Alex Clark-McGlenn

Read Alex Clark-McGlenn’s “The Sign For Grief Is Crow.”

1. What made you want to become a writer?

Growing up I was severely dyslexic. I didn’t read a book until I was in 8th grade. In that same year, my English teacher shared some of the works of Edgar Allan Poe and ee cummings with our class. I was so captivated by these writers, especially Poe and The Tell Tale Heart. I thought, hey, why can’t I write like that? For some reason the ambition stuck and I’ve been writing ever since.

2. What is your genre or writing style and has it changed over time?

I wouldn’t want to be clumped in with a single genre, frankly. People are multifaceted creatures, it seems strange that authors should confine themselves to one genre. As a reader I enjoy everything from Literature (yeah, with a capital L), like Cormac McCarthy, to fantasy like Patrick Rothfuss. My reading tastes, however typically hide in between these two forms of writing, such as Margaret Atwood and Haruki Murakami. Similar to my reading tastes, I try to write something I’d want to read.

3. What has helped you the most in the writing pursuit?

My MFA, which I got at the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. Sadly, the program closed down last August, but the education it gave me has made me grow as a writer like I never thought I would. While many people wonder what an MFA in creative writing is good for, NILA challenged me in so many ways. I remember my first semester in the program. I was so awed by the level of detail faculty and students gave to their work. I didn’t even know that type of care existed within writing. I wouldn’t have the understanding and passion for fiction I do today without the faculty and friends that supported me while I was in that program.

4. How would you describe your writing practice?

I don’t really think about “the writing practice,” anymore. Much of my income comes from freelance writing, which I’m thankful for. These days, if I don’t write, I don’t pay the bills–so my practice has become my job in many respects. But I wouldn’t say I enjoy it any less because of this. While it’s a job, it’s a job I love (nearly) everyday. I usually do a freewrite for myself each morning, I’m also part of a weekly critique group, which helps keep me on track. But it’s not a struggle like it once was. It just feels like my life.

5. What are you writing now?

I’m working on a novel which has gone through several drafts. Hopefully I’ll be searching for an agent in the next couple months, as I’ve gotten some good feedback from those who have read it and I believe it’s very close. I also have a short, “Lovecraftian,” horror story I’m working on. I feel it’s one of my more clever pieces, but it’s still in an early draft.

6. Where can someone find out more about your work?

My website is probably the best place to look: alexclarkmcg.com. I have links to all the magazines and anthologies I’ve been published in, such as Best New Writing 2016, eFiction, and others. I’m active on Twitter as well, @alexclarkmcg, and always appreciate some discussion on writing.

Sean Gill

Read Sean Gill’s “Past Lives, Now Available on Videocassette.”

1. What made you want to become a writer?

I wrote my first “book” at age seven. It was called Deserted! and was about twenty pages long, illustrated, comb bound, and somehow incredibly derivative of both Robinson Crusoe and the Jabba’s Palace scenes from Return of the Jedi. I went on to work in the local theater during my adolescence and began writing plays. Eventually, I became interested in film and studied it in college. By the time I’d graduated and moved to New York, I’d long ago left prose by the wayside and considered myself purely a filmmaker/playwright.

Interestingly enough, it was film that brought me back to prose. One of my most formative post-college experiences was the honor of studying with one of my cinematic heroes, Werner Herzog. Werner emphasized the importance of reading and writing (among other things, such as traveling by foot) and encouraged me to try prose again, as a kind of backbone for my film work (which is often silent and surrealistic). It began with a few experiments, then a few dozen stories, and finally, a novel. I still make films and write plays, but it’s possible that prose writing stands the tallest among my artistic interests.

2. What is your genre or writing style and has it changed over time?

My first professional stories were hard science fiction, but I haven’t revisited the genre in years. I’d say most of my recent work has been some blend of literary, magical realist, and speculative elements, though every once in a while I’m inspired and write a pure horror story, a hardboiled noir, or something that’s none of these things.

3. What has helped you the most in the writing pursuit?

Maybe it’s cliché, but I have to say reading—voracious reading. I compulsively manage my holds queue at the local library, fiction and non-fiction alike. It was the first place in my neighborhood where everybody knew my name, and now they even shout “Sean!” when I walk through the doors, like I’m Norm on Cheers.

4. How would you describe your writing practice?

Every day—even when I don’t feel like it, even when I’m working a day job—I prime the pump and write for at least twenty minutes. If nothing decent comes from the effort, I’m happy to move on to other pursuits, and there are plenty of days when that’s the case. I find that I yield my best results when I can wake up, roll out of a dream, and get straight to writing with no distractions along the way: no checking my phone, email, the news, etc.

5. What are you writing now?

I’m putting the finishing touches on my first novel, which is set in a near-future New York City and details the social unrest surrounding a controversial event known as “The Borough War.”

6. Where can we find out more about your work?

If you go to www.seangillfilms.com you can learn more about my films, my plays, and my prose—the “Publications” tab will lead you to a number of my stories that are available online.

L.P. Lee


Read L.P. Lee’s “Hibakusha” in East Asia.

1. What made you want to become a writer?

So far I’ve tended to do bursts of writing separated by sometimes quite long intervals doing something else. What makes me want to write each time is a bit different to the last. Today I like writing because my last interval away from it made me appreciate again how stimulating it is. Exercising your imagination, your critical thinking, stops you from becoming too institutionalised or complacent in how you view the world.

2. Why do you write magical realism?

I love how it’s a special space to bring intriguing, seemingly disparate ideas together, that can hopefully give a fresh perspective on the human condition. I’ve found it to be a flexible way to approach themes that have interested me at one point or another: rawness vs. maturity (‘The Jars’), outsider vs. insider (‘The White Fox’), the grounded body vs. transcendent self (‘Hibakusha’). 

That being said, I also enjoy genres like dark comedy, science fiction and historical fiction. To some extent there aren’t always boundaries and genre can be in the eye of the beholder. I’ve had the same story be published on fantasy, magical realism and horror platforms. It’s fascinating how each genre has its own traditions and motifs and seminal works, and it’s also really fun to see how we can cross borders and dabble in fusion. 

3. What has helped you the most in the writing pursuit?

Filling my life with people who are kind and interested in the world around them. Their perspectives enrich my own understanding of the world and my place within it. If I want to become a better writer, much of that is in bettering my mind and spirit.

4. How would you describe your writing practice?

Cross-legged. This is my favourite way to write. Because you can’t really sit cross-legged when out and about in the UK (except for a precious sunny day in a park), it also feels like a treat! I associate it with good memories from South Korea – sitting on beautiful silk mats when dining on delicious food, cooling off by a mountain stream in the depths of a humid summer, and drinking sweet shikhye in the lounge of a public sauna.

5. What are you writing now?

I’m working on a virtual reality project with film-maker Gaelle Mourre and a French production company.

6. Where can someone find out more about your work?

You can find out more on my website (www.l-p-lee.com) and also on Twitter (@LPLee_author) 🙂

Sandor Kovacs

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Read Sandor Kovac’s “The Girl in the Flowery Dress.”

1. What made you want to become a writer?

In my early twenties, I became the singer of a rock band, and I wrote all the lyrics. I believe, this was the point in my life when I began to enjoy the game of words.

I wrote my first short story in Hungarian (my native language) about three years ago. Of course, it wasn’t the best piece of mine, but writing it down relieved me because the idea haunted me for a long time. My friends liked it, so they encouraged me to write more. Their positive feedback was the rock that started the avalanche, and here I am, now writing in English too, hoping that once I can be a full-time professional author.

2. What is your genre or writing style and has it changed over time?

My favorite genres are horror, science fiction, and fantasy when it comes to reading. I love all of them equally. But probably I’m more like a horror, dark fantasy writer.

My style hasn’t changed yet; in fact, it’s still forming. However, I’m planning to write more sci-fi in the future.

3. What has helped you the most in the writing pursuit?

Other writers’ works and the support I’ve received from my family.

4. How would you describe your writing practice?

I make a note of my ideas into a notebook or my phone, whichever is closer to me. I pick one, research it and scribble the first draft to get it out of my head. Then, I let it rest for a while (usually for four weeks), and then I start to edit it. I go through every piece several times before I show it to anyone. Later, based on feedback, I finalize the story, copy edit it, and send it out to magazines. I write or edit something every day.

Recently, I discovered that writing went quite well when I was travelling. Since, I always make sure that I have my laptop or my notebook with me.

5. What are you writing now?

I have a few short story and flash fiction ideas, so I am working on those at the moment. Also, I am planning to self-publish a short story collection next year, titled The Apocalyptic Choir. It will contain my post-apocalyptic and dystopian themed stories.

If I manage to accomplish all these, I will begin to write my first novel. The idea is in my head, and I’m excited and afraid of starting it at the same time. But this is the nature of big projects.

6. Where can someone find out more about your work?

I’m in the process of creating my author website, where I will publish flash fictions and other interesting things. You can visit the site at sandor-kovacs.com.

Josh Rank


Read Josh Rank’s “Drowning Without Sinking.”

1. What made you want to become a writer?

I took a creative writing class in college on a whim. I found myself continually looking around to come up with ideas for stories since we had to turn in quite a lot of writing for an introductory course. After the semester was over, I missed the amount of attention the class forced me pay to my surroundings. Aside from the exercise of analyzing events and motives and emotions, I found writing helped me to appreciate things in my day-to-day life, so I continued to do it.

2. What is your genre or writing style and has it changed over time?

I stick mostly to realism. Misunderstandings, disagreements, and arguments that I don’t allow myself to have in real life can find a nice home on the page. I also think it helps me understand the people I come into contact with on a daily basis. Instead of just saying What the hell is wrong with this person? it gives me the chance to find a possible reason for baffling behavior.

My writing was more surreal when I started, to the point where my teacher was baffled I hadn’t read Franz Kafka (I have since rectified this). I still enjoy dabbling with the magical once in a while, but it’s not as prevalent as it once was.

3. What has helped you the most in the writing pursuit?

Stephen King. Not that I met him personally (although I imagine we’d be best friends if we only had the chance). Up until a few years ago, I had only managed to get one story published and I was writing intermittently, and not very well. But then I read King’s craft book On Writing and it changed not only my attitude about writing, but the way I went about doing it. The results were almost immediate. I had a dozen stories published over the following year.

4. How would you describe your writing practice?

I like to think of it as a sprint. After finding the idea for a story, I will hammer out the first draft usually in one sitting (maybe two) and then let it sit. I’ll start working on something else until I get some distance from it, then rework the next draft as quickly as the first one. Sprint, rest. Sprint, rest. There are two building drafts, then a subtraction draft (the idea of taking 10% off the word count comes directly from On Writing), then a finalizing draft. Only after the last draft will I sometimes ask my girlfriend to look it over and find out if I wasted my time or if I should send it out for consideration.

5. What are you writing now?

I’m perpetually in the middle of finishing up some short stories, but my main goal right now (besides selling the novel I wrote last year) is to write a magical realist novella. I want to get back to the idea that anything is possible and let myself go crazy with it. The hard part will be to find a reason for the magical parts so people aren’t just walking through walls for no reason besides the fact that it’s cool.

6. Where can someone find out more about your work?

I am on twitter (@jpockets) and also have a website (www.joshrank.com) where I have links to every published short story. Twitter will have the quickest updates but I could use some traffic on the website to justify its existence.

Sara Codair

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Read Sara Codair’s “You Can’t Bribe The Dead.”

1. What made you want to become a writer?

I’ve always loved to make up stories. As a child, if I got bored, I’d just run around imagining some scenario in my head. Some of the characters were original, others were borrowed from my favorite TV shows. When I would get too many stories in my head, I would write them down. The stories didn’t diminish with age. At 28, I write more than ever.

The idea that I could be an author came later, in high school, when I decided reading was actually fun and not terribly boring. Seeing how other people put their ideas on a page made me realize that I could do it too if I learned how to translate ideas from the chaotic form they are born in to coherent, well-crafted prose.

2. What is your genre or writing style and has it changed over time?

Well, realism without the magic tends to be boring. Magic without the realism can feel shallow. Usually, if I can combine the two, I can have a deep story with the fantastical elements that I love.

3. What has helped you the most in the writing pursuit?

Obsession, flash fiction, and Jim Butcher.

  • Obsession: I will give up without it. Unless I am obsessed with something, I don’t always stick with it.
  • Flash Fiction: The ability to complete a story in one sitting made finishing, polishing and revising less overwhelming.
  • Jim Butcher: On a reddit forum, he shared a fun metaphor with aspiring writers. I don’t remember the exact wording, but it was something like this: if you are in a group of people being chased by bear, you don’t need to be the fastest runner, you just need to be faster than the person next to you. This keeps me inspired despite the hundreds of rejections I have received.

4. How would you describe your writing practice?

Addiction? I write, write, and write. I can’t sleep if I don’t write. I can’t function if I don’t write. My head will explode if I don’t write. I NEED to write.

Of course, there is more to it than simply writing. There is also revision. Without revision, my stories would just be mind vomit. Revising, resting, revising, getting feedback, revising, getting more feedback, revising and editing—essentially going through lots and lots of drafts, transforms the chaotic ideas into literature.

5. What are you writing now?

My big project is my YA novel, tentatively titled Out of Focus. Its urban fantasy grounded in realism. It has magic, demons and elves, but it also has mental illness, domestic violence and awkwardness. I’ve lost track of how many drafts there have been. I need to make a few more revisions, edit it, and start sending it to agents.

In addition to that, I usually a piece of flash or a short story I’m working on. These are a good way to justify procrastination. Sending the novel out means getting rejections. I can handle short story rejections, but the novel is my baby…

6. Where can someone find out more about your work?

My website, https://saracodair.com/, has a list of my publications. If the work is available for free online, that list will have a direct link to it. If it is in a book, it will link to a place where you can buy the book. Additionally, I post micro stories or poems on my blog, along with recipes, reflections on my work as a writing teacher, and cat photos. Additionally, I tweet about writing @shatteredsmooth.

If you want to support me and other writes, you can save 10% off of an anthology I am featured in, 100 Voices, by using the coupon code 100V86 on Centum Publishing’s website: bit.ly/100VoicesV1.