Sarah Marty-Schlipf writes personal essays. She uses her own life as a starting point to explore the world and human values and behavior. We also talked about her experience teaching a writing workshop in a prison, some of the most rewarding teaching of her career.
Fallon Allison loves and explores poetry in many forms, but especially haiku. We talked about the haiku aesthetic, what translates from Japanese language and culture and what does not, what makes a good haiku, and some of Fallon's own favorites from the rich history of the form.
Joe Chianakas talks about his first novel--a horror story for (I'd never heard of this demographic before) new adults called Rabbit in Red, coming out in the fall of 2015. We talked about writing. We talked about the pleasures of getting scared.
Monica Berlin talked about her poetry--mostly poetry she writes in collaboration with Beth Marzoni, but also things she writes on her own. We talked about how they work, driving along the Mississippi River together, composing on the road, and we talked about writing poems about the weather. Along the way, Monica read some work from her and Beth's award-winning book No Shape Bends the River So Long.
Vampire novelist, by which, of course, I mean he writes novels about vampires--rock and roll vampires, to be specific, living the rock star life(-in-death) and guzzling blood instead of bourbon. But then again, we did conduct this interview in an out-of-the-way, obscure corner of the basement of a former museum. Where else would a real vampire want to be interviewed?
Zeke Jarvis and I talked about the value of the odd, the unexpected, the shift out of the ordinary in his fiction and poetry, the weird take on the conventional, such as a story of his about a college course on crying or a collection, not of poems, but of poetry-reading introductions to non-existent poems. If writers don't entertain themselves first of all, there's no reason to expect others to care.
Katherine Young talked with me about her writing, meant mainly to inspire and encourage young people. She talked also about her project of collaborating with her child on her next book.
Penn Stewart's novel Fertile Ground covers some historical ground that's unfamiliar to most of us: the families and fates of German nationals interned in the U.S. during World War II. We talked about that book, some of the research behind it, and some of his marvelous short stories.
Jessica Bastian, a librarian at Illinois Central College, has helped choose books for the One Book, One College program. We talked about the computer-gaming, dystopian, 1980s-nostalgic novel by Ernest Cline Ready Player One, which has been the book for 2014-15, and Civil Rights hero John Lewis's graphic autobiographic The March, which is the book for 2015-16.
Pepper Bauer--fiction writer, essayist, journalist, activist--has published a lot of work locally in Central Illinois, especially in Downstate Story and in the Limestone Independent News. We talked about her realistic fiction and about her science fiction set in a dystopian world of total corporate control. She is also leader of the Foodshare Can-a-thon, a huge annual project to fund and stock local food pantries in Central Illinois.