,” to leave all this info off-stage, as it were, to stop at the very moment that other, more standard journalistic profiles would’ve begun, with entering the ring. I wanted to play with that form a little.

JR: Alongside the recurring exploration of the relationship between authenticity and experience running throughout these essays, you disclose in “Neighborhood Watch,” which is about your relationship and response to your neighbor’s murder, that a feeling doesn’t really become “real” for you until it’s rendered in prose. Has writing and having Up Up, Down Down published made the events recounted in the book more real for you?

CK: Ahh, the old “modalities of the real” chestnut. I’m glad the essay got you thinking about these things—it was one of my hopes for the book, that it might prompt certain questions for the reader without necessarily hazarding answers/solutions to them. Offer anything like an answer/solution and you’ll swiftly find yourself in dangerous essayistic waters… So I’ll mostly demure here and say that in that essay I was trying to contend with, among other things, the very idea of storytelling, that slippery process by which an event from life (in this case the murder of my neighbor) becomes a “story,” and so available for public consumption. Digestion. And the way Peter’s story was being told, in all the local media here, God, it frustrated me. There wasn’t any context at all. The event was just another bit of salacious gossip offered to the public as “news,” you know, before tomorrow’s weather forecast and the highlights from high school sports. So I felt this demanded I pay attention to how I was experiencing the event and then foregrounding all the problems (and pleasures) writing a story entails.

JR: The powerful combination of candor and self-interrogation is in effect in these essays as you spotlight and strip away cultural identities (skater, Christian, frat boy, writer, et al.) and familial identities (son, brother, husband, father-to-be). Is writer the one that unites them all?

CK: No one puts it better than Pliny the Elder: “It is a well-known fact, that when a man is in fear, the blood takes to flight and disappears, and that many persons have been pierced through the body without losing one drop of blood; a thing, however, which is only the case with man. But as to those animals which we have already mentioned as changing color, they derive that color from the reflection of other objects; while, on the other hand, man is the only one that has the elements which cause these changes centered in himself. All diseases, as well as death, tend to absorb the blood.”

JR: Do you feel philosophy helps or hinders understanding?

CK: Yes.

JR: Lastly, what are you most looking forward to at the Debutante Ball?

CK: I have the utmost respect for Maribeth and Hannah and the whole OS team, past, current, and TK, so it’ll be a treat to see them in all their glory. Also I’m pumped to see what Famous Writer I’ll whizz next to—last time it was Jonathan Lethem!

Jonathan Rizzo is a writer living in Brooklyn. He recently graduated with an MFA from Hunter College and is working on a memoir. 

Announcing our 2018 Literary Debutantes

via GIPHY

One Story proudly presents our 2018 Literary Debutantes:

And Alexander Chee, our Mentor of the Year!

Join us as we toast these three One Story authors who have published their first books in the past year! The One Story Literary Debutante Ball will take place on Friday, May 4th at Roulette in Brooklyn, NY.  We’ll have live music, dancing, hors d’oeuvres, and specialty cocktails. It is our most important fundraising event of the year.

Tickets are on sale now starting at $75. To discuss sponsorship opportunities for the One Story Literary Debutante Ball, please contact: maribeth@one-story.com.

ONE STORY AT AWP 2018

In just a few days, the AWP conference will flap its way down to Tampa, bringing thousands of literary magazines, MFA programs, publishers, and writers to the Sunshine State. One Story will be there, too, and we hope that you’ll come visit us at Booth #1513. We’ll be selling discounted subscriptions, recent issues of One Story and One Teen Story, and custom-curated three packs of the magazine. We’ll also be registering people for our newest online class, and offering on-the-spot subscribers a spin on our Wheel of Fabulous Prizes. (How could you resist?) And — just when you thought we couldn’t get any cooler! — we’re co-hosting what promises to be a super fun dance party with Tin House and Kenyon Review on Thursday night:

Wondering which panels & readings to go to? We’ve got some suggestions! Here’s a list of every panel at the conference that will include One Story and One Teen Story authors and One Story editors:

THURSDAY, MARCH 8TH

Time: 9:00am – 10:15am

Location: Room 24, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title: “I’m For Real”: Minority Professors in the Predominately White Classroom.

Panelists: Allison Amend, Adriana Ramirez, Dhipinder Walia, Marisa Matarazzo, Phillip Williams

Description: It’s a familiar and problematic narrative: White teacher goes into the hood to “save” urban students. Beyond this reductive trope there are real issues when there is a race, class, sexual orientation, or privilege divide between educator and students, especially if the educator is the member of a minority or traditionally marginalized group. What are the responsibilities and challenges for minority instructors in representing their own identities as they seek to educate those who are different?

 

Time: 12:00pm – 1:15pm

Location: Room 15, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title: The Historical Women: Reimagining Past Narratives Through the Contemporary Female Perspective.

Panelists: Chanelle Benz, Amelia Gray, Min Jin Lee , Megan Mayhew Bergman, Lidia Yuknavitch

Description: “Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul,” said Coretta Scott King during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. What can we learn from reimagined female historical narratives? What is their timely relevance in the current political climate? This panel will also discuss the craft of shaping a nonfiction tale to a modern day story, and how to create female characters that break barriers and make a history of their own.

 

Time: 12:00pm – 1:15pm

Location: Grand Salon C, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title:  Sound and Fury: Understanding Voice in Fiction.

Panelists: John Fried, Irina Reyn, Emily Mitchell

Description: When it comes to fiction, what is voice? Is it simply characters talking to one another? Or is it related to tone or diction? And how do you teach it? This panel of experienced teachers and writers will consider where voice comes from, as well as how to use voice to play with narration, point of view, and style in your work.

 

Time: 3:00pm – 4:15pm

Location: Grand Salon B, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title: Difficult History: Jewish Fiction in the Alt-Right World

Panelists: Emily Barton, Simone Zelitch, Irina Reyn, Amy Brill, Joanna Hershon

Description: What is Jewish fiction? Who can write it? Until recently, the answer looked much like Philip Roth: white, male, and Eastern European. But recent novels by women have subverted and reimagined Jewish narratives, challenging cultural norms and creating alternative histories with modern resonance. This panel explores what signifies fiction as Jewish, even in a secular story; the role of Jewish stories in unsettling political times; and the complexities of female authorship in patriarchal cultures.

 

Time: 3:00pm – 4:15pm

Location: Room 11, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title: Finding the Understory: What Connects a Collection

Panelists: Mia Alvar , Laura van den Berg, Nina McConigley, Ramona Ausubel, Helen Phillips)

Description: Story collections can gain resonant coherence through the very tissue that connects their individual pieces and yet remain unequivocally collections, resisting novelization, or overt linkages such as recurring characters. What are the risks and rewards of writing a story collection with thematic through-lines? This panel will discuss collections that are unified by thematic currents but squarely resist novelization.

 

Time: 3:00pm – 4:15pm

Location: Florida Salon 4, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title:  Bad Moon Rising: Writing It Weird in the South

Panelists: Alexander Lumans, Tiffany Quay Tyson, Jamie Quatro, Matthew Baker, Jamey Hatley
Description:  The practice of writing it weird in the South runs deep. Be it Flannery O’Connor’s gothic or Barry Hannah’s grotesqueries, the region breeds a Southern Comfort brand of the surreal. In this panel, five established and emerging fiction writers give voice to contemporary iterations of this regional tradition, ranging from steeplechase necromancers to bayou bestiaries. Through readings of their haunting and fantastic visions, these writers present an updated essence of the uncanny American South.

 

Time: 3:00pm – 4:15pm

Location: Room 11, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title:  Finding the Understory: What Connects a Collection

Panelists: Mia Alvar, Laura van den Berg, Nina McConigley, Ramona Ausubel, Helen Phillips

Description:  Story collections can gain resonant coherence through the very tissue that connects their individual pieces and yet remain unequivocally collections, resisting novelization, or overt linkages such as recurring characters. What are the risks and rewards of writing a story collection with thematic through-lines? This panel will discuss collections that are unified by thematic currents but squarely resist novelization.

 

Time: 4:30pm – 5:45pm

Location: Ballroom A, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title: Stranger and Truthier Than Truth: Fiction in the Age of Trump

Panelists: Manuel Gonzales, Helen Phillips, Angela Flournoy, Kelly Link, Marie-Helene Bertino

Description:  There’s an increasing movement to combat the turbulent political climate with nonfiction essays and personally revealing hot takes. However, fantasy worlds can act as society’s mirror just as acutely. Part of resisting can be frivolity and a refusal to eschew whimsy. In a post-fact world, the most equipped soldiers can be those who deal in making it up. Award-winning fiction writers will talk about why the “lie” of fiction matters now, and how fiction can be truthier than truth.

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 9TH

Time: 9:00am – 10am

Location: Grand Salon B, Marriott Waterside, Second Floo

Title:  Past as Present: The Relevance of History in Fiction.

Panelists: Amy Brill, Alexander Chee, Allison Amend, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Yoojin Grace Wuertz

Description: Historical fiction may conjure an image of a swooning Victorian lady or hardscrabble homesteader, but the contemporary meaning and urgency of novels set in the past is complex and often overlooked. This panel explores how the prism of history enables reflection that’s impossible in contemporary settings; how the subjectivity of interpreting history leads to innovation and discovery; the line between revising history and reimagining lives; and whether history may “belong” to anyone.

 

Time: 9:00am – 10:15am

Location: Florida Salon 1, 2, & 3, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title:  Forthcoming: Debut Novelists on What They Wish They’d Known Before Publication

Panelists: Jessie Chaffee, Lisa Ko, Tiffany Jackson, Rachel Lyon, Patricia Park

Description: You have a book contract—now what? What can you expect and how can you make your book stand out in a noisy, crowded market? Recent debut novelists—of adult and YA, published by large and small houses—share advice on the run-up to publication, from the nuts and bolts of the process to savvy marketing. Topics include: publication timeline; navigating editorial and marketing conversations; websites; blurbs; reviews; independent publicists; creative promotion; book tours; and finding your readers.

 

Time: 10:30am – 11:45am

Location: Grand Salon C, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title: Writing Revolution: Not Why, but How.

Panelists: Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes, Peter Mountford, Nayomi Munaweera

Description: What are the specific challenges of writing about resistance and protest movements? How do we balance ethics, polemics, and aesthetics? How do we portray the labor—emotional and otherwise—of change-makers? When depicting historical movements, what are the obligations to reality and the obligations to the imagination? This panel brings together writers for a craft discussion of how to write fiction about revolution, political violence, and entangled histories.

 

Time: 10:30am – 1:45am

Location: Room 11, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title: The World and the Story: How Plot Maps Fictional Realities.

Panelists: Leah Stewart, Brock Clarke, Jung Yun, Brenda Peynado, Julialicia Case

Description: In fiction, there’s an interdependent relationship between world-building (the map) and narrative construction (the route). This panel will examine how writers employ different types of stories—the romance, the mystery, the quest—in service to different visions of reality. Why does a realist like Chekhov so often use the romance? For what purposes does a fantasy writer use the quest? How can a writer of literary fiction employ the quest or the mystery to investigate character?

 

Time: 12:00pm – 1:15pm

Location: Meeting Room 4, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title:  Beyond 140 Characters and the Canon: The Growth of Undergraduate Creative Writing

Panelists: Laura van den Berg, Anne Valente, Sequoia Nagamatsu, Shane McCrae, Kirstin Valdez Quade

Description: As undergraduate creative writing programs become increasingly popular, many teachers of writing must learn and explore strategies specific to undergraduate instruction that may differ vastly from their graduate school experience. Five professors working exclusively with undergraduates will address conducting workshops, challenges specific to their students and, in turn, their teachers, as well as how to build, maintain, and identify the hallmarks of a dynamic undergraduate program.

 

Time: 1:30pm – 2:45pm

Location: Room 22, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title:  How Short Story Collections Are Born: Demystifying the Process of Publishing Your Debut Collection.

Panelists: Marian Crotty , David James Poissant, Manuel Gonzales, Rion Amilcar Scott, Amina Gautier

Description: From big houses to small presses, from contests to agented submissions, short story writers have several options for publishing first collections. The implications of these choices, however, are seldom clear until the process is complete. This panel will discuss the different paths by which four authors published debut collections, as well as the lessons they learned about editing, publishing, and promoting their books along the way.

 

Time: 1:30pm – 2:45pm

Location: Florida Salon 4, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title:  Failure: The Taboo Element of Craft

Panelists: John McNally, Hannah Tinti, Valerie Laken, Eric Wilson, Sheree Greer

Description: If you think of failure as a necessary part of the creative process, you begin to see it as an essential element of craft, the gateway to writing the thing that does work. Eventually, the connection between writing that succeeds and writing that fails illuminates itself, and you use this to your advantage. The five writers on this panel will address the various ways that they view failure as an inevitable and therefore important part of the process, and how they’ve accommodated for it.

 

Time: 4:30pm – 5:45pm

Location: Florida Salon 1, 2, & 3, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title: Understanding Novel Structure

Panelists: Arna Bontemps Hemenway, Lan Samantha Chang, Peter Ho Davies, Susanna Daniel, Bonnie Jo Campbell

Description: It can be a lodestar, a revelation, a voice in the wilderness, the solution to a riddle. From premise to final revision, structure is at the core of successful fiction. But where, for the author, does it come from? And how does one conceive of, execute, and/or repair a manuscript’s shape? Four writers—including the director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, winners of the PEN/Hemingway and PEN/Bingham Awards, and a Man Booker long-listed novelist—discuss the ins and outs of structuring a novel.

 

Time: 4:30pm – 5:45pm

Location: Meeting Room 9 & 10, Marriott Waterside, Third Floor

Title: Women on the Verge: A Reading

Panelists: Rachel Khong, Alice Sola Kim, Katie Kitamura, Claire Vaye Watkins, R.O. Kwon

Description: lady Macbeth, Elena Greco, Miss Havisham—some of the most memorable woman characters in literature have been the angry ones. Nonetheless, writers are often criticized, or overlooked, for bringing to life so-called unrelatable, unlikable woman characters. What are the delights of writing angry women whom some readers might find to be off-putting? What could be potential risks and difficulties? Join five fiction writers as we read from and discuss passages featuring the women we’ve made.

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 10TH

Time: 9:00am – 10:15am

Location: Room 11, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title:  The Shadow of the Mouse: How Florida Fiction Can Escape Theme Park Culture

Panelists: Chris Eder, Regina Sakalarios-Rogers, Jeffrey Newberry, Patrick Ryan, Lynne Barrett

Description: When Americans think of Florida too often they think of theme parks or mobility scooters. Those who write in and about this region hope to be taken seriously when the place they write about isn’t. Five writers of literary fiction consider the inward and outward facing qualities of Florida literature. Specifically, how can fiction writers make Florida feel real when it’s so often associated with make believe? How can they humanize a cartoon state?

 

Time: 10:30 am – 11:45 am

Location: Ballroom D, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title: Writing Bad Ass and Nasty Women.

Panelists: Luanne Smith, Pam Houston, Kim Addonizio, Ann Hood, Bonnie Jo Campbell

Description: We long for empowered women, especially in today’s political climate. Writing such women, though, is not about capturing Wonder Woman on the page. At times, kicking butt, breaking laws, hearts, and balls is necessary for the work, but at other times, the woman simply stands her ground and wants control over her own choices and body. The writers on this panel have given us bad ass women in their writing and sometimes been surprised by the reception. What is bad ass today? No cuffs required.

 

Time: 10:30 am – 11: 45 am

Location: florida Salon 1, 2, & 3, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title:  Only Connect: Building Literary Community Beyond the MFA

Panelists: Julie Buntin, Saeed Jones, Ken Chen, Christine Texeira, Alison Murphy)

Description: Community is often touted as the best reason to get an MFA. But what happens when the program ends, or if an MFA isn’t right for you? Administrators from organizations changing the literary ecosystem discuss the opportunities for connection that exist in nonacademic settings. Topics include writing, publishing, and networking on- and offline; teaching and studying outside of academia; and how writers from every educational background can find and build their own sustaining, creative communities.

 

Time: 12:00pm – 1:15pm

Location: Ballroom C, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title:  The Worst Writing Advice I Ever Got

Panelists: Melissa Stein, Mark Doty, Chris Abani, Ada Limon, Hannah Tinti

Description: Bad advice: it’s all over the place. Five intrepid prose writers and poets dish up counterproductive counsel offered by teachers, by friends and family, by other writers, by naysayers and ambition-squashers and status-quo-preservers everywhere (sometimes even in our own heads). We’ll explore how we develop resilience and courage and confidence and voice as writers and, along the way, may just sneak in a wealth of eminently useful, real-world advice.

 

Time: 1:30pm – 2:45pm

Location: grand Salon A, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title: This Is the Place: Women Writing About Home.

Panelists:Kelly McMasters, Amanda Petrusich, Catina Bacote, Lina Maria Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas, Leigh Newman

Description: As women coming of age in the modern era, moving out of our parents’ homes and into spaces of our own was exhilarating and terrifying. We looked to the past, to the homes our mothers and grandmothers defined for us, and we looked forward to something new we were going to create. In making homes for ourselves, we have defined ourselves—as partners, mothers, citizens. Readers are select contributors to This Is the Place: 30 Women Writing About Home (Seal Press, November 2017).

 

Time: 1:30pm – 2:45pm

Location: Meeting Room 1, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title: Writ Large: Expansion in the Short Story.

Panelists: Siân Griffiths, Eric Sasson, Caitlin Horrocks , Marie-Helene Bertino , Diane Cook

Description: William Strunk said, “Vigorous writing is concise.” Professors and craft books tend to agree, emphasizing the importance of cutting and concision. However, what’s good for the sentence is not always good for the story. Our panel suggests that sometimes a story benefits from more, not less. We examine ways to know if a story needs another dimension and in those instances, discuss strategies the writer might explore to help their stories find their best length.

 

Time: 1:30pm – 2:45pm

Location: Ballroom C, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title: New Intimacies: A Reading and Conversation with Min Jin Lee and Sigrid Nunez. Sponsored by Kundiman

Panelists: Harold Augenbraum, Min Jin Lee, Sigrid Nunez

Description: Kundiman presents two novelists whose stories bring us into the fraught, shifting lives of family and friends, whose settings span continents and generations, and whose characters show the tenuous nature of identity in diaspora.

 

Time: 1:30 pm – 2:45 pm

Location: Ballroom D, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title:  Monster Cultures

Panelists: Sofia Samatar, Theodora Goss, Kelly Link, Carmen Maria Machado, Nancy Hightower

Description: rom cyborgs to serial killers, monsters work the territory where explosive opposites meet: fear and desire, criminality and victimhood. On this panel, five writers of the fantastic discuss the roles of monsters in their work and areas of interest. How do monsters function in contemporary literature, in environmental writing, in Afrofuturism? What concerns and breakthroughs come with using the monstrous to express marginalized racial and sexual identities? How do we write the ultimate Other?

 

Time: 3:00pm – 4:15pm

Location: Ballroom A, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title:  Write What You Know but Know It All: Research as Catalyst in Fiction

Panelists: Alexander Chee, Jennine Capó Crucet, Patricia Engel, Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes, Xhenet Aliu

Description: One fiction writer constructs an imaginary world and turns to research—historical, scientific, vernacular—for verisimilitude. Another stumbles upon a historical event or character and uses imagination to give it life. Who did it right? Is there such a thing? A panel of novelists who’ve produced a diverse body of fiction, from the seemingly semi-autobiographical to the historical, discuss the ways in which research and imagination work in concert—or conflict—to build a fictional world.

 

Time: 3:00pm – 4:15pm

Location: Meeting Room 1, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title: Crafting the Weird: Techniques of Fabulist Female Fiction

Panelists: Clare Beams, Brenda Peynado, Jamey Bradbury, Celia Johnson, Ramona Ausubel

Description: Surreal, magical, or fabulist fiction has traditionally been employed to attack political systems through subversive means. Yet, women writers have adapted this genre for their own modes of critique. In this event, panelists will discuss how they use elements of the weird to address subjects such as the domestic, the female body, otherness, and LGBTQ identity. Presenters will provide examples, methods, and techniques for crafting subversive fiction that offers new methods of witnessing reality.

 

Time: 4:30pm – 5:45pm

Location: Room 13, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Title:  Writing Women’s Interior Lives

Panelists: Julia Phillips, Jessie Chaffee, Leigh Stein, Krys Lee, Mia Alvar

Description: Five years ago, Meg Wolitzer wrote in The New York Times of “that close-quartered lower shelf where books emphasizing relationships and the interior lives of women are often relegated.” The five panelists here, all of whom recently published or will publish books emphasizing those very subjects, discuss their intentions, craft, and relegation (or not) to that lower shelf. What’s changed in the five years since Wolitzer’s essay was printed? What can we expect to change in the five years to come?

 

Time: 4:30pm – 5:45pm

Location: Grand Salon B, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Title:  The Suspense Is Killing Me!

Panelists: Michael Kardos, Kelly Magee, Phong Nguyen, Susan Perabo, Christopher Coake

Description: “Suspense” is too often dismissed as a genre, akin to thriller or mystery, when in fact it is an important element of all kinds of fiction, and often central to what makes a story or novel compelling to read. These five panelists will discuss the role of suspense in fiction (theirs and others’) and offer suggestions to generate suspense in a wide range of fiction. “Must-read” recommendations, helpful exercises, and a Q&A will round out the session.

 

We’ll see you all in Tampa! Remember to come by our booth to say hello.

 

via GIPHY

❤ Adina Talve-Goodman ❤
1986-2018

Dear Friends,

We are in mourning for our dear friend Adina Talve-Goodman, who passed away from cancer on Friday, January 12th.

Adina started working at One Story magazine as an intern in April 2010. After a brief break she returned, first as an assistant and later as One Story’s Managing Editor, beginning in March 2012. Whether you interacted with Adina through our editorial department, our writing classes, or at public events like the Literary Debutante Ball, you know that she was special. She had a way of disarming—and charming—everyone. She filled our office with laughter and music. She left our team in 2016, but she has never been far from our hearts.

Memorial contributions can be sent to The Adina Fund for Early Childhood Education at Central Reform Congregation, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, or Siteman Cancer Center. Adina was also a mentor at Girls Write Now.

In 2015, Adina won the Bellevue Literary Review’s Non-Fiction Prize with her marvelous essay, “I Must Have Been That Man.”  To read it is to hear her voice. We were so lucky to know her.

With love,

One Story

Announcing One Story’s 2018 Mentor of the Year: Alexander Chee

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 Lan Samantha Chang, Ann PatchettDani Shapiro, Cornelius Eady, Toi Derricotte, and Jim Shepard.

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 to give them a boost over the publishing wall.

Alexander Chee exemplifies this kind of gallant hard work, and we’ll be honoring him, along with our Literary Debutantes on Friday, May 4, 2018 at the One Story Literary Debutante Ball at Roulette in Brooklyn. Tickets will go on sale March 1st.

 Alexander Chee is the author of the novels Edinburgh and The Queen of the Night, and the forthcoming essay collection, How To Write An Autobiographical Novel. He is a contributing editor at The New Republic and an editor at large at VQR. His essays and stories have appeared recently in The New York Times Magazine, T Magazine, Tin House, and Best American Essays 2016, among others. He is as an associate professor of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College.

Photo credit: M. Sharkey

Issue #232: A Month on Greene Street by Tom Hanks

I’ve long been guilty of inaccurate first impressions. Thankfully, I usually keep them to myself—just private little assessments I make of, say, a person I see across a room. Observations I deem both intuitive and astute. What an accurate judge of character I am! I can sum you up with a glance or, at the very most, a few seconds of watching your mannerisms, your facial expressions. That’s how sharp my receptors are.

Only, they aren’t that sharp. Sometimes I’m near the mark; quite often I’m way off. “Always trust your first impression” is advice we’ve all heard before, and it’s often true—but it slams up against “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” “Don’t knock it till you try it,” and even “Proof’s in the pudding.”

Our new issue is a story called “A Month on Greene Street,” and it’s about a woman named Bette who has just moved her family into a new house. Not only does Bette rely heavily on first impressions, she also takes great stock in what she considers to be her extrasensory visions, or “pops” (as she calls them). “Pops” are little glimpses of the future Bette has now and then. Sometimes they come true; sometimes they don’t. They’re a source of comfort; they’re a source of worry. And there are quite a few of them to be had in a new home, on a new street, surrounded by new neighbors.

This story won me over the first time I read it, and upon each subsequent reading it becomes more layered, more moving, and funnier. It’s written by an author we already know to be a tremendously accomplished actor, and the fact that he’s now proving himself to be a tremendously talented writer of short stories makes me wonder what else he can do. (Levitate? Bend things with his mind?) One Story is thrilled to be giving the world its first glimpse of “A Month on Greene Street” by Tom Hanks. Be sure to check out our Q&A with the author, wherein he discusses Bette, her pops, why and how he came to write short stories, and his fondness for the good old-fashioned typewriter.