A Word About Writing

An Interview with Kseniya Melnik, by Celia Johnson

In Kseniya Melnik’s Snow in May, you’ll meet a group of disparate characters who are all somehow inextricably bound to Magadan, Russia. This town, like its inhabitants, is full of stark contrasts: the Russian labor camps, the forbidding landscape, and still there is hope, courage, and even the arts flourish. I spoke with Melnik about her hometown, her unwavering dedication to writing, and her creative quirks.


An Interview with Brian Gresko, by Maria Gagliano

In honor of this father’s day week, I chatted with Brian Gresko, editor of the new essay collection When I First Held You: 22 Critically Acclaimed Writers Talk About the Triumphs, Challenges, and Transformative Experience of Fatherhood (Berkley Books/Penguin). The book is an amazing compilation of voices on fatherhood from all ends of the literary spectrum—from Lev Grossman, Rick Moody, and Benjamin Percy to Slice alum Alexi Zentner. It’s an impressive roster, to be sure, but Brian’s own introduction to the book is not to be overlooked. As a literary dad himself, Brian writes with heartbreaking clarity on the joys, confusion, and beautiful mess that is parenting.

I wish I could get every parent I know to read this book. Each essay is a unique reminder that no matter how lonely we may feel as parents, however badly we’ve felt we’ve messed up our kids, and however dark, corny, desperate, or ecstatic we may feel at times, we’re not alone in this. These guys assure us that we human parents are much more connected than we realize.


An Interview with Richard Haddon, Protagonist of Courtney Maum’s I AM HAVING SO MUCH FUN HERE WITHOUT YOU

Usually we email authors for our Word About Writing series. But I couldn’t resist asking protagonist Richard Haddon a few quick questions this time around. Richard isn’t a heroic character. Though he wishes he was a better man, a heroic man, and not a cheat. We follow Richard as he tries to rectify his mistakes in Courtney Maum’s debut novel, I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You. It’s an ambitious book. Unique. And, like Maum, hilarious.

New Yorkers, check out Maum’s book launch party, tonight at Powerhouse Arena, co-hosted by the awesome folks at Electric Literature.

And without further ado, a Q&A with Richard Haddon by Celia Johnson, Creative Director of Slice.

Biggest regret: Thinking I could get away with it.

Most proud of: The fact that I have a decent relationship with my parents.

Favorite food: Fries and gravy. (a.k.a., Poutine.)

Boxers or briefs? Depends on the pants!

When I’m stressed, I…: Think about things that stress me out more, like whether Anne I should have had—or should be making—another child, and whether such baby-making would help me win her back.

At the top of my bucket list: Take my wife on a movie-dinner date, except ratchet it up: a movie at the historical Japanese art house cinema, La Pagode in Paris, followed by sweetbreads at Chateaubriand.

This summer, I will…: Run the Swiffer picker upper through the detritus of my life.



An Interview with Emily Raboteau, by Kori Davis

Reading Emily Raboteau’s first nonfiction book, Searching for Zion, will make you want to trace your family tree and book the nearest plane going to farthest destination.  It starts with tracking down an old friend in Jerusalem, but as the book unfurls, trips to Jamaica, Ethiopia, and Ghana are taken. Born to white mother and a black father, Raboteau’s journey becomes a mixture of soul searching and identity crisis as she deals with feelings of displacement in a pre and post 9/11 America. Searching for Zion was released the same year as the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have Dream” speech at the march on Washington; however, it is King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” that Raboteau truly evokes, carrying the idea of finding the Promised Land. There are disappointments around every corner in Raboteau’s narrative, and yet, Raboteau plunges into the darkness to show us light, weaving a number of different topics from different locations together to form deep connections that fight against the isolation.


An Interview with Adam Wilson, by Celia Johnson

Adam Wilson’s latest short story collection is, without doubt, an unconventional pick for a summer read. Still, I promise you, it’ll be one of your most favorite summer reads yet. What’s Important Is Feeling contains stories of drugs, sex, death, and quite a few shenanigans. These tales are full of surprises, including a lot of dark twists, so dark that you’ll applaud Wilson for having the guts to put them out there on the page. In this interview, Wilson speaks about elements of humor, his work habits, and what aspiring writers should not worry about.


An Interview with Ella Boureau by Whiskey Blue

Ella Boureau writes erotica. She also runs the online magazine and reading series In the Flesh. Earlier this year, Boureau co-edited The Uncensored Collection: Lesbian Erotica by members of Private Commission. Along with Samantha Barrow, Diana Cage, and Claudine Lanthenay, Boureau belongs to the writing group Private Commission. The anthology they put out contains work that has been considered too controversial for more mainstream venues like the longstanding anthology Best Lesbian Erotica. Boureau sent a story to Best Lesbian Erotica before putting together this anthology; in fact, the guest editor accepted Boureau’s story for publication. Then the head editor rejected it. The story is called Cottonmouth. It tells the tale of young cousins who share a sexual experience. It also features a snake. It’s worth a read. In this interview, Ella Boureau waxes philosophical, and political, on queer literature, what makes fiction erotic, and Best Lesbian Erotica’s curious treatment of Cottonmouth. It turns out that, since rejecting Boureau’s piece, BLE has updated its submissions guidelines with a number of “Don’ts” that seem to have been pulled straight out of Cottonmouth.