Jessica Hagedorn: On Writing and Cheap Emotion

Author photo by David Shankbone

Jessica Hagedorn, novelist, playwright, and editor of Manila Noir, chats with LitWrap contributor, Alex Vlahov.

Manila Noir is a haunting arabesque of gritty crime and supernatural encounters. Editor and contributor Jessica Hagedorn is as fascinating as the collection. Born in Manila but having spent her formative years in San Francisco, she has been meditating on the Filipino-American experience through her writing since the 70s. I was fortunate enough to talk to Jessica about her experiences, thoughts, and Manila Noir, Akashic’s latest addition to their stellar series of city-specific crime shorts.

Alex Vlahov: So what was the process of choosing writers and stories for this collection? Continue reading Jessica Hagedorn: On Writing and Cheap Emotion

Feed The Machine

 COMPUTER2– Every Day Publishing with System Lover, Satya Khan.

There are so many different ways to publish writing today.  You can blog your novel in episodes each day.  You can tweet plot points in 144 word bits. You can make a diary of your Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler on Pintrest.

But Satya Khan has kept it personal.  Her three paragraph flash memoir pieces go out every week day (well, almost) to her mailing list of readers.  And the archives of her story are only available in your inbox. Continue reading Feed The Machine

Keep It Real, says Alina Simone

alina simone / (c) vinciane verguethen

I just finished Note to Self, Alina Simone’s second book, and loved it! A funny, smart, finger-on-the-pulse contemporary novel that satirizes (or just very accurately portrays) our relationship with the Internet. Simone’s first was the collection of essays was “You Must Go and Win.”  In a quick interview, Simone says the lesson of the book is to connect with real people, remain grounded, and stay realistic. Continue reading Keep It Real, says Alina Simone

It’s A Good Time To Be A Girl

Yes Is The Answer (Barnacle Books/Rare Bird Books)
Reading at Skylight Books on June 14, 2013

photoLast night’s progressive rock reading inspired one audience member to ask the panel of writers why there weren’t any girls interested in the genre.  We have two, one panelist responded, thinking the guy was asking about the number of female writers in the anthology.  No, in bands, as musicians, the questioner said.  And you know what I said? Out loud (like not in my mind?)  AW COME ON!

Yes dear readers, my social life in LA has come so far as to be the heckler at free bookstore events that begin and end before it gets dark.  I go, I ask bad questions and now I also make comments on other people who do the same.  Things are really on the up! Continue reading It’s A Good Time To Be A Girl

Should I take a Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop? One veteran responds.


You will get your ass kicked at the Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop.  It’s not the thing you want to tell a new writer looking to develop their work, but it’s true.  Better to just tell them some descriptive details – that you’ll meet in a working writer’s home, that you’ll get lots of feedback on anything you put down on the page, and you’ll make a new circle of friends who will support your work. Continue reading Should I take a Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop? One veteran responds.

Nothing But The Truth

photo-1What mysteries are inside your families?  What questions have you not dared to ask?  For Michael Hainey, the question was: what don’t I know about the night my father died? This question prompted more than a decade of investigation into his father’s death, the result of which is a memoir about what it’s like to find that kind of answer.

The author summoned the spirit of his family’s past at Book Soup on Thursday the 23rd, by reading from his pages in a ghostly voice and a grave manner.  When he reached out to mimic the motion of his mother’s hand when they revisited a haunt from the couple’s early days, I shivered with the thought that we all of us will disappear one day.  Until then, how will you overcome your fear?  Michael Hainey answered some question on how he did it. Continue reading Nothing But The Truth

Better Beginnings – Continued

imagesLast week Kate wrote about how to rewrite your first chapter.  There’s conventional knowledge, she says, about how to treat your character and plot but how do you really suck the reader in?  Her answer was to come up with a moment in the life of the character that is very similar to every other day, but just slightly different enough to deserve it’s own 300 pages. Continue reading Better Beginnings – Continued