Darci Schummer’s piece “Pretty as a Penny” appears in Midwestern Gothic Issue 12, out now.
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing poetry and stories since I was nine. My first book was a collection of poems glued onto tinfoil pages. It said “MOM” in tinfoil letters on the front cover. Can you guess who it was a present for?
What’s your connection to the Midwest?
I’m a Wisconsin girl. I grew up in Fall Creek, Wisconsin, and attended college in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Now I live in Minneapolis. So I’ve lived my entire life in the Midwest.
How has the Midwest influenced your writing?
Having living my entire life here, I don’t think I’m fully capable of seeing how the Midwest has influenced my writing. Maybe if I lived somewhere else for an extended period of time and read my work in a different context, I would more fully understand. However, I do know that winter has been a big influence on my work. Winter changes the way people interact with one another, and it affects people’s emotional landscapes. Cold and early dark breed reflection and loneliness, two themes which are prevalent in my work. I would also say that my characters are what might be viewed as typical Midwesterners: middle class, hard-working, and down to earth.
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?
I don’t think the Midwest particularly enjoys calling attention to itself. It’s humble; its gracious. But it’s also self-conscious. It’s used to being viewed as flyover country, and perhaps now it simply takes pride in the lack of attention it gets. The people who live here know that despite what the rest of the country may think, Middle America is rich in music, literature, theater, and art. We don’t need to flaunt it. We simply enjoy keeping the secret.
How do you feel about social media to promote your writing, and do you use it?
I think it’s a valuable way to promote writing. I’m on Facebook and Twitter, which allows me to let friends, colleagues, and other writers know what I’m doing and also to find about other opportunities for submissions. For someone like me who doesn’t have her own website, it’s the best means of self-promotion.
I don’t have one favorite book, band, or food. So, in no particular order, here are the top five: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, The Stranger by Albert Camus, Call It Sleep by Henry Roth, A Feast of Snakes by Harry Crews, and Loose Woman by Sandra Cisneros.
Top five in no particular order: The Balvenie Doublewood Scotch whisky, broccoli cheese soup, Bushmills Black Bush whiskey, vegetable sandwiches, any Belgian beer, and hazelnut truffles.
If you could have coffee (or tea or a beer) with any literary figure, alive or dead, who would it be?
I would like to whiskey with Andre Dubus (II, not III). Since I’m not a religious person, I’d be interested to discuss his faith with him. I’d also like to talk to him about the way his life changed after the accident which confined him to a wheelchair. Then, of course, we’d have to talk writing–the practice of writing, character development, plot structure, sentence structure, and punctuation.
Where can we find more information about you?
You can read my blog at darcidawn.blogspot.com, which has a list of links to my work. Any correspondence can be sent to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.