A Conversation With Debut Author Carmiel Banasky

Carmiel Banasky

Carmiel Banasky

By Daniel Ford

Carmiel Banasky’s debut novel, The Suicide of Claire Bishop, has garnered rave reviews from the likes of author Colum McCann, Publisher’s Weekly, and Kirkus Reviews. Her book also landed on last month’s “5 Books That Should Be On Your Radar!”

Banasky recently answered some of my questions about her journey as a writer, what inspired The Suicide of Claire Bishop, and why authors should always be kind.

Daniel Ford: Did you grow up wanting to become a writer, or is it something that grew organically over time?

Carmiel Banasky: I remember saying (when I was five?) that I either wanted to be a writer or a Broadway star! I was a dreamer if nothing else. But somewhere along the way, I forgot about those pursuits until college, where I realized I was a not a great actor, but I could write. I majored in creative writing but I always shied away from saying I wanted to be a writer or that I was a writer. I sensed I wasn’t good enough yet. After undergrad, I tried my hand at grassroots organizing, and attempted to open a Planned Parenthood branch in Oxford, Miss.—I failed. But that’s when I learned to listen, and learned how important being a good listener is to writing. Catching the nuances. I wanted to document (by fictionalizing) the stories I was told that were so insular, that would never be heard by anyone but those in that room. (There’s something to be said for ephemeral beauty, but that’s another discussion.) I was afraid it would come off as exploitative, but what came out wasn’t half bad, and passed the permission test with local friends. A little while later, those became my first published stories (in Glimmer Train). I moved to New York City “to write” vs. “to be a writer,” and eventually fell into the MFA path, which I resisted for a while. While at Hunter College, I was finally given permission (or gave myself permission) to call myself a writer. So that’s a long-winded way of saying: I think the desire to “become a writer” revealed itself over time. Now I try to “grant permission” to my students to call themselves writers no matter where they are in the process—being a writer does not necessarily mean being a published author. The identity can be empowering. Why not claim it?

DF: Who were some of your early influences?

CB: Ursula K. LeGuin was very important to me. I had never felt so attached to and invested in fictional characters until I read The Left Hand of Darkness. I spent weeks composing a letter to her, as beautiful a letter as I could craft. And she wrote back. (And told me the letter was indeed beautiful.) We wrote back and forth a handful of times, and though our brief correspondence had little to do with writing, it had a huge impact on the kind of writer I wanted to be: LeGuin makes her own rules, has never followed industry trends, is successful in any genre she tries her hand at, and doesn’t shy away from the political underpinnings of all writing. Tenacity, bravery, and prowess are evident in everything she puts out there.

John Fowles was another writer like that for me—he made me want to write by showing me what fiction is for: connection. His character Miranda, in The Collector, was one of those characters that made me feel less alone in one of my youthful I-don’t-belong-here phases at the start of college. And earlier still, books like The Stranger and Franny and Zoey were very important during the angsty high school years. They revealed how strange fiction could be—what the rules were and that they were there to be broken. Salinger was probably my first craft-teacher. Study every last page of his—that’s how you learn to write a great ending to a short story.

DF: What is your writing process like? Do you listen to music? Outline?

CB: My process has changed over time. I was a “residency rat” for many years—hopping from one writing fellowship to the next. Residencies provide a beautiful space and all the time in the world. Writers and artists all around you are working hard at their desks for ten hours a day, so you better do the same! But now that I have a job, and a room of my own, I prefer a more structured writing schedule, which means less hours at the desk per day. Yet! It seems like the same amount of work somehow gets done…I hope.

For my next book, I am outlining for the first time. I wrote for a bit, found the voice, then stepped away to determine where the story was going. It’s the first time I’ve done that, and it feels good—freeing rather than limiting. The story can shift away from the outline as I write, or stay on the path. Usually, without an outline, I discovered the story as I go. This is also a fine way to go about it, but I have run into plot holes in revision that maybe I wouldn’t have otherwise.

I sometimes listen to music without lyrics while I write, but not often. I wish I had more time in my life for music! But I don’t want the emotion of the music to inform the piece I’m writing, unless I’m really looking for that push.

DF: We’re huge fans of the short story genre here at Writer’s Bone. Your fiction has been published on Glimmer Train, PEN America, American Short Fiction, Slice, Guernica, and others. What is it about the format that appeals to you?

CB: I loved writing my novel (or I wouldn’t have stuck with it for so long) and so far I love my current one (which might even end up being two books). But for me the main pro and con to the form is that the novel is so abstractly huge: it can take any kind of turn, down any street in any year. The Suicide of Claire Bishop is written in two voices and spans many decades. It was such a large story that it took a long time for me to be able to see it as a whole, to hold the whole map of it in my head at once. But the novella! The novella tends to be expansive but not overwhelming. And I certainly have a soft spot in my heart for short stories, which I won’t ever stop writing I hope.

However, despite inclinations, I don’t feel like I have much choice in the matter. I never choose to sit down and write a story or a novel because I feel like writing in one form over the other. I choose the content, and the content dictates the form. I even resisted writing a novel for a time; I wanted to be like Borges and only write short stories. But I just hadn’t found the material that lets itself be known it can be nothing other than a novel. I know some writers turn short stories into novels, and it often works well (Karen Russell’s Swamplandia comes to mind). But I’ve always felt like I can see exactly what form and length a subject matter is going to take, probably before I’ve gotten to page two.

DF: What inspired you to write your debut novel, The Suicide of Claire Bishop?

CB: In The Suicide of Claire Bishop, there are two narrators—Claire Bishop and West Butler—with intertwining narratives. Both came from very different places but with many thematic overlaps.

Frida Kahlo was commissioned to paint a commemorative portrait of Dorothy Hale, a woman who had committed suicide. Instead, she painted the act of her jumping from a building. It was crass and beautiful. That anecdote was the impetus for Claire Bishop’s plot line: Claire sits for her portrait, but the painter instead depicts the image of her potential suicide—jumping from the Brooklyn Bridge.

I have had two friends diagnosed with schizophrenia. Their experiences, which they shared with me, were, among many other adjectives, surprising and new to me. I had never read anything quite like it in literature, especially not in first-person. The images of schizophrenia we see in the media often involve violence—it isn’t news otherwise, the logic goes. (The same can be said for many underrepresented populations.) The impetus for West was to create a character who is relatable, loveable, and empathetic. I wanted his disease to be one of many characteristics, and never to act as a barrier between him and a reader. Rather, I wanted his spectrum of “strange” and “normal” to be an invitation to connect. I hope all readers, both those who have experienced something similar and those to whom mental illness is foreign, to recognize themselves in him.

DF: What were some of the themes you wanted to tackle in the novel?

CB: Like many writers, I suppose, I’m obsessed with the idea of the self, and how elusive that concept is. How do we know ourselves? What does it mean to be me vs. you? Where are we separate? Where do we overlap? These questions of identity are definitely tackled in my novel (and seem to be creeping into my new work as well). Does a diagnosis define who you are? What do you do when the only story you’ve had about yourself turns out to be false?

Mental illness, religion, faith, love, marriage, family—these themes are also in there and are probably all sub-themes to the question of self-knowledge.

DF: How much of yourself—and the people you have daily interactions with—did you put into your main characters in The Suicide of Claire Bishop? How do you develop your characters in general?

CB: My characters are usually a conflation of anecdotes/stories I hear about other people, and magnified or almost caricaturized aspects of my own neuroses, fears, and ideas. I’ve never written autobiographically. The idea for West was to create a character that looks like my friends with mental illness, but who isn’t them. By that I mean it’s hard for many people outside of the mainstream, people of color, subcultures, etc., to find a character in literature/film that looks like them, even if other aspects of those characters are relatable. That is an important and powerful gift that literature can give anyone, especially those who are marginalized: here is someone who looks like you who deserves to have a novel written about them.

DF: How long did it take you to write the novel, land an agent, and publish it?

CB: I’ve been working on The Suicide of Claire Bishop for six years—from first conception to between covers. I wrote the first draft in grad school, revised for four years after that, found my agent in the summer of 2013, revised with her a couple months, sold the book a few months after that (winter 2014), revised on and off for the next year with my editor, and here we are. I wrote other things in that time as well, but the novel was always the focus.

DF: Your debut has gotten some serious love from the likes of author Colum McCann, Publisher’s Weekly, and Kirkus Reviews. What has that experience been like and what’s next for you?

CB: Publishing a novel is weird! I’ve been working on this thing by myself for so long in a very private sphere (with many writers friends, and my editor and agent helping me of course)—and now it is out there in the world. It’s public. It’s a very strange, abstract, anxiety-provoking experience for me! But I’m also proud to see this culmination of really hard work.

And no one tells you how just much self-promotion/hustling goes into it. It’s exhausting and uncomfortable but absolutely necessary, no matter what kind of press you’re with. This is a different kind of hard work, which feels like it has little to do with writing. But as a novelist friend said recently, you’ve spent years on your book, it deserves a few months of your energy to promote it. Luckily I’ve had friends and mentors telling me how it works throughout the process—in particular my friend, Scott Cheshire. I think every writer with a book coming out needs one champion and guide through it all. I hope to pay this kindness forward someday soon.

In the end, it’s about the personal face-to-face (or email-to-email at least) connections that you forge. I feel gratitude like I’ve never felt before—for my teachers like Colum McCann and Claire Messud, for my agent Carrie and my editor and publicist at Dzanc. They work so hard and are so good at what they do! And it’s about that sense of accomplishment. That’s the ongoing practice: it’s hard for me to pat myself on the back—the reptilian brain is always waiting for the other shoe to drop. To get to say, “I made that,” is a great lesson.

And what’s next? Hopefully, after the book tour, and being out there, I’ll get to regroup in my room alone like the introvert I am, with my awesome standing desk and view of Los Angeles, and get back to writing fiction. I am yearning to get back to work on the next book.

DF: What’s your advice to aspiring authors?

CB: Be kind! That includes being kind to yourself. That berating voice—“I’m not writing enough,” “I’m not good enough,” etc., etc.—doesn’t aid the work. It doesn’t make you a better person or writer. As soon as I gave myself permission to write less or to write badly, I started writing more, and with more freedom. You have to show up at the desk to get the work done, of course, but once you are there, it won’t do you any harm, no matter how cheesy, to take a deep breath and remind yourself that you’re awesome.

DF: Can you please name one random fact about yourself?

CB: I make chocolate—it’s delicious and easy. Coconut oil, cocoa powder, salt, honey. Maybe a dash of vanilla. If I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll make homemade cashew-butter chocolate cups. Mmm.

To learn more about Carmiel Banasky, visit her official website or follow her on Twitter @CarmielBanasky.


A Conversation With Author Louise Walters

Louise Walters (Photo credit: Ian Walters)

Louise Walters (Photo credit: Ian Walters)

By Daniel Ford

Author Louise Walters’ Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase features a dual timeline novel set alternately in the early 1940s and modern-day Britain, love and betrayal, and rich, earthy characters. The novel, which comes out Aug. 4, was hailed by Kirkus Reviews as being “a breathtaking, beautifully crafted tale of loves that survive secrets.”

Walters recently talked to me about her love of reading, the inspiration for Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase, and how her writing process always starts with a character.

Daniel Ford: When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?    

Louise Walters: At a young age. I have loved reading for as long as I can remember and attempting to write as well as read always felt like a natural progression. However, I lacked self-belief for many years and I didn’t begin to write seriously until I was in my thirties, when I wrote poems. In my forties I finally felt ready to seriously attempt a novel.

DF: Who were some of your early influences?    

LW: Reading was, and still is, my favourite thing. Many writers and books influenced me—Noel Streatfeild, especially Ballet Shoes; The Chalet School books by Elinor M Brent-Dyer; L M Montgomery’s Anne books, Penelope Lively’s A Stitch in Time. The Katy books by Susan Coolidge were particular favourites. I read voraciously. Childhood reading has influenced my whole life, not just my writing life.

DF: What is your writing process like? Do you listen to music? Outline? 

LW: I start with a character, always. I tend to think about them for a while, inventing them in my imagination. I juggle quite a lot of characters and stories at the moment! The writing process is quite difficult, especially the first draft. I find it hard to get going on a project and usually end up with around a 60,000-word first draft, which is a little too short. But I breathe a sigh of relief if I get to the magical 60,000 because then I have the material to work with, and can start the shaping end editing process. I usually have an ending in mind but have to find my way through to it.

I do listen to music. Sometimes for inspiration, I will listen to my favourites, just to make me feel good—Kate Bush puts me in a positive frame of mind—but I also listen to music for research and to help with the “feel” of a project. When writing Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase I listened to Billie Holiday constantly. 

DF: As a history buff, I love historical fiction, so I’m always interested in up-and-coming writers who delve into the genre. Did your writing style mesh well with historical fiction or was it just something that appealed to you?    

LW: I don’t regard myself as a historical writer, actually. But I can’t imagine writing a novel without delving into my characters’ pasts. We are all a product of every day of our lives so far and I love exploring my characters’ histories.  

DF: How did the idea for Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase originate?    

LW: I have a suitcase with a label inside which reads “Mrs. D. Sinclair” and I remember thinking Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase would make a great title for a novel. I started to wonder about this Mrs. Sinclair. I also found a letter in a book written by a Polish Squadron Leader during World War II. I kind of put those two unknown, unconnected people together and invented a narrative for them. I also once worked in a second hand bookshop, which was the inspiration for the bookshop in the novel. And I once lived in a cottage in rural Lincolnshire, which bore quite a resemblance to Dorothy’s cottage.

DF: What were some of the themes you wanted to tackle in the novel?

LW: I wasn’t really aware of any themes, at least to begin with. I was just trying to write the story. As I worked more on it and became more familiar with the world of the story, I became aware that motherhood, in all its guises, was pretty much the theme. 

DF: How much of yourself—and the people you have daily interactions with—did you put into your main characters? How do you develop your characters in general?

LW: My characters are invention. I don’t base them on real people, certainly not wholesale. I borrow traits from people I know or have known. Also expressions. For instance, when Dorothy gives the baby a wash she refers to it as a “lick and a promise,” which is a phrase my mother used when I was a child. I think if I’m honest there is quite a lot of “me” in most of my characters. But essentially I make people up, which is such a fun thing to do.

DF: You’ve had a bunch of different jobs while you pursued your dream of becoming a writer, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask if you had a favorite or a story from one of them you hold dear (or not so dear).     

LW: I worked in a secondhand bookshop for six years and that was my favourite job. I met a lot of interesting people during that time. A few famous people popped in from time to time, which was quite exciting! And like Roberta in the novel, I enjoyed finding things left behind in second hand books.  

DF: What’s your advice to aspiring authors?    

LW: I think it’s important to love reading and to read a lot. I read whenever I get the opportunity and I read while I’m writing too. If I write and don’t read, I feel too disengaged from the art I’m trying to participate in. I know not all writers feel that way, but for me I have to read often while I’m working on a novel. I don’t worry about somebody else’s writing influencing mine. Actually, I welcome it. Never be afraid to beg, borrow and steal techniques, it’s the best way to learn and to find your way to your own voice and style.  

DF: Can you please name one random fact about yourself?    

LW: I am currently working on a patchwork quilt for my daughter. I started work on it years ago but have promised it will be ready for this Christmas. It’s entirely hand sewn and I’m very behind schedule!

To learn more about Louise Walters, visit her official website, like her Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter @LouiseWalters12.


Perry Mason Disciple: 10 Questions With Crime Writer J.T. Ellison

J.T. Ellison

J.T. Ellison

By Sean Tuohy

You know those things that go bump in the night? Most of us tend to hide under the covers. The New York Times best-selling author J.T. Ellison runs toward the sound with a flashlight in one hand and a note pad in the other.

With the help of favorite television lawyer Perry Mason, Ellison took her love for the macabre and mystery a step further and began writing novels about killers, cops, and everything in between. Her next novel, The Lost Key, was written with Catherine Coulter and comes out Sept. 30.

I sat down with Ellison to talk about her career, Perry Mason, and what the future holds.

ST: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

JTE: I read very early, and was advanced for my age. So I was probably 8 years old and was writing some poetry and little short stories. I received my first rejection at 10 years old. My grandmother sent a poem I’d written to True Confessions magazine. Of course they said no…it was about slavery!

ST: You lived in rural Colorado and than moved to Washington D.C. Did this have an affect on your writing later in life?

JTE: I think it did. I was very sheltered in Colorado. We lived on a dirt road 40 minutes from the nearest town. There was a great group of über-smart people around, but it was small, and while my parents were wonderful about exposing me to culture, D.C. was so much more accessible and immediate. Politics permeated every discussion. We could go to the symphony and opera all the time, and did. There were so many different kinds of people, from all over the world. It was incredibly different, and helped round me out.

ST: How long did it take you to complete your first novel?

JTE: About a year. I did six months of research before I started writing. But I had a lot of stops and starts until I settled down to it full-time in 2003.

ST: Can you describe what influence Perry Mason had on your writing?

JTE: I thought Perry Mason was God when I was growing up—not a god, but God himself. No flowing beards and pearly gates. When I said my nightly prayers, it was a sober man in a black suit I was talking to. That may be where my crime fiction fascination came from.

ST: What draws you to crime fiction? Is it the mystery, the characters, the problem solving?

JTE: All of it. I’m fascinated by how awful people can be to one another. How cutthroat and mean and deadly. And how some people will fight to stop those capable of committing such heinous acts. I like white hats and black hats, like examining the why behind the crimes and the effect crime has on normal people.

ST: What is your writing process like?

JTE: I write daily, and shoot for 1,000 words a day. I do business first thing and really settle into my writing day around 10:00 a.m. or 11:00 a.m. I write until my husband gets home, with an hour break for lunch. I definitely do my best work in the late afternoon. I am not a morning person. There’s a lot of tea being pumped into my system.

ST: Do you have an in-depth research process?

JTE: I used to. I did a lot of hands-on work—ride-alongs, autopsies, and interviewing everyone I could find. Now it’s catch as catch can, skimming the important parts and supplementing on the go as I write. I have a great assistant who can grab details for me, and I read a lot of non-fiction. So much of my work is topical, sometimes too topical. So I can do research by reading the daily news.

ST: What does the future hold for J.T. Ellison?

JTE: More books, and more writing. I have a few more under contract right now, and ideas for more to come. The mass market of When Shadows Fall releases Aug. 26, the mass market of my first collaboration book, The Final Cut, with Catherine Coulter, comes out Sept. 2. The Lost Key, also with Catherine, comes out Sept. 30, and my next Dr. Samantha Owens book is due out in June 2015. No rest for the wicked, eh?

ST: What advice do you give to up and coming writers?

JTE: Read everything you can get your hands on. Read in your genre so you know what’s out there and what the standards are. Read Stephen King’s On Writing and Elizabeth George’s Write Away. Make lists. Journal. Anytime something strikes your fancy, write it down. Work everyday. Guard your writing time, it is your most precious commodity. Don’t give up. Simultaneously submit. Believe in yourself. If you’re hitting roadblocks, read The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield. If you have real writer’s block, try The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

ST: Can you tell us one random fact about yourself?

JTE: I like golf. I am inches from being a crazy cat lady. And I am a really good shot with a pistol (Did I mention I am not a fan of math?).

To learn more about J.T. Ellison, check out her official website, like her Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter @thrillerchick.

The Writer's Bone Interviews Archive

Upheaval and Innovation: Author Shawn Vestal On Writing and the Current State of Journalism

Shawn Vestal

Shawn Vestal

By Daniel Ford

Perusing through The New York Times Book Review recently, I came across a book with a title that I loved instantly.

Godforsaken Idaho.

I don’t know why it hit me the way it did, but when things like that happen, you don’t question it and immediately email the writer to see if he or she is willing to sit down for an interview.

Author Shawn Vestal was more than willing and provided insight into his praised collection of short stories, his writing process, and the current state of journalism.

Daniel Ford: When did you start writing? Was it something that came to you naturally or was it developed over time?

Shawn Vestal: I always had an interest in language and reading, from a very early age, and my teachers often encouraged me and praised my writing. So I would imagine it was kind of twofold—I had an interest/aptitude, and then I developed it. I wrote my first poems and stories when I was in high school and college, but I sort of dinked around with that kind of writing while working as a journalist as a young adult. I didn’t work on it as hard as I could have.

DF: What is your writing process like? Do you outline? Listen to music?

SV: I just open the laptop and go. Usually, I’m sitting on the little couch in my office at home, but sometimes I’ll move around. I never listen to music while writing, and I try to write for a sustained period before ever dipping a toe into email or the Internet. More and more, I recognize the crucial importance of the time I spend away from the keyboard, thinking about what I’m working on, unconsciously preparing for the next burst of writing. Because my week is divided between journalism and fiction-writing, I usually have gaps of a few days between fiction writing, and in those gaps I try to think through problems or spend time in the mind of the characters. Often, I write quickly and for an appallingly short period of time –a three-hour bout at the keyboard is about as far as I can go, in terms of breaking fresh imaginative ground—and I often write less than that in a sitting, though I can edit and tinker for longer.

DF: As someone who was trained as a journalist and made a living at it for a couple of years, I have to ask what you think of the current state of journalism and why was it something you pursued when you first started out? Also, what’s the most entertaining story you ever worked on?

SV: I fell into journalism accidentally. I was an English major at the University of Idaho in the 1980s, and I dropped out, intending to earn money and return. Instead, I took a job at my hometown weekly newspaper and found that I really loved the work. I moved around the West to different papers, and have now settled at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash. , where I am a columnist. It’s a pretty great job. I feel very lucky to have it.

The current state of the business is, of course, struggling. I think that newspapers in particular have seen their means of earning money—and therefore paying for journalism—suffer, and we’re going through a time of all sorts of upheaval and innovation. It’s been bad news, so far at least, for the kind of deeper, investigative reporting at the community and state level. But I’m not sure what journalism will look like eventually. Those of us weaned on the old model frankly don’t have the eyes to imagine it. I think that the essence of journalism, and not the business of it, is what is crucial: reporting on the powerful, serving citizens, and holding government accountable. There is too little truly excellent journalism in the world, but that is not new. I think that the demise of old forms of media don’t at all mean that journalism will go away.

DF: How much of yourself—and the people you have daily interactions with—did you put into your main characters?

SV: I suppose I put only myself into my characters—it’s all I have, really. But I very rarely do it directly and I have never “fictionalized” a real person who I know—taken a real person or circumstance and made a story out of it. What happens is, in the course of invention, I draw upon my own experiences, and so I use bits and pieces of people and my past to patch things together.

DF: We’re big fans of the short story here at Writer’s Bone. What drew you to write short stories originally and why do you think this mode of storytelling is so compelling to readers?

SV: I loved Flannery O’Connor in high school, and Raymond Carver a short while after that. Both made me want to write stories myself. I think there’s something about the compressed impact a great story can have—such potency and such brevity—that I simply want to keep trying to write a great one.

DF: Your collection of short stories “Godforsaken Idaho” has garnered positive reviews since its release in April 2013. How did you go about compiling the stories you wanted to include?

SV: I looked at the stories I had published that I thought were the strongest, and then tried to consider how, or whether, they fit together. Several of my stories have Mormon elements in them, and that became a unifying thread. Ultimately, I organized the stories to move backward in time – from a future afterlife to a fictionalized story about the founder of the Mormon Church in the 1800s. The stories are loosely connected and organized. I want it to feel unified, but it stops well short of a strongly linked collection like Jesus Son or Olive Kittredge.

DF: Having never been to Idaho, what, if anything, do I need to know about the state before I dive into “Godforsaken Idaho?”

SV: For one thing, the Idaho of the book and the title is not the Idaho. It’s not my comment on the state; it’s meant to convey two elements of the book: a sense of existential isolation of many of the characters, and the surreal or extreme types of things that are included, whether it’s an afterlife or a haunting.

DF: When you finished “Godforsaken Idaho,” did you know you had something good right away and how did you go about getting it published?

SV: I never know if I have anything good. I still wish I could revise some things in the stories. The book was published by the more or less traditional route. I got an agent, who submitted the book to publishers, and she persuaded one of them to bite.

DF: What’s next for you following the success of “Godforsaken Idaho?”

SV: I’m trying to write a novel.

DF: What advice would you give to up-and-coming writers?

SV: A lot of very mundane things. Read and write a lot. Work hard. Do not wait around for inspiration—inspiration comes more often when you’re working than when you’re waiting. If you find yourself stuck or blocked, allow yourself to write lines of nonsense, to invent ridiculous scenarios, to write something very, very bad. Lower your standards to get yourself moving, and then raise them again in editing and revision. Find writers you can share your work with and share honest critiques with.

DF: Can you tell us one random fact about yourself?

SV: I stopped having anxiety dreams about showing up unprepared on the final day of class as a student, and started having anxiety dreams about showing up unprepared for the first day of class as the instructor.

To learn more about Shawn Vestal, visit his official website, like his Facebook page, or follow him on Twitter @vestal13.

The Writer's Bone Interviews Archive