Angela Palm’s story “Shoes For All Time” appears in Midwestern Gothic Issue 9, out now.
Photo (c) copyright Greg Perez
How long have you been writing?
I’ve written with the idea of releasing words into the world for about a year, but I have always put words on the page in some manner.
What’s your connection to the Midwest?
I lived in Indiana for the first thirty years of my life and have spent a lot of time traipsing around the Great Lakes area.
How has the Midwest influenced your writing?
My writing sensibilities about place come almost directly from the Midwest’s landscape, its people, and its subtle conflicts. It has a landscape that endures, despite often being viewed as unremarkable. Unique to the Midwest, too, is the tangible sense of yielding to machines. An authenticity of character exists there that is unparalleled by other regions. I think I write with particular sensitivity to these elements without suggesting some kind of apology for them. But at the same time, I was one of those Midwestern girls who grew up feeling that a lot of what I was told to believe and ways I was expected to behave weren’t quite right and didn’t translate in the larger world. So in a sense, there’s an ongoing rebellion, or re-learning, happening in my own life that I’m certain comes through in my writing. I think of myself as a recovering Midwesterner.
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 seems to be a collective assumption that the Midwest is a place you begin in or leave behind, rather than a place you go to with intention or linger in for a while. And I get that. There is also the suggestion, through lack of a regionalist push, that there is no new earth to overturn—the sense that there’s nothing further to learn from the region. No stories that haven’t been told. These assumptions translate to publishing, but they don’t make Midwestern writers or stories and less valid or any less nuanced. And of course there are great Midwestern writers. So maybe this push has to begin with Midwestern writers celebrating themselves. I took a number of English literature courses in college (in the MW) that focused on particular sets of writers—female writers, Southern writers, black writers, Native American writers. There wasn’t a class that studied Midwestern writers. That class ought to exist in Midwestern colleges.
How do you feel about social media to promote your writing, and do you use it?
I do use it. I think it’s important for all new writers coming up through the trenches for a couple of reasons. Social media seems crucial in developing a readership for one’s work, particularly in light of the growth of e-publishing, e-books, and online literary magazines. For writers like myself who work outside of academia and don’t have terminal degrees, it provides a support network. But more importantly, social media connects writers to the pulse of a strong Internet-based literary community made up of real people. I’ve discovered a number of great writers through social media, as well as a network of people whom I consider peers and inculators of literary wisdom. I don’t think it makes any sense to ignore or reject on principle the technological tools de jour. They are only a delivery system.
Too many to list and all for different reasons. Just as Long as We’re Together (Blume) for making me feel like a normal kid despite all evidence to the contrary, Fury (Rushdie) for its prose style, Sexing the Cherry (Winterson) for its fantastic world-bending, Song of Solomon (Morrison) for blowing up my heart and head.
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?
angelapalm.com or on Twitter: @angpalm