Katie Darby Mullins’ piece “An Offering” appears in Midwestern Gothic Issue 10, out now.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing relatively seriously since high school, but even before, it wasn’t uncommon for me to be “working” on one writing project or another. I had the fortune of being a part of the BFA in Creative Writing program at the University of Evansville for my undergrad years, so I started identifying as a writer then.
What’s your connection to the Midwest?
I went to college here, but more importantly to me, my mom is from Indiana—first New Albany (across the river from Louisville) and then Evansville (where I live now). I’m a native Texan, but I’ve lived in Indiana now for almost ten years, and have fallen in love not just with the landscape, but with the history of it—especially with my mom’s history. It’s incredible to be able to spend time in the same places she lived in when she was my age. Plus, I’m lucky enough to teach at the University of Evansville now, which is, no sentimentality meant, a dream come true.
How has the Midwest influenced your writing?
It’s forced me to be very specific in terms of setting. If I write a story or poem based in Kentucky and then another one based in Ohio, I want those two settings to be completely distinct and alive. Also, in a more literal way, it’s where I’ve learned to write. I remember when I first graduated from college, I used to drive out to Slaughters, Kentucky, and I’d just watch the moon. I remember thinking it actually smelled different than other places I’d been. But it was so quiet and so dark, and I think it was how I learned to be still.
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?
If I had to guess, I think it’s that the region is strangely diverse in a way that outsiders don’t recognize: for readers who haven’t spent much time in the Midwest, it’s easy to think Ohio and Iowa are the same place with different names. But there are so many incredible places in the Midwest—the artsy feel of Bloomington, Indiana; big cities like Nashville and St. Louis, Louisville and Cincinnati; farmlands, industrial cities, hills, flatlands; it’s hard to describe the Midwest in just a few words. I think it’s harder to classify “Midwestern literature” for that reason. There are beautiful stories based in Cincinnati that would be hard to group with pastoral stories based in Mariah Hill, Indiana. (Can you tell I’ve spent time in Indiana?)
How do you feel about social media to promote your writing, and do you use it?
In my “other life,” I’m a music blogger, so I’m pretty interested in how to promote writing via social media. My blog, Katie Darby Recommends (www.katiedarbyrecommends.com), is promoted almost entirely from my Twitter account, @kwdarby. I like it because it changes the writing and reading experience from a very isolated, lonely occupation, into a conversation.
In terms of poetry, I love the Collected Poems of James Wright, who is my favorite poet of all time. Right now my favorite book I’ve read in a while is Twenty Thousand Roads, a Gram Parsons biography. I’m obsessed with the moment Cosmic American Music took over, and I think Parsons is one of the most important figures in the scene. (I’m also obsessed with the transition from hair metal to grunge, but that’s really not pertinent here. Unless you want to talk about it on Twitter!)
I love any and all desserts, but ever since I was two, my answer to this question has been “steak”. There’s nothing better than a good steak. Never has been, never will be.
If you could have coffee (or tea or a beer) with any literary figure, alive or dead, who would it be?
Outside of the fantastic writers in the Creative Writing department at the University of Evansville (because I have the pleasure of their company already), I would love to meet Dave Eggers. I love the guts it takes to write any of the stories he does. He writes fantastic stories, takes incredible risks, is never afraid to write something that might be ‘sentimental’ (whatever that means), and perhaps more important than all of that, he’s focused on how to use his writing to make this world a better place. I love 826 Valencia and everything he’s done there. I love McSweeney’s. He seems to have a great sense of humor. I feel like there’d be enough to talk about without having to do the awkward, “So… I loved [insert story here]” thing.
Where can we find more information about you?
Mostly my blog or Twitter. I talk exclusively about music on the blog, but I’m starting to expand to include some poetry and nonfiction—also about music. My Twitter is a little more varied.