Justine Chan’s story “Cavities” appears in Midwestern Gothic Issue 6, out now.
How long have you been writing?
The funny thing is that I didn’t decide on becoming a writer until the end of my senior year of high school. And then I didn’t write seriously until my first fiction workshop first semester of college. So it has been five years so far which is probably nothing compared to other writers who have written prolifically since childhood, but I feel like I have been writing my whole life. Just in my head.
What’s your connection to the Midwest?
I was born and raised in the vast lands of Chicago suburbia, and I’m a total Chicago girl. Chicago is like my huge playground. I also went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for my undergraduate studies, so I have always been tied to Illinois and all its corn.
How has the Midwest influenced your writing?
The Midwest has definitely shown up as my setting. And I guess the Midwest mindset as well–there is always the need to escape but also the sense that everything one could possibly need or want is already there. I think there are many treasures in the Midwest and it takes a certain heart and perspective to find them.
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?
That makes it sound like there is no writing going on here when there certainly is! Chicago is the heart of slam poetry and some of the best MFA programs are in the Midwest. I know what you mean though. Maybe it is because the Midwest is kind of like a border time, in that it verges on being so many different things at the same time. It’s difficult to capture it, you know?
How do you feel about social media to promote your writing, and do you use it?
I’m afraid I’m too old fashioned to worry about social media! Yes, I think writing blogs can be useful, but I don’t have one.
Such a tough question! For me, it’s always between J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye and Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier. I read Born Confused at least four times a year.
Noodles! And pretty much everything my mom makes!
If you could have coffee (or tea or a beer) with any literary figure, alive or dead, who would it be?
I would love to have tea with Anne Frank and Sandra Cisneros. I absolutely adore them both.
Where can we find more information about you?
This isn’t really related to writing per se–more like songwriting–but if you like indie folk music, check out my Youtube page: www.youtube.com/brionoke for some of my covers and original music.