Nick Arvin’s story “The Beauty Engine” appears in Midwestern Gothic 1.
How long have you been writing?
Taking the question literally, I suppose I’ve been writing since I was six or seven years old, in about 1980. I do still remember one or two stories I wrote as school assignments early on. But I first began to take my fiction writing seriously when I was in college, 20 years ago.
What’s your connection to the Midwest?
I live in Denver now, but I spent most of my life in the Midwest. I grew up in Clio, Michigan, and studied engineering at the University of Michigan. I worked for a time at Ford, in Dearborn, and later I studied writing at the University of Iowa.
How has the Midwest influenced your writing?
Because I grew up in the Midwest, my first instinct is for settings that are Midwestern, and the for character personalities that are Midwestern. I sometimes find that I have to make an effort to write in a way that doesn’t feel Midwestern.
Why do you believe there has never really been a regionalist push for Midwestern writing in the past like there has with the South or even the West Coast?
There’s a general sense in the larger culture that the Midwest and things Midwestern are flat and dull. I suspect that a lot of writers in the Midwest internalize this, and so they tend to deemphasize the Midwestern settings of their writing, or simply set their work elsewhere. I’d love to see Midwestern Gothic start to change this.
How do you feel about social media to promote your writing, and do you use it?
I’m instinctively uncomfortable with self-promotion (after all, I did grow up in the Midwest), but I am on Facebook, and I like it well enough.
It’s always hard to pick just one, but for anyone interested in Midwestern fiction let me recommend the work of Wright Morris. A good place to start is his novel Plains Song.
Pretty much anything from Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor. Unless I’m more in the mood for a plate of greasy stuff, in which case I want something at the Hamburg Inn No. 2 in Iowa City.
If you could have coffee (or tea or a beer) with any literary figure, alive or dead, who would it be?
Where can we find more information about you?