Thursday, July 05, 2012

An Interview with Author and Editor Meg Tuite

Meg Tuite's writing has appeared in numerous journals including Berkeley Fiction Review, 34th Parallel, Epiphany, Valparaiso Fiction Review, JMWW, One, the Journal, Monkeybicycle and Boston Literary Magazine. She has been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize. She is the fiction editor of The Santa Fe Literary Review and Connotation Press. She is the author of Domestic Apparition (2011) San Francisco Bay Press, Disparate Pathos (2012) Monkey Puzzle Press, Reverberations (2012) Deadly Chaps Press and has edited and co-authored The Exquisite Quartet Anthology-2011, stories from her monthly column, Exquisite Quartet published in Used Furniture Review. Her books can be purchased at:

Her blog:

Me: How did you come to writing?

Meg Tuite: I don’t know if you read my essay up at Jennifer Haupt’s Psychology Today’s blog in June, 2012?
That says a lot about my childhood. My mother was a librarian and an extremely prolific reader and so our family was marching up to the library every weekend to get six new books each week. My siblings and I would trade books because we always finished the one’s we’d chosen before the week was up. I used to write poetry on the cardboard from my dad’s shirts from the cleaners when I was six or so and at some point attempted to write a novel about a girl running away. My mother was a bit concerned. Kept asking me if it was fictional. I don’t remember my answer.

Me: I see that you write poetry and fiction; do you consider yourself more a poet or fiction writer? Are there advantages to one form or the other for you?

Meg: I have always loved poetry and poetic prose. I have a chapbook of my poetry/prose poems coming out this month through Deadly Chaps/Joseph Quintela’s A5 series. Very excited about that! But, I’ve published mostly fiction and am teaching a class right now on flash fiction. Without a doubt, I have written way more fiction in long or short form than poetry, but that doesn’t account for the lust for rhythm and the movement of words in sentences that I try to attain in everything I write. I did just finish a novel and that was interesting, hellish and somewhat competitive. Me against myself, as always.

Me: The poems and stories of yours I’ve read have had a surreal bent to them. What draws you to this rather than straight realism?

Meg: I’m so glad you have read them as surreal. I have many hybrids, but tend to see myself writing very intense characters in stifling situations. The feeling of being trapped in one’s body, relationship, family, etc. I am always trying for something that will get some feeling from a reader. The best deal for me was when I’d read a story, “Creep,” at a Santa Fe venue about a father who had beaten his kids and was now sitting in a wheelchair in a rest home with one daughter who came to visit him, and their strange relationship. Some guy, after the reading, came up to me and said, “Damn! That was my father you wrote about.” And then he told me he was now motivated to write his memoir that he’d been afraid to write. I don’t think it gets better than that for a writer. The story was published in Specter Magazine in Sept. 2011.

Me: Is it difficult to balance editing two journals: Santa Fe Literary Review and Connotation Press? Do you find that editing hurts or helps your writing?

Meg: I enjoy editing and reading manuscripts. And they are two completely different birds. SFLR is an annual print magazine, whereas CP is a bi-monthly online magazine. We’ve just finished the last round of edits for SFLR and the 2012 issue will be coming out sometime this month. And so the last few months have been busier than usual. But CP is an ongoing magazine and I try to read at least a few submissions every day. I feel honored to be able to read a writer’s work before it’s been published. And when I find a great one, it makes my month. I’m ecstatic!

My flash fiction class I’m teaching this summer has a mix in the curriculum of classics from other eras and work that I have found unforgettable of the contemporary writers out there now. It’s exciting when my students ask about a specific writer I know and want to buy their book or check out their blog.

Me: As an editor, you must’ve noticed the glut of online journals out there. Is this a positive or a negative? Where do you see publishing going in the future?

Meg: It’s interesting because the last five years or so have seen a huge change in the publishing world. I used to send my manuscripts to print magazines exclusively. I wouldn’t even consider an online magazine. It was just like when I was a media buyer in advertising in the early 90’s, and no one would consider buying cable stations. We thought they were a joke, going nowhere. Well, we all know who the joke was on now. Most of the work I have published in the past two years has been through online magazines. My work is read by more readers, by far, in an online magazine. Most writers can’t afford to buy subscriptions to the print magazines. I do tell my students that they should subscribe to at least one print magazine a year, and a few if they can afford it, to keep the print magazines in circulation. We should all do that. Another huge change is that all my submissions used to be via snail mail and now most of the magazines (print, as well) are taking online submissions. That makes the turn around pace a lot quicker.

It’s a whole new universe and yes, I do see a vast number of online magazines coming in and dropping out. It takes a lot of work to keep a magazine going, whether it’s online or print and some people jump into it without knowing what they’re getting into. I just read fiction for CP and that takes a lot of time. I can only imagine what kind of pressure Ken Robidoux, the founder/editor-in-chief, has to produce such an exceptional magazine twice a month with so many diverse columns in it. He started out small and didn’t expect any compensation for it, except for the enjoyment of putting out other writer’s work. He has a strong will and an endless imagination that keeps his magazine growing and he rarely sleeps. That, I know. This is a deep commitment if someone is willing to sacrifice a lot, a lot of time and energy. He has an extensive audience that spans all the continents (except Antarctica), unless something has changed since last we spoke and he has readers there as well.

Me: Would you mind telling me a little about your novel in stories Domestic Apparition?

Meg: I published all, but one, of those stories in various literary magazines. I sent DA out as a collection and got two publishers that wanted to publish it. I went with San Francisco Bay Press and the publisher, Jeff Hewitt, asked if we could rework the stories into a narrative with the same family and the same narrator. I saw that it was possible and so went at it and then after a back-and-forth with his editor, Bob Arthur, we pulled together what we decided to call a novel-in-stories. I was very happy with it when it was done.

Me: What was the genesis for this collection; is it autobiographical?

Meg: I could never say that it’s a memoir because I always work toward a good story, if I can. So what may have been inspired by a real incident, quickly got lost in my mind-trench of writing something that was believable, meaning, not as strange as the truth.

Me: Who are you reading? Who are your inspirations?

Meg: I have been reading a lot of collections lately. Paula Bomer’s “Baby & Other Stories,” “Three Squares a Day With Occasional Torture,” by Julie Innis, “Cul-de-Sac,” by Scott Wrobel. I have just received six more books in the mail: J.A Tyler, Michael C. Keith, Ryan W. Bradley and David Tomaloff, Nate Jordon and Mary Stone Dockery–all exceptional writers who have inspired me consistently. I find that poetry collections and poetic prose tend to stay near my desk more often than others. They give me a jolt when I’m feeling nothing coming my way.

Me:  You’re very prolific. Would you mind telling me a little about your writing process: do you write every day, do you have a specific routine, etc.?

Meg: I try to write every day. My intention doesn’t always manifest, but I make sure to read some manuscripts each day and I’m always reading books when I can. I figure if it’s not coming on the page then something is brewing in my head. At least that’s what I make myself believe.

Me: If history is going to remember you for something you’ve written, what will it be, or have you written it yet?

Meg: God, I hope I haven’t written it yet! Don’t we always look toward the next venture, Cort?

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