Mandy Len Catron is the author of How To Fall In Love With Anyone: A Memoir in Essays. Originally from Appalachian Virginia, Catron now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, The Rumpus, and The Walrus, as well as literary journals and anthologies. Her essay for the New York Times Modern Love series (“To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This”) was one of the most popular articles published by the New York Times in 2015. Catron writes about love and love stories at The Love Story Project, and she teaches English and creative writing at the University of British Columbia. You can follow Catron on Twitter (@LenMandy), and on Instagram (@LenMandy) to see her drawings and photos of her dog, Roscoe.
EB: How did you begin writing in general and writing nonfiction specifically? Continue reading
Michelle Kuo was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan to immigrants from Taiwan. After graduating with a degree in Social Studies and Gender Studies from Harvard College, she joined Teach for America and moved to the rural town of Helena, Arkansas, located in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. Kuo’s memoir, Reading with Patrick, is about her time teaching in Helena and, later, returning to the Delta to help one of her students after he is imprisoned for murder. Kuo teaches in the History, Law, and Society program at the American University of Paris on issues related to race, punishment, immigration, and the law. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, the LA Review of Books, Poets & Writers magazine, and Literary Hub, among others. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @kuokuomich.
EB: What drew you to writing nonfiction? Continue reading
Sarah Perry is the author of After the Eclipse: A Mother’s Murder, A Daughter’s Search, a memoir about her mother Crystal’s murder when Perry was twelve and the subsequent over-a-decade-long investigation. Perry holds an M.F.A. in nonfiction from Columbia University, where she served as publisher of Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art and was a member of the journal’s nonfiction editorial board. She is the recipient of a Writers’ Fellowship from the Edward F. Albee Foundation and a Javits Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Education, and has attended residencies at Norton Island in Maine and PLAYA in Oregon. Perry’s prose has appeared in Blood & Thunder magazine, Bluestockings Literary Journal, Elle.com, and The Guardian. She lives in Brooklyn and should not be confused with the British author Sarah Perry.
EB: How did you begin writing nonfiction?
SP: I was a self-identified writer as a kid, a big nerd, and as I mention in my book, I liked to write stories. But after my mom died, it became not fun anymore—the trauma of the incident had filled up my imagination. I always wanted to get back, though. I wrote bad poetry in high school, like we all did—
EB: Yup. Continue reading
I first met Gayle Brandeis in an online workshop taught by Lidia Yuknavitch. I had no idea who this woman was, that she’d written multiple books, but I knew her prose made me sit up straight and take note. It was only later, when I became Facebook friends with her, that I realized how accomplished she was. Brandeis has written several novels, including The Book of Dead Birds, Delta Girls, and My Life with the Lincolns; the writing guide Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write; and a book of poetry, The Selfless Bliss of the Body. Her newest book is a memoir entitled The Art of Misdiagnosis: Surviving my Mother’s Suicide. Brandeis is that rare writer who can write fiction, reportage, nonfiction, and poetry—and do it well—and this is apparent in her memoir.
Knowing Brandeis as a person, and having read the book and its themes of motherhood and daughterhood, I am so glad that she is kicking off this series. She found the time to do a little back-and-forth with me to discuss the memoir, as well as the confluence of writing and motherhood. Continue reading
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
Megan Stielstra’s new essay collection, The Wrong Way to Save Your Life, is a guidebook to living in troubled times. I found myself putting the book down to draw out the time I had with it. Each essay is urgent and impassioned, unique and universal, a reminder we’re not alone.
Jaime Rochelle Herndon: Your other book is also an essay collection. How did you come to essay writing?
Megan Stielstra: In high school I was the kind of geek who cut class to hang out at the library. I’d sit on the floor, reading Tolkien, Atwood, Virginia Woolf, but the kicker was Richard Wright’s Black Boy. In chapter 13, the character of Richard gets a library card for the first time and, in reading novels, he’s able to understand people who are different than himself. There I was, a sixteen-year-old girl in super-sheltered, small-town Michigan, having this profound connection with an adult man in the Jim Crow South. It was the first of many stops in an ongoing dialogue I have with myself about the enormity of our world and my own responsibility and privilege within it. Continue reading