by Gnesis Villar
Issue #50 • April 20, 2017•Buy Now!
Every October, when a girl hasn’t disappeared into the fields yet and everyone with a daughter is walking around wild-eyed and nervous, Olivia and I are indoors by nightfall. My mother digs out her rosary and nails it onto my doorway, where it stays until spring. Olivia’s parents send her to my house every time they go on a business trip. We’ve watched the entirety of Netflix’s Instant Queue-able movie collection, beat every video game Diana left behind when she went to college, destroyed all the board games, and even tried arts and crafts—Olivia knitted winter-wear for theoretical boyfriends, I embroidered. Sometimes we run through all our classmates and try to sort them into two categories: initiated or victim. Those who don’t fall into either aren’t important enough to be categorized. Olivia crosses her fingers at every name and we don’t talk about who’s right or wrong because there are no winners in this game. We came up with it bored and laying down cards in another round of War. This afternoon, we’re in my bedroom listening to some indie rock band Olivia likes.
Gnesis Villar is a sophomore at Kenyon College where she receives a writing scholarship. She is majoring in English and Gender Studies. She was awarded a Gold Key for her writing portfolio in the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards in 2015, and that same year won second place in the Penguin Random House Creative Writing Competition. She works as an associate at The Kenyon Review.
Patrick Ryan on Guts
As you may know, at the beginning of this year One Teen Story became a quarterly magazine focused solely on the writing of teens. Along with how wonderful it is to work with young, emerging writers, I’m excited that we’ll now be putting their stories into the hands of over 10,000 readers (which is a huge circulation increase from what OTS was able to boast of in the past). To start us off on this new venture, we present you with “Guts,” a story written by Gnesis Villar. “Guts” is several things at once: it’s a story about courage and self-respect, it’s an endearing portrait of a friendship between two teenaged girls, and it’s a chilling tale of a dangerous world that looks a lot like ours. Read what Gnesis has to say about how the story came about in our Q&A. She’s a remarkable talent. I feel certain we’ll be reading more of her work, and I envy readers who get to experience “Guts” for the first time.
Q&A by Patrick Ryan
Also, the spring before I had discovered short stories and how that’s probably what I should have been writing this whole time instead of the next YA paranormal romance. So, I read “Somebody Else’s Baby” by Diane Cook and “Fear Itself” by Katie Coyle during this time of upheaval in my writing, two stories that were the closest to what I wanted to do—except that the places they didn’t overlap was what I was most interested in. And I was left with a question that moved the story to the point it is now: how can I write dark, surreal fiction that prioritizes and is about teenage girls?
Now, I find myself reading a lot of online interviews, whether it’s promotion for a book or saying what inspired a short story or just chatting with another writer. There’s something about hearing someone whose work I admire speak on their craft that motivates me, makes me think, “They are a person, and as a fellow person, they expended a tremendous amount of effort and work to produce what I am seeing.”
I take a long time to finish projects and I almost never have moments where words just pour out of me so, it really helps to see people. And the few times that has occurred has been because I’ve got a deadline the next morning or I’m twenty minutes away from missing it. I also think that we heap a lot of praise on the inspired genius-type who doesn’t even have to try a pedestal, when working your ass off to be the best at your art is the more, if not the most, admirable thing.