Contributor Spotlight: Chloe Clark

author_photo_4Chloe Clark’s poem “Shells” appears in Midwestern Gothic Issue 20, out now.

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

I’m Midwestern to the core. I was born an raised in Wisconsin, went to UW-Madison, and now am attending an MFA program in Iowa. The region influences my writing in so many ways: in the way I hear dialogue in my head, the geography I write about, and the Midwest has its more than fair share of ghosts and magic (Houdini, anyone?) which are huge components to my work.

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

Probably the way that there’s so much diversity to the environments of the Midwest. I feel like there can be such dramatic shifts just by driving an hour in any given direction.

How do your experiences or memories of specific places—such as 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?

I think they might play the biggest role. I feel like I’m haunted (in a good way) by the places that I’ve known. The trees and valleys of my youth slip into my writing in unexpected ways, while cities that I’ve loved are often more clearly the settings of my stories and poems.

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

I am inspired by remarkably strange things: sometimes obvious ones like a snatch of dialogue, but often more so by things I see that just hit me in odd ways that I hadn’t thought about before. My ideal writing environment is my room with good music playing and a nice mocha by my side (or as I know it, my bestest and most constant companion). I also am a fidgeter, though, so I like to have a deck of cards to shuffle when I need to have something to do with my hands while I think.I’ve never really experienced writer’s block. However, I suffer from extreme cases of Reviser’s Block.

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

I feel like this is almost an entirely intuitive process. It’s just a deep feeling that something is done. Though, I think this has led me astray before: in that I often think things are never done.

Who is your favorite author (fiction writer or poet), and what draws you to their work?

This is too hard to answer! I find Colson Whitehead to be one of my favorite of authors, though, because he does such amazing things with dialogue and humor and mixing of genres and his work is often really subtly devastating.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently revising a novel about stage magic, finishing up my poetry thesis for my MFA, and working on an interlinked collection of sci-fi stories and flash fiction pieces.

Where can we find more information about you?

I blog under the moniker Pints and Cupcakes. And I also tweet (way, way too much) about food, television, and reading @PintsNCupcakes

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