Daisy Hernández is the author of A Cup of Water Under My Bed: A Memoir and coeditor of Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism. The former editor of ColorLines magazine, she has written for The Atlantic, The New York Times, and NPR’s All Things Considered and CodeSwitch, and her essays have appeared in the Bellingham Review, Fourth Genre, Gulf Coast, Hunger Mountain, The Rumpus, and Tricycle. She is an Assistant Professor in the Creative Writing Program at Miami University in Ohio.
EB: What first attracted you to writing nonfiction?
DH: It’s interesting because now that I teach nonfiction [at the college level], I start with the premise that we don’t really teach students in high school and elementary school to look at nonfiction as a genre. We’re big on fiction and poetry, but we don’t look at nonfiction in the same way, and yet we have young students engaged with nonfiction all the time through essay-writing—torturing them with it. Continue reading
Samantha Irby is the writer behind the blog bitches gotta eat and the author of Meaty: Essays (Curbside Splendor Publishing, 2013), New Year, Same Trash: Resolutions I Absolutely Did Not Keep (Vintage, 2017), and We Are Never Meeting In Real Life: Essays (Vintage, 2017). Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Rumpus, and Jezebel, among others. You can follow Irby on Twitter at @wordscience.
EB: First off, how did you start writing nonfiction? Have you always been a nonfiction person?
SI: When I was in high school I used to write fiction that was either imitating things I was reading at the time or was like fairy tales—well, not really fairy tales in the traditional sense, but thinly veiled fantasies of mine. Things like crushes I had that I wished could become real. I thought I could write them into existence maybe. I wrote fiction for a long time, but, oddly enough, writing fictional characters is more sensitive for me than writing about myself. I get real protective of my fictional people. I just couldn’t do all these things to them. Continue reading
Miranda K. Pennington is the author of A Girl Walks into a Book: What the Brontës Taught Me about Life, Love, and Women’s Work (Seal Press, 2017). Her work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar online, The Ploughshares blog, and The Catapult Podcast. Pennington received her MFA in creative nonfiction from Columbia University, where she also was a University Writing Instructor. In addition, she has taught academic writing at Touro College, SUNY Empire State, and the LEDA Institute, and she has led creative writing workshops for the AmpLit festival and Uptown Stories. This fall, Pennington will join the writing faculty of American University in Washington, D.C.
EB: How did you start writing nonfiction? Continue reading
Scaachi Koul is a senior writer for Buzzfeed News. In addition to Buzzfeed, Koul’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Hairpin, and Jezebel, among others. Her debut collection of essays, One Day We’ll All Be Dead And None Of This Will Matter, was published by Doubleday Canada and Picador USA in May 2017. You can follow her on Twitter at @scaachi. Koul is based in Toronto.
EB: How did you start writing in general and nonfiction in particular?
SK: I don’t have any other transferable skills. The only thing I can do is write. If there was another option I would have picked something that required less self-loathing. I’m also a really bad liar—I’m not great at inventing narratives that feel honest. I’ve never been able to see a way to do that. My existence has been rife with its own pains—I don’t need to make stuff up right now. I started writing around twelve, thirteen, fourteen. I had a lot of journals and a lot of feelings. And that created this perfect storm that I have yet to escape. Continue reading
Mary Mann is the author of Yawn: Adventures in Boredom. Her essays and criticism have appeared in Smithsonian, The New York Times, The Believer, and The Los Angeles Review of Books, among other publications, and she holds an MFA from Columbia University’s writing program. Mann is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Fellowship and a 2015 CATWALK Art Residency, and she is the associate editor of the New York Times bestselling collection Women in Clothes. She is currently employed as a writing associate at The Cooper Union. Mann lives in New York with her fiancé, Grant, and dog, Maya.
EB: How did you start writing nonfiction?
MM: I moved to New York because I wanted to do some writing for somebody somewhere. I loved to read. If I wasn’t writing, I wanted to be editing something—I wanted to be involved with words. I wanted to be in that world. And I moved into nonfiction because that’s just how things shook out. I had an internship at The Onion when I first started out. Obviously those stories are not real, but they treat it like journalism—writers spit-balling stuff off each other. I liked that world. I got a copyediting job after that. I wasn’t crazy about it, and that’s when I applied to Columbia, because that was when I decided I wanted to do something different. I applied to the nonfiction program because it felt natural. I feel like I don’t have a good answer. Continue reading
Sarah Dickenson Snyder is poet based in Massachusetts and Vermont. She is the author of The Human Contract (Kelsay Books, 2017) and the chapbook Notes from a Nomad (Finishing Line Press, 2017). Snyder’s poetry and prose have appeared in Bloodroot Literary Magazine, Teachers & Writers Magazine, Comstock Review, Damfino Press, Chautauqua, West Trade Review, The Main Street Rag, and Passager, among other magazines and anthologies. In May of 2016, she was a 30/30 Poet for Tupelo Press, and she has been selected to be part of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. In addition to writing poetry, Snyder worked as an English teacher for thirty-seven years.
EB: First off, congratulations on your two books of poetry coming out this year! Do you primarily identify as a poet?
SDS: I write some prose—I had a piece recently in in Teachers & Writers Magazine about teaching writing, which is the first chapter of a book I’m playing around with. The book is tentatively called Teacher Land and it’s about the things I’ve learned from my years of teaching—something a beginning teacher might read. I’ve really enjoyed writing it, and I do like writing prose, but, really, I feel more like a poet. Continue reading