Contributor Spotlight: Sarah Kasbeer

sarah kasbeerSarah Kasbeer’s piece, “Lincoln vs. The Lakes” appears in Midwestern Gothic Issue 23, out now.

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

I grew up in central Illinois, lived in Chicago briefly after college, and then moved to the east coast. Since I spent most of my life in the Midwest, it shines through in my writing — via scenery, characters, and dialogue.

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

The people, hands down. We are our most valuable export. I feel an instant bond with the Midwesterners, wherever I encounter them.

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?

Place plays an important role in triggering emotional memories for me. Because my parents moved to the west coast while I was in college, I haven’t spent much time in my hometown since. It’s kind of like my childhood memories have been preserved in a time capsule. Maybe I write to release them.

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

I usually think about an idea for a while before I start writing — and have a couple of other pieces I’m also working on. Procrastinating on one is the easiest way to motivate me to work on another. If I really don’t feel like writing, I read, which almost always inspires me. Also: must have coffee.

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

I decide it’s done when I’ve reached a point where it’s not going to get any better without becoming an entirely new piece of writing (unfortunately, sometimes that needs to happen). I try to revisit it over a few months — and let enough time pass to be able to trust myself as an editor.

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

Since I write nonfiction, I’m going to choose Jo Ann Beard, who is a novelist and essayist (and also from Illinois). I love her dry sense of humor and sentence-level precision. From a craft standpoint, I’m particularly interested in her use of imagery to guide the reader toward deeper meaning.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on a book of personal essays.

Where can we find more information about you?

You can find links to my work on my website or find me @sarahkasbeer.

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