Madame Karamazov Presents :

The Fictions of Elizabeth Frankie Rollins

My Writing Process: A Blog Tour


I’ve been included in this tour by my dear friend, MB McLatchey, a poet who writes gorgeously in form about humanity’s (deep) chaos and (eternal) possibility.  Here’s the way this blog tour works: Writers are asked to respond to four questions about their writing process and what they are working on now.  If you’d like to read what MB had to say: http://mclatchey.wordpress.com/blog/
Here are my responses below:


1. Tell us about your writing process.
This morning, I noticed that the cut I’ve had on my pinkie finger is infected.  It was a small cut, but I’ve had a virus, so I guess the immune system is too busy to get it fixed up.  I have a history of splinters of wood and glass becoming expensive, huge, problematic things. This pinkie worried me. I was in the shower and I thought these lines: I hoard small wounds/ grow them into big houses for nobody. It was a sad thought. I realized I’d recently had conversations about my past, and this had something to do with that.  Oh, I thought.  That stuff again. 

Spontaneous emotion-language like this, that feels sharp and true, it seeks a page. It won’t necessarily stay in the same form, but the idea or feeling gets channeled into my characters.  Next, I feel for which of my current characters this might be true.  Kind of doomed to screw up small things.  Kind of haunted by old stuff.  When I thought about this line, I realized it could be, in fact, any of the characters I’m writing right now.  Ha!  Which makes me feel normal, human, okay. Which makes me know that this emotion-language might be important.  Which then becomes important to give to a character, so that someday a reader might say, oh, there it is, my screwing up, my hauntedness, too.  So someone might say, I am not alone.

This is where I get the vibrant hinges for my stories.  The rest of a story I build laboriously over days, weeks, months, years.  The rest of a story is hewn out of time, but the important hinges are hewn out of my heart.

2.  What are you working on?

So much.  Always. 

I’m writing a novel called Are There Words for Everything? which is about a brother and sister from a family in early 20th century Tucson, during and after WWI.  Paul, the brother, returns from war with PTSD, and struggles to make sense of surviving. Aggi, the sister, after following her fiancé to Philadelphia and getting caught in the Spanish Flu epidemic, has realized her betrothed is an awful coward, and also returns to Tucson.  Both of these siblings must figure out a path for the future. These characters are witnesses to human tragedy at its worst, and must figure out how to move beyond and live again.  How do they do it?  How do entire countries do it?  I write this book of fiction to draw these comparisons, and to raise the questions that emerge from such times: Are there words for everything? What can be survived? How can apologies be made? What is it that we seek?

I’m also working on a fairytale called Seeking Rubilio, which is the tale of a kingdom destroyed by jealousy and bitterness. There’s an Iron Boy and a Golden Boy, sons, fire, a sick oracle, lakes of blindness, and a little band of friends who seek a lost brother. My sister, Cyane Tornatzky, and some of her electronic art students at Colorado State are creating an interactive website to illustrate it. 

A novelist is always, also, seeking an agent.  This is some of my work, too.  I’m looking for an agent for my novel, Descent, which is the story of an island settled in 1720 by an optimistic, ill-prepared group of disparate city and lowlander folk. Invoking the logic of magic realism, the narrative traces the growth of the settlement and the life of the firstborn child, Sillith Wharsh. The settlers neglect to adopt government, fear any kind of religion, and the resulting crucible is humanity in its most beautiful and violent forms.

3. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

First answer:

Oh, it only differs in that I am a vehicle of particular memory, voice, and attractions.  In writing, I tend to think in community. I/we/they borrow beautiful craft ideas from our ancestors, from each other, from our selves all the time.  It is like swimming with friends on a very beautiful day.  Always.  I’m just reading Karen Russell now.  She writes fabulist fiction, and she’s having all kinds of success now.  It makes me want to cry with gratitude.  Good, good!  She’s okay!  And more people are reading our kind of stuff!  What joy!  We laugh and splash.  I am of them, and they are of me.

Second answer:  I have a lot of viscera and guts in my writing.  Also, plagues.

4. Why do you write what you do?

Because I think narrative is the human soul, and by telling stories, I share/see souls.  Because each human being deserves compassion and it’s easier to show this in stories than in our bitter reality.  Because my heart is shaped in a way that wants to help us.  Because narrative will never end.  Because I see words all the time, floating.  Because I am spoken to.  Because shadow.  Because dream.  Because horns.  Because illness.  Because brevity.  Because disaster.  Because eyes.  Because paths.  Because loss.  Because longing.  Because us.

 

Next up on the blog tour, two stunning writers, arts advocates, and supremely cool ladies from Tucson: Kristen E. Nelson and Kimi Eisele.

Kristen Elissa Nelson is the author of Write, Dad (Unthinkable Creatures Chapbook Press, 2012). She has published creative work in The Feminist WireThe Volta, Denver Quarterly, Drunken Boat, Tarpaulin Sky Journal, Dinosaur Bees, Quarter After Eight, Spiral Orb, Glitter Tongue, The Dictionary Project, Trickhouse, In Posse Review, Cranky, and Everyday Genius, among others. She is a founder and the Executive Director of Casa Libre en la Solana, a non-profit writing center in Tucson, Arizona; a production editor for Tarpaulin Sky Press; and an editor for Trickhouse. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Goddard College. She teaches writing in the desert Southwest.   

To check out Kristen’s blog on April 23-24 for her writing process responses, go here: http://www.kristenenelson.com/news.html

Kimi Eisele still doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up, which is why she’s always adding new forms to her artistic practice. She likes to make things—dances, performances, stories, papercuttings, titles, community comraderie, and when she can, a difference.

Kimi’s essays and articles about globalization, US-Mexico border issues, the environment, health, and the arts have been published in literary magazines, anthologies, and online news outlets. Currently she is completing on novel about love, loss, and adaptation in a post-apocayptic America, a project for which she was awarded both the 2012 Arizona Commission on the Arts annual Artist Project Grant and a 2012 “New Works” grant from Tucson Pima Arts Council. (It’s actually a very hopeful story.) She has taught creative writing and dance in schools, communities, and institutions for over a decade and is listed on the Arizona Commission of the Arts Teaching Artist Roster.

Also a movement artist and choreographer, Kimi has directed and performed in dance projects for New ARTiculations Dance Theatre that address community issues and involve the public and community partners innovative and engaging ways. She recently completed Rosemont Ours: A Field Guide, a dance film in collaboration with artist/filmmaker Ben Johnson, celebrating the plant and animal species in the Northern Santa Rita Mountains that stand to lose their habitat if the proposed Rosemont Copper mine is constructed (www.RosemontOurs.com). Currently she is working on a solo project on Tumamoc Hill using somatic experiments to understand the hill’s human and natural ecology. Kimi is also a co-founder and member of Movement Salon, an improvisational performance group that incorporates dance, spoken word, and live music to create ephemeral compositions.

Kimi makes papercuttings using an X-Acto knife (and many blades), creating images that explore themes of nature, spirituality, the body, often incorporating the quirky and whimsical. Her first shadow puppet theatre, “How to be…” received glowing reviews at Casa Libre’s 10th Anniversary Gala in Feb. 2014. You can view it here: https://vimeo.com/87795730

To check out Kimi’s blog on April 23-24 for her writing process responses, go here: http://kimieisele.wordpress.com/.  For more of her wondrousness, her website is: www.KimiEisele.com