Matilda and Moby Dick.
My first serious relationship: I was only there for 3 months before another store wooed me away with the promise of something more serious — and we got serious really fast. I was hired as the assistant events director, but before long I was writing the newsletter, creating the window displays, and redesigning web pages. My life became inseparable from the bookstore. When my shift was over I would stay for upwards of an hour just talking to my coworkers, I was always there on my day off, and outside of my roommate my entire social life was the bookstore.
Those were the golden years of my bookseller life. I eventually left to start grad school in Ireland, but a part of me always wonders if I should have stayed, if I didn’t realize how good I had it. Isn’t your first serious relationship always also the one that got away?"
Two for one.
What are you currently reading?
Right now, I’m reading Islands by Aldous Huxley. My all-time favorite book, though, is Wittgenstein’s Mistress by David Markson.
Winona 4 Ever
You know you do it too.
What is your preferred genre to write, and why is it your favorite?
Nonfiction. I like poking fun at myself, and I think the stories I have to tell are ones people should hear. I have always considered myself a “serious” writer. Or that all of my writing is serious, even the funny things.
Do you write in other fields besides your favorite, or stick to one genre?
I wrote for competitions a lot until I was a sophomore in high school. Then I switched to playwriting and wrote plays for Curious Theatre in Denver. In college, I wrote mostly fiction (and the occasional love poem to whomever I was dating). Once I graduated, I began my blog. But I always knew I would end up at nonfiction.
(Whitney’s blog can be found here: Highest Form of Whit.)
Does your writing for your blog tend to intersect with your personal creative work, or do you keep them separate?
I consider my blog just as personal and creative as anything else I write. My blog is about my struggle with an anxiety disorder, so it’s extremely personal and very creative. It’s hard to make panic attacks funny, or phobias funny, but I’m good at it. It resonates with readers and has garnered my blog a lot of attention.
What is your writing process? Can you make yourself write/stick to a steady schedule, or do you have to wait until you feel inspired?
Oh, god. I wish I had a writing schedule. Sometime it hits me like a train and I have to sit down and write for three hours. Sometimes the words come slowly. But they’re always there. I just have to give myself time to actually sit down and write. As much as I love literary techniques, I’m more concerned with hoping my voice comes through strongly.
What would you like to accomplish, long-term, with your writing?
I want to make mental illness not nearly as taboo as it is. I want people with mental health issues to know it’s okay to laugh at themselves, or others. I want the public to know that these things are real, these issues are serious, but I want to ingrain that knowledge in a way that’s humorous. Humor is the fastest way to truth, I think.
What authors have influenced your own work the most (whether with their writing, or with their personal qualities/beliefs)?
Tolkien, obviously. The world he created required so much creativity. It’s hard not to be inspired by that. But I love David Sedaris, Dave Rakoff, and Bill Bryson. Also, Jeanette Walls. Really, I could list authors and books forever (Joe Meno, Kurt Vonnegut, Christopher Durang, and Mark Z. Danielewski have all influenced me at some point or another). I’m influenced by everything I read, because I like to consider how it’s put together and how sentences are woven throughout a piece.
Do you think your work covers new ground, or discusses familiar concepts in a new way?
I think my writing discusses something that is only ever discussed clinically: mental health. It’s definitely familiar, but I think my tongue-in-cheek approach to it has made it very accessible for people.
Interviewed by Emmett Haq
It is possible to write an urban fantasy novel featuring vampires who aren’t having sex. But then multiple agents and editors will tell you it’s nonpublishable. Thanks, Twlight.
Writing Popular Fiction, Seton Hill University