SLICE AND DICE

INTERVIEWS & PODCASTS

Interview

SLICE + VICE: IVELISSE RODRIGUEZ

by Marae Hart

Inspired by the “seven deadly sins,” SLICE + VICE is an exposition of the underbelly of craft. With vice in mind, SLICE asks writers and industry professionals seven short answer questions to illuminate the darker side of creativity and the publishing process.

For the latest SLICE + VICE, we chatted with Ivelisse Rodriguez, author of the acclaimed collection Love War Stories. You can also catch her at the upcoming Slice Literary Writers’ Conference.

Pride: What are you most proud of accomplishing?

I am most proud of finishing my book Love War Stories. I started it twenty years ago. During this time, I finished my MFA, my PhD, started two tenure-track jobs, flapped around and whined to my therapist about not having a book deal, until I realized, that I don’t know, maybe I should revise this manuscript some more. So I am proud that I could assess the real issue, admit I was the person most in my way, and revise the stories—again, and again, and again and finally get the collection published.

 

Envy: How do you (or have you) overcome jealousy?

So far, the most helpful jealousy-destroyer has been taking a fatalistic approach. I will say to myself, hey, these are the rewards that you get, these are the rewards that that person receives. No one gets everything. You have to try to re-direct your attention to the accolades you receive. Easier said than done, but basically, you have to stop looking at someone else’s plate and focus on the food in front of you. You have a different meal, but it is just as good.

 

Wrath: What do you dislike most about the industry?

Publishing is so weird because so many of us writers are so clueless about the totality of the process. Even a year after publishing my book, there is still plenty I don’t know. It is not like that in other careers—people usually have a sense of what is going on if they are professors, lawyers, doctors, etc. Not so in publishing. I think we need Debut Author school. Some of the conversations I have had with other writers are what constitutes a national bestseller, why does X get money for travel and not Y, what are my real sales number because Nielsen doesn’t tell me, how do the Amazon rankings really work, etc. etc. etc.? There are so many questions I and other writers have.

 

Sloth: What is your favorite way to be lazy?

I love napping. It is so yummy.

 

Greed: How are you greedy?

When my book was sold, I was just happy that it would be published. That will be enough, I told myself. Then I start to get press, and then I want more. Then award season comes along, and I am like I want one. You become a greedy little monster, and you want it all—all the press, all the accolades, then you find new things that you didn’t even know you could want until you saw that someone else got it. It is a never-ending pit of greed and want.

 

Gluttony: How do you overindulge?

I stockpile on treats like I am going into a bunker for a week. I think it comes from being poor as a child and dreaming of having a roomful of candy as an adult. Now, I can buy all the candy I want!

 

Lust: What click bait can you not resist?   

Creepy stories about murder and mayhem. And fluffy stories about happy dogs doing cute things. So murder and dogs.

Ivelisse Rodriguez is the author of Love War Stories. Born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, Rodriguez earned a PhD in English creative writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago and an MFA from Emerson College. She has published fiction in All about Skin: Short Fiction by Women of Color,the Boston Review, the Bilingual Review, and others. She was a senior fiction editor at Kweli, a Kimbilio fellow, and a VONA/Voices alum.

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