archives submissions blog (dis)likes

out now!

Are You Lonesome Tonight?
Alison Christy

Space is Our Future
Michelle McMahon

The Weirdest Thing
Grant Flint

Sunsets Unlimited
Stephen Graham Jones

489 Points
Andrew Borgstrom

Rain Escape
Lydia Conklin

They Shared an Egg
John Dermot Woods

First Book Roundtable Discussion
Kyle Beachy, Jedediah Berry, Andrew Ervin, Roxane Gay, Rachel B. Glaser, Julia Holmes, Caitlin Horrocks, Holly Goddard Jones, Tom McAllister, Laura van den Berg, Kevin Wilson, Mike Young

Kyle Beachy is the author of The Slide (The Dial Press, 2009). He lives in Chicago and teaches writing and literature at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Univeristy of Chicago's Graham School, and Roosevelt University. His short stories and essays have or will appear in St. Louis Magazine, Another Chicago Magazine, as a Featherproof Mini-Book, and elsewhere.

Jedediah Berry's novel The Manual of Detection (Penguin, 2009) won the William L. Crawford Award and the Dashiell Hammett Prize, and is a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Award. His short stories have appeared in journals and anthologies including Conjunctions, Chicago Review, Best New American Voices, and Best American Fantasy. He is an editor at Small Beer Press.

Andrew Ervin's first book, a collection of novellas titled Extraordinary Renditions, will be published by Coffee House Press in September. His fiction has appeared in Conjunctions, Fiction International, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Louisiana, but that is about to change.

Roxane Gay's first collection, Ayiti, will be released in the Fall of 2010 (Artistically Declined Press). Other work appears or is forthcoming in Mid-American Review, DIAGRAM, McSweeney's (online), Gargoyle, Annalemma and others. She is an assistant professor of English at Eastern Illinois University and co-editor of PANK. Find her online at

Rachel B. Glaser is the author of Pee On Water (Publishing Genius Press 2010). Her stories have appeared in 3rd Bed, New York Tyrant, Unsaid and others. She currently lives in Easthampton, MA with the author John Maradik. 

Julia Holmes was born in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and grew up in the Middle East, Texas, and New York. She is a graduate of Columbia University’s MFA program in fiction, and lives in Brooklyn. Her first novel, Meeks, will be published by Small Beer Press in July.

Caitlin Horrocks is author of the story collection This Is Not Your City (Sarabande 2011). Her stories appear in The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2009, The Pushcart Prize XXXV, The Paris Review and elsewhere, and have won awards including the Plimpton Prize. She lives in Grand Rapids MI, where she is an assistant professor at Grand Valley State University.

Holly Goddard Jones is the author of Girl Trouble, a collection of short stories. She teaches at UNC-Greensboro.

Tom McAllister's first book Bury Me in My Jersey: A Memoir of My Father, Football, And Philly (Villard/Random House) was released in May 2010. His shorter work has appeared in several publications, including Black Warrior Review, Barrelhouse, and Storyglossia. A 2006 graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he is currently a Lecturer in the English Department at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Laura van den Berg was raised in Florida and earned her MFA at Emerson College. Her fiction has appeared in One Story, American Short Fiction, Conjunctions, Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008, Best New American Voices 2010, and The Pushcart Prize XXIV, among others. Laura’s first collection of stories, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us (Dzanc Books, October 2009), was selected for the Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” Program and long-listed for both The Story Prize and the Frank O’Connor Award. She was the 2009-2010 Emerging Writer Lecturer at Gettysburg College and is the recipient of the 2010-2011 Tickner Fellowship at the Gilman School.

Kevin Wilson is the author of the story collection Tunneling to the Center of the Earth (Ecco/Harper Perennial, 2009). His fiction has appeared in Tin House, One Story, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. He lives in Sewanee, TN.

Mike Young is the author of We Are All Good If They Try Hard Enough (Publishing Genius Press 2010), a book of poems, and Look! Look! Feathers (Word Riot Press 2010), a book of stories. Recent work appears in American Short Fiction, LIT, and Washington Square. He co-edits NOÖ Journal and Magic Helicopter Press. He lives in Northampton, MA.


(PREV: Touring & Promotion)

Terrific discussion of readings, all! It brings up another question for me. When and how do you transition from the public side of things (readings, promotion, etc.) and into a new project? A couple of you mentioned having a second project underway already. Is the second book harder than the first? Different? Scarier? What have your experiences been with the move from one project to another? Have you been working on a novel while touring/reading/selling a collection, for instance? So, in other words, what's next?

Roxane Gay: I'm always working on several projects at once so it's a lot easier for me to transition from the intense focus on one project to something else. I'll let you know if this holds true this fall after the book comes out — it probably won't and that will be funny. I'll look back on this and say, "SHUT UP, SELF." I'm lucky, or cursed in that I have my next four books completed or in progress, so next up is my full length story collection, then the novel which is based on a short story in Ayiti, a chapbook of short stories written from the collective POV, and a novella of sorts about a family album.

Jedediah Berry: I must say that I think SHUT UP, SELF would make a great title for a novel. (And would have to be written in the first person, of course.)

  After finishing The Manual of Detection, I wrote only short stories for a while. I was exhausted, from the book and from some other things, plus I'd built up a pile of ideas for stories that I hadn't been able to get to while writing the novel. I'm working on a new novel now. It's a train novel. Or a train and ghosts novel. But not a ghost train novel.

Andrew Ervin: I've been at work on a novel for a while now. Maybe it's done, but probably not. (I'm going offline for a few days, or longer, so thanks everyone for the great ideas here!)

Mike Young: I'm writing more poems and working on an epistolary novel, wherein a dude who works for YouTube has been assigned to inform a user of their account's impending termination due to perverse viewing habits. I don't know if it's working or not. It's kind of insane. The only other project I have is set in a world where beaches are made of ruffled potato chips. And someone puts nectarines in post office boxes. Both of these things are concerned with very domestic issues like sitting still and making things up. And food, I guess?

Laura van den Berg: I’m finishing a novel and working on new stories. I found it difficult to keep working on novel revisions while I was doing the book stuff, so I’m definitely feeling ready to transition away from things to do with What the World Will Look Like… and to place my focus exclusively, or at least semi-exclusively, on the new work. Since the stories in my collection are pretty thematically consistent, I’ve been conscious of trying to not repeat myself, though some of the elements that are in my collection have definitely appeared in the novel, so at a certain point I just had to go with it.

Holly Goddard Jones: I'm working on a novel. It's funny — I do these readings back home, and people seem to expect that the novel will be out in another six months or so. At this point, I'd be over-the-moon thrilled if I could just get the draft done in that amount of time. I'm a very insecure novelist. I mean, I've never finished a novel before. I won't know that I can do it until it's done, and I just want to be revising the thing already. I want it to exist, in whatever poor a form, so I can know it's done. 

Kyle Beachy: I'm about halfway through a new novel about fear and failure. Writing takes me a really long time. 

Kevin Wilson: I just turned in what I hope is the final revision of a novel to Ecco. I've been revising it since November. It was fun to write, but now I want to write more short stories.

Caitlin Horrocks: I'm working on a novel, plus more stories that are probably the start of the next collection. They're all always going on at once, so I don't really have a sense of transitioning away from the finished book into something completely new.

Tom McAllister: I'm at work on a very long mess of a novel. It's a book I've always vaguely wanted to write (it's about pro wrestling, and has nothing to do with Mickey Rourke), and was very eager to start on it by the time I was in process of final edits on the memoir. For a while, I was really driven by the excitement of being able to create new stuff, rather than reading the same old sentences for the 30th time. I've already worked on this novel longer than I did on the memoir (the memoir was probably ~18 months before sale to publisher), but I'm still enjoying the work, which I take as a good sign. The negative here is that I think I've reached the point where people kind of expect me to have finished by now. They keep asking, "are you done the wrestling book yet?" and all I can offer are vague promises of progress. Hopefully, though, it'll be readable (and 150 pages shorter) by August. Maybe late August. September?