I love it when I can say one of my favorite writers is someone I know.
Rita Quillen is a native of Scott County, Virginia. She is a poet and novelist. Her work includes several collections of poetry, the novel Hiding Ezra, and contributions to a number of anthologies.
Rita was a semi-finalist for Poet Laureate of Virginia a few years ago. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including two Pushcart nominations.
She is a musician, has been a teacher, and is one of the coolest people I know.
Here's a link to some of her poems that are published by The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.
I've been a guest on several radio programs but my favorite experience has to be the first time Henry McCarthy interviewed me. He's a master of putting his guests at ease and he really digs deep with his questions. He's funny and charming and very knowledgeable about writers and writing. He's also a poet.
Henry's show Poets and Writers is broadcast on Emory and Henry's radio station, WEHC 90.7 and as the name implies, it showcases poets and writers.
A collection of recordings from Henry's show is found in The Southern Folklife Collection at the Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Below are parts 1 and 2 of my first interview. This took place in the spring of 2010, I believe. I performed readings from St. Peter's Monsters and Sawmill Boys, but the conversation also veered onto topics such as The Beatles, Charles Bukowski, and Edgar Allan Poe.
I guess her most famous work, widely read in schools, is her short story "The Lottery."
I'm fond of her books, particularly The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
THoHH is by far my favorite haunted house tale, but it's much more than that. It's a study of Eleanor, a young woman who's a bundle of neuroses. Eleanor has developed a daydreaming habit as a coping mechanism. Her inner world is quite rich:
“I could live there all alone, she thought, slowing the car to look down the winding garden path to the small blue front door with, perfectly, a white cat on the step. No one would ever find me there, either, behind all those roses, and just to make sure I would plant oleanders by the road. I will light a fire in the cool evenings and toast apples at my own hearth. I will raise white cats and sew white curtains for the windows and sometimes come out of my door to go to the store to buy cinnamon and tea and thread. People will come to me to have their fortunes told, and I will brew love potions for sad maidens; I will have a robin...”
Ultimately Eleanor's fanciful thinking takes her down a path of darkness
The other memorable character that Jackson created is Merricat Blackwood, the teenage narrator of WHALitC. Like Eleanor, she is extremely troubled. She's also an unreliable narrator. Jackson introduces us to her in grand fashion:
"My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the deathcup mushroom… Everyone else in my family is dead."
If you haven't read any of Jackson's work since reading "The Lottery," check out her novels. You won't regret it.
I wish I had the opportunity to meet Lou Crabtree. She was a native of Washington County, Virginia.
She died in 2006, just as I was starting to think of myself as a real writer.
Some of her poetry boggles the mind. For her biography and more information about her work, click here.
One of my favorite poems of hers is called "He Cut My Garden Down." Its stark imagery and matter-of-fact verse convey how a wife can come to hate an abusive and oppressive husband.
The Commonwealth of Virginia declared her a Laureate of Literature in 1988.
I'm honored to have a short story accepted by Still: The Journal, a literary site founded and edited by Silas House and Marianne Worthington.
I'm not sure when it will be published. February, maybe.
Article by Joe Nutt, on Spiked-Online.com.
"Words are so quickly and so easily traded that they are in danger of appearing just as grubby and manhandled as common currency. Technology has contracted the period between thought and expression to the mere seconds it takes to stab a few words out on a keyboard."
"In poetry we road-test words to destruction; squeeze impossibilities out of them and combine them to form beautiful structures unimaginable in any other context."
Authors I Love: Ron Rash.
I'm in awe of this writer. His poetry is wonderful and his novels stay with you.
One Foot in Eden is my favorite of his works. I've read it three times. In fact, I once read it aloud to a person who told me he didn't like to read.
I encourage all you young writers out there to keep plugging away at it. Don't get disheartened.
For every success I post here, I have multiple rejections.
If you are a writer, you WILL be rejected. Develop a thick skin. Learn from constructive criticism and ignore the rest. Especially ignore the little devil on your shoulder who tells you to give up because you're no good.
Finally, do your research before submitting your work. Make sure you're sending it to the magazines, agents, and publishers most appropriate for your style and subject matter. Be methodical in your submission process and keep track of everything.
My story "Once You've Been a Fox" appears in Quail Bell Magazine. Read it here.
"Quail Bell Magazine is a multimedia publication that explores the imaginary, the nostalgic, and the otherworldly through the highest quality creative and journalistic content. This includes culture, commentary, original literature, and many oddities."
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