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Laura Dorwart’s piece “Ohio” appears in Midwestern Gothic‘s Summer 2018 issue, out now.
What’s your connection to the Midwest, and how has the region influenced your writing?
I currently live in Ohio, where my husband is a professor. Half of my family is from northern Michigan, where they live now, and my husband’s family is from the Midwest as well (Iowa and Nebraska). I appreciate the Midwest for its simultaneous hardiness and tenderness and its embrace of ambivalence, and I think a lot of that comes out in my writing.
What do you think is the most compelling aspect of the Midwest?
It’s a study in contradictions, at once dense and awash in empty space. In some spots, it’s also one of the most affordable regions in the U.S. in terms of housing, which seems a bit banal to mention but is really key to the dynamics here, and the life we can live here that we would absolutely not be able to anywhere else.
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?
We recently drove through Friend, Nebraska, where my husband’s great-great-grandfather was a doctor and his great-grandfather was a dentist, and I was obsessed. I wanted to write several novels based in Friend. You can imagine a whole constellation of parallel lives in the Midwest, one in each town. I’m very into constellations and parallels, and ice cream. There’s always very good ice cream here.
Discuss your writing process—inspirations, ideal environments, how you deal with writer’s block.
Manic and impulsive (seriously). I don’t think I’ve ever found my ideal writing environment, but if I did, it would involve a lot of coffee and twinkling lights. And slightly haunting rainforest sounds. Something at the intersection of café, children’s museum, haunted house, and spa room.
How can you tell when a piece of writing is finished?
When I’m spent and exhausted, I turn my attention to something else, and usually that turns into a new project.
Who is your favorite author (fiction writer or poet), and what draws you to their work?
I can’t pick just one, but I love authors whose work is fleshly and primal: Lidia Yuknavitch, Roxane Gay, Kathy Fish, and Kathy Acker come to mind. In terms of poetry, I love Judy Grahn and Victoria Chang.
What’s next for you?
We have an 11-month-old daughter, so that’s kind of a perpetual “next.” I have pieces coming out in Riggwelter Press and elsewhere, and am working as a full-time freelance writer. It’s going surprisingly well.
Where can we find more information about you?
My website is www.lauradorwart.com, and my Twitter handle is @lauramdorwart.