Contributor Spotlight: Theodore Wesenberg


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Wesenberg PhotoTheodore’s nonfiction piece “Deer Hunter” appears in Midwestern Gothic Issue 19, out now.

What’s your connection to the Midwest, and how has the region influenced your writing?

I grew up in Wisconsin and always wanted to escape. Hard as I’ve tried to leave—moving to the west coast and living abroad for years—the Midwest lures me back. Before coming to Chicago, I taught English in Asia. Whenever I got homesick, I wrote about home. Usually short stories set in a fictionalized version of my home city of Oshkosh.

What do you think is the most compelling aspect of the Midwest?

The people, definitely. I don’t think it’s any wonder that the Cohen Brothers’ most famous film is Fargo. Or take Wisconsinites, for instance, we’re always being accused of predictable politeness and amicability, but we’ve produced more high-profile serial killers than presidents. That’s compelling.

How do your experiences or memories of specific places –where you grew up, or a place you’ve visited that you can’t get out of your head – play a role in your writing?

To date, my best writing has been set where I grew up. For example, the novel I am currently writing is set on Lake Butte des Mortes. It gets its name from French traders because it was once a Native burial place. For generations my family has spent summers there, fishing and swimming.

Discuss your writing process—inspirations, ideal environments, how you deal with writer’s block.

I do the bulk of my writing and rewriting at my kitchen table. It’s big. I can sprawl notes out, and the coffeemaker is only a few steps away. I discipline myself to write every day.

How can you tell when I piece of writing is finished?

I can’t tell. Even after a story has been published, I’m still making edits.

Who is your favorite author? What draws you to their work?

Today, it is Mr. Haruki Murakami. His novel Norwegian Wood, I read about once a year because of its unusual moods and tones. I could stay all day in his storyworlds.

What’s next for you?

Get my first novel out. I’ve been working on it for years.

Where can we find my information about you?

Follow me on Twitter: @ted_wesenberg

Webpage: tedwesenberg.com

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