A NEW POP LIT Q & A WITH A MULTI-TALENTED YOUNG WRITER
TODAY’S POP QUIZ IS WITH UP-AND-COMING WRITER FRAN-CLAIRE KENNEY.
1.) What characterizes the perfect short story?
FK: I’m tempted to just say that the perfect short story is as short as possible, but that leaves little room for character development; it really depends on why you’re reading in general at that point–do you want an exhilarating experience or a meditative one, or maybe both? The thing that works in any scenario, though, and that keeps a reader engaged, is strong imagery and lines of symbolism that jump out at the reader, because those are the things that stick as quotes which will recur into the reader’s consciousness for a long time. It’s also great (but by no means a necessity–nothing is really a necessity in literature except words) when a short story has a fable-like mood or structure, because those stories stick like the pieces of imagery and function almost like bedtime or cocktail stories to the reader who stumbles back into reality.
2.) What style of short fiction would attract masses of young readers to the art?
FK: I think that for GenZ folks, who have come of age during a time of sociopolitical conflict, dystopia and sci-fi are very promising. Everything around the world has been happening so fast in the last decade–political power shifts, technological innovations, social movements–that many young people don’t know what to expect, yet have grown accustomed to abrupt change. It’s intriguing to contemplate the relationship between humans and rebelling AI or life in an everlasting cyclone because these things are becoming more and more plausible, and reading about them in short stories allows so much room for speculation and, dare I say it, preparation. (Plus, there’s plenty of room for gore and horror, which everybody loves at least a little too much.)
3.) How do you see your future as a writer?
FK: The short answer: varied. I will always write poetry as a means of self-expression and catharsis–and with an abundance of clever and diverse literary magazines out there, I will always edit those catharsis parties into something thoughtful and even publishable. I’d like to be an editor as well, to work directly with fellow writers to improve the delivery of their messages. I’m also entering the world of film in college–not just screenwriting, but also directing, cinematography, production design–there are endless opportunities. Having goals as a literary writer-editor and as a film writer-director may seem like a conflict of interest, but I truly believe that some stories are meant to be told on paper, while others are meant to be told onscreen, and I want to convey both as a writer. Literature and film are a) beautiful, and b) do not have to be at a cultural war with each other–I seek to live that truth in my future.
NOW listen to two NPL recordings of Ms. Kenney reading her work, here and here.
A NEW POP LIT Q & A WITH A TALENTED WRITER
TODAY’S QUIZ IS WITH ONE OF THE BEST WRITERS NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT, BRIAN ECKERT.
1.) Favorite writer?
BE: I’m far too mercurial to have a favorite anything that lasts for very long. I’m currently stanning mountaineering nonfiction and philosophical pessimism, which, I suspect, are deeply related.
2.) Why did you become a writer?
BE: About ten years ago, while working on my first novel (which never saw the light of day), I wrote the following, which is as good of an explanation as any: “To not write is to submit without a fight to that external authority which some attribute to the divine, others to the intractable laws of nature. To not write is to live without a voice. It is to live as a ghost.”
BE: The world ended in 2012. We dropped out of history and nobody noticed.
A NEW POP LIT Q & A WITH AN EXCITING WRITER
TODAY’S QUIZ IS WITH ONE OF THE BEST YOUNG SHORT STORY WRITERS ON THE PLANET– ANGELO LORENZO
1.) Who’s your favorite short story writer living or dead?
AL: I have to admit that before I got engaged with short stories, I’ve spent my early years as an avid reader by getting immersed in novels. When it comes to fiction, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Stephen King, and George R.R. Martin would definitely come to mind. While Lewis and Tolkien made it to my reading lists when I was in elementary and high school, King and Martin helped me with style and voice when I got serious with writing in college.
But for short stories, I must say Edgar Allan Poe would be one in the list. Horror and dark tales have their ways of engaging the reader. Poe, regardless of his personal life, innovated literature by shortening the narrative form and hooking the reader with terrifying imagery. “The Masque of the Red Death” is one of my favorites.
In the local literary scene, I have been following the works of Nick Joaquin, Dean Francis Alfar, and Elena Paulma. Joaquin has been one of the most recognized Filipino writers because of the socio-political issues he depicted in his short stories. While he may have passed on, universities still study his works. Alfar, on the other hand, has written short stories which can be categorized under the genres that I love – magical realism and fantasy. Paulma underscores women empowerment with her characters. She keeps classical themes of family and love in contemporary setting.
2.) Why did you become a writer?
AL: When I was 11, my mother took me and my sister to watch the film adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I was amazed by the story, as well as its allegory. I remember obsessing over the series since then. I read the books, got introduced to fantasy, and then started reading other books. I think it was at that time when I started dreaming of becoming a writer someday. I wanted to explore further the kind of worlds that Lewis, Tolkien, Ursula K. Le Guin, Christopher Paolini, and J.K. Rowling created.
It wasn’t until I was 18 that I started getting serious about writing. I wrote a couple of drafts, self-published them online, and also practiced translating my idea into words. I took advantage of the knowledge I gained while in college to hone this skill, especially when it comes to writing with structure. I majored in Development Journalism, and the program made me familiar with the discipline.
Currently, I am taking my Master’s Degree in Literature. Reading and writing will always be a part of me, and I think that’s a good thing. Nothing compares to the feeling of fulfillment once a writer completes a manuscript or makes worlds out of words. After all, I believe everyone is creative. The medium which we prefer to showcase our creativity makes the difference. I think it was Elizabeth Gilbert who introduced me to this idea after reading her book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.
Also, I write because I feel good doing it, and I feel accomplished every time I finish what I’m writing.
3.) Can writers be pop stars?
AL: Taylor Swift, I believe, is a great writer. Her songs made her a sensational pop star in this generation. The same goes with Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Karen Carpenter, Patti Smith, and the many names in the constellation of music.
But when it comes to art in the written format (or literature in general), I think writers can definitely be pop stars. However, the work matters before the name. Genuine artists focus on the craft before anything else. Fame, reputation, recognition and wealth may be side effects, but these should not be the end-result or the main objective. Art is not about hoarding attention or money. These may come or these may not. But what every writer should keep in mind is that their craft is their outlet to deliver their message. These messages may inspire, disturb, reflect, frighten, encourage, motivate, etc. And whether these would spark attention or generate income, that’s for the odds to decide. The value of the craft – and in the case of writers, writing – should always come first.
A QUICK NEW POP LIT Q & A WITH AN EXCITING WRITER
TODAY’S QUIZ IS WITH TRANSHUMANIST PARTY CANDIDATE– AND WRITER– RACHEL HAYWIRE
1.) Have you done anything in your life bolder than running for President?
“Too many things. Running for President is my attempt to learn how to be normal. When I was a teenager I hitchhiked across the country. I stayed in a bunch of hacker squats and played live shows in between going to conferences and festivals. Meanwhile I was running a record label, organizing street kids, and dining the elite. Seriously, running for President is a boring game.”
2.) Is the new generation too shocked by out-of-the-box ideas?
“Yes. They think out-of-the-box means wearing a quirky t-shirt with their cat on it, or attending a poly gamer meetup. Yet the minute they meet someone who is actually out-of-the-box, they run away screaming and claim toxic vibes or micro aggression. They are careful and boring, yet then again they are far more stable than me and my friends were growing up.”
3.) As a futurist, do you see a future for literature?
“I do, yet it will be nothing like the literature that we know today. Instead, it will be immersive and break down previous genre expectations. There will be an eclectic return to tradition mixed with a postmodern pop sensibility. It will have a vitalist current that will shake readers out of their comfort zones. Underground subgenres will mutate into new forms that will eventually penetrate the mainstream.”
NOW READ RACHEL HAYWIRE’S STORY, “THE KINGDOM.”