A warm and cozy welcome to today's guest poster, Tara Ison, author of
A Child Out of Alcatraz!!
A Child Out of Alcatraz!!
AM: What inspired you to become a writer?
TI: Tropes! Really - it wasn't the opportunity for creative expression, or intellectual wrangling, or any passion for sentences and stories - it was every "writer cliche" in the world. When I was a kid/adolescent I absolutely adored movies that showed writers and the writing life, because it looked so glamorous and intense: long sunset walks on the beach in front of a charming Cape Cod house; the Parisian garret; the writer's furrowed brow and slug of Scotch; the black manual typewriter going plunk plunk plunk. And the great sloppy classic clothes! Complicated relationships with complicated lovers! Cocktails at the Algonquin with your sassy editor! I wanted to be a writer long before I started to write.
Of course, the "writing life" is nothing like those superficial images, but by the time I realized I wasn't going to be living on cigarettes and sex and wine in a Parisian garret, I actually had fallen in love (well, love/hate) with the actual writing process: the opportunity for creative expression, the intellectual wrangling, the passion for sentences and stories...
If there was anything else you could do (other than writing) what would that be?
Professional knitter. I am an obsessive, compulsive knitter. Which has a relationship to the writing, I think - I get very meditative when I knit, and usually I'm meditating on some tangle of story or character that has frustrated me (and sent me fleeing from my computer to the couch with needles and yarn.) Knitting allows me to physically "work things out," to create something in a non-intellectual/literary, more concrete/tangible way. I feel satisfied and fulfilled and accomplished watching the rows take shape, and then I return to the computer...where I usually find the tangle has untangled there, too.
Who, or what, is the driving force that keeps you going?
As I said, writing for me is a true love/hate relationship - I would rather do absolutely anything than sit down to write - a combination of laziness and the evil, discouraging voices in my head, I suppose - but when I finally do, I go fugue-state. Hours disappear and then I blink awake again and stumble to the kitchen for food. There are only two things that actually get me in the chair: a deadline (usually), and something I simply cannot shake out of my head: an image, a sentence, a little speck of sand or pebble in my shoe I try to ignore but that turns out to be a tiny tiny jewel I am forced to reckon with and focus on and nurture as the most beautiful shining thing in the world.
What is your viewpoint on the current publishing trends?
Oy. Trying to stay optimistic. I actually am, though - I think small/indie presses are on the side of the angels, now, the true believers in challenging, innovative literature, and they are amazing. But I really do struggle with the relationship of literature and technology - I try to appreciate the "ebook" as a tool for increased accessibility, but a book, to me, will always be paper and ink, tactile, sensual, the literal object.
Do you have any upcoming events or book promotions?
I do - a new novel coming in June 2013 from Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press, called Rockaway. It's about an artist who has sort of exiled herself to a beach house in Rockaway, NY, for a summer to try and figure out her life (family issues, her work, an odd new relationship with a older musician.) There you go - an artist walking on the beach! (She's a painter, not a writer, though...) I wrote it before Hurricane Sandy, and what's happened there is so heartbreaking - Rockaway got hit hard. I hope in some small way, the book honors that incredible community. Thank you for asking!
About the Author:
Tara Ison is also the author of the novel The List (Scribner, 2007), Rockaway, forthcoming from Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press, and the short story collection Ball to be published by Red Hen Press. Her short fiction, essays, poetry and book reviews have appeared in Tin House, The Kenyon Review, The Rumpus, Nerve.com, Black Clock, Publisher's Weekly, The Week magazine, The Mississippi Review, LA Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune, the San Jose Mercury News, and numerous anthologies. Tara is also the co-writer of the cult movie Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead. She is the recipient of many awards, including a 2008 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship and a 2008 COLA Individual Artist Grant. Ison received her MFA in Fiction & Literature from Bennington College and is currently Assistant Professor of Fiction at Arizona State University.
Tara Ison would love to discuss the book directly: email@example.com, @AlcatrazChild on Twitter
For press inquiries and review copies please contact:
Darlene Chan firstname.lastname@example.org, 323.839.2788