How long have you been writing?
I tried to write a novel (about the pioneers, I think) when I was eleven or twelve. I gave up after five-pages, but tried again every year. During my undergrad, I took a few creative writing seminars and got interested again. Then, during graduate school, I finally started writing seriously. Though I was getting my Master’s in Composition and Rhetoric, I found myself wanting to write nonfiction and poems and actually producing a lot of work.
What’s your connection to the Midwest?
Until my recent move to Moscow, Russia, I’ve always lived in the Midwest. I’m from Southeast Missouri. I went to college in Northeast Missouri, and then moved to Lawrence, Kanas, for my Master’s degree. And it’s funny, since I’ve gotten to Russia, I think I’ve become more Midwestern. I stand up for the Midwest, reminding people that it’s quite beautiful. I usually cite Missouri’s Bollinger County (where my family is from) and the Kansas Flint Hills. I remind them that we have cities, too, and that it’s not all rural. I also wear flannel on the weekends.
How has the Midwest influenced your writing?
As a nonfiction writer, I write what I’ve experienced. And I’ve experience the Midwest, so the Midwest is all over everything. The Midwest is also the home of my literary community—Lawrence, KS. Lawrence is where I started writing. And where I met my writer friends who made me want to write seriously and who encouraged me. It’s where I watched fellow writers read at the independent bookstore The Raven and wished I could read, too. And eventually I started reading there. I can’t imagine my literary “home” being anywhere else.
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?
It seems like non-Midwesterners don’t see the Midwest as being unique. We’re the states you fly over. And the people too—we’re the “norm” for America. And so I don’t think that regions that are considered “normal,” get the same kind of push that other regions get. I think we have qualities worth writing about, and so I’m thankful that journals like Midwestern Gothic exist.
How do you feel about social media to promote your writing, and do you use it?
I use Facebook and Twitter to promote my blog, readings, and publications. I feel weird about self-promotion but I still do it…so I’m not exactly sure how I feel.
Impossible! Steinbeck’s East of Eden stuck with me. Flannery O’Connor’s The Complete Stories is a comfort. Currently, I like Gregory Sherl’s poetry, Franzen’s nonfiction and Jhumpa Lahiri’s short stories.
Homemade quiche with vegetables I’ve grown myself, preferably spinach and sweet potatoes. Or blackberry cobbler.
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?
I blog about Moscow life here: http://wateredlove.wordpress.com.
I’ve been published online at Prick of the Spindle, Sleet Magazine, and the Medulla Review. I have a chapbook coming out from Dancing Girl Press in the spring.
I also tweet and instagram under the handle kaay__bee.