Page 1

fic tion ar y •


IRVINE WELSH T he fic tiona ry interview by

Nicolette Kittinger

AF T ER T HE MANUS CRIP T how to n avi g ate the roa d to pu bli c atio n by

Karen Schmidt

letter from t he E DI TOR

fic tion ar y •

The second thing I learned is that perseverance is more than just a word for spelling bees. This issue has been in the works for quite a while, and it has hit many, many bumps along the way. There have been moments when I (and perhaps others on Team fictionary) thought the issue would never make it out of e-mail attachments and rushed editorial meetings. But here it is, proof that determination and good old stick-toitiveness will eventually prevail. Finally, don’t let what’s come before you paralyze you. For writers, this condition is (now) known as “Steinbeck Syndrome.” (Note: There are many other authors I considered referencing here, but “Faulkner Syndrome” and “Morrison Syndrome” just didn’t have the same ring. Alliteration, go figure.) As an editor, the success of the past two issues of fictionary put pressure to meet or exceed that standard. I spent some time poring over the past few Letters From the Editor and even more time trying to figure out how to write something that would match the eloquence of my predecessors. Eventually I just had to sit down, clear my mind of their words and

Volume 14 / Issue 2

Dear Readers, Putting together this issue of fictionary has taught me a thing or two (or three) about the uphill struggle that is editing a magazine. First and foremost, it taught me that teamwork is not just for athletes. If you thought that as a writer you were somehow exempt from working with others and could spend your days alone in your studio apartment, drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, and musing about the human condition, think again. For one, you actually have to interact with humans to know anything about the human condition. And two, if not for the unflagging hard work of Bobby Biedrzycki, Sam Weller, Karen Schmidt, Nicolette Kittinger, and all the other contributors, this issue never would have made it.

grasp for words of my own. The words did come, thank goodness, but not without a considerable amount of teeth-grinding and pencil-tapping. Unfortunately, such is any writing endeavor, no? This issue takes the traditional notion of writers as reclusive, brooding types and turns it on its head. We take a look at the ultra-cool literary tattoos cropping up around the Fiction Writing Department and the inspiration behind them. We shine some light on the innovative ways storytellers are using social media to reach their audiences. And of course, we’re excited to share our feature interview with the one and only, the ever hip, ever insightful Irvine Welsh. There’s plenty to geek-out over in this issue but also plenty to learn from, as department alumni and a professor show us the path to publication after the manuscript has been written. Looking back at what I’ve experienced during the production of this issue and during my time in the Fiction Writing Department, the sentiment that there’s plenty to geek-out over but also plenty to learn seems all too appropriate. Being one prone to geek-outs, I’ve had my share of inner-squeal fests at hearing particularly beautiful or clever or striking turns of phrase, as I’m sure we all have. I’ve also learned a great deal about what it means to be a writer, not only from my professors, but also from fellow students. I hope that while reading this issue of fictionary you, too, find a moment of sheer writerly glee that gives way to a moment of discovery and new understanding.

Stephanie Velasco April 2011

Columbia College Chicago Fiction Writing Department 600 South Michigan Avenue Chicago, IL 60605


Fiction Writing Department Chair Randall Albers

Faculty Advisor Sam Weller Bobby Biedrzycki

Fictionary Managing Editors Stephanie Velasco Karen Schmidt

Assistant Editor Nicolette Kittinger

Associate Editor Linda Naslund

Copy Editors Stephanie Velasco Linda Naslund Bobby Biedrzycki

Photographers Moe Martinez Ian Merritt Daniel X. O’Neil Sheree L. Greer

Contributing Writers Greg Baldino Ann Hemenway Claire Shulman Noelle Aleksandra Hufnagel Nicolette Kittinger Maggie Ritchie Karen Schmidt Kevin Kane Bobby Biedrzycki

Graphic Design Stefan Coisson, Creative Services

Thanks to the Student Organization Council for the funding that helps us continue publishing.

Special thanks to Deborah Roberts, Linda Naslund, Nicole Chakalis, and the staff of the Fiction Writing Department Mention of the Story Workshop®may be encountered in fictionary. Story Workshop is a service mark (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Registration No. 1,343,415) of John Schultz, who originated and developed the Story Workshop approach.

Cover photo by Moe Martinez

3 ANN HEMENWAY’S LIST OF HIdDEN (AND NOT-SO-HIDDEN) GEMS WRITTEN BY WOMEN 4 Inked! Fiction writers and their literary tattoos By Maggie Ritchie


7 CELL STORIES dan sinker on the rise of digital publishing


8 running with it A profile of Bill hillmann BY NI CO LE T TE KIT TINGER

features 10 IRVINE WELSH the fictionary interview BY NI CO LE T TE KIT TINGER

14 AFTER THE MANUSCRIPT how to navigate the road to publication BY KA REN S CH MIDT

news&notes plus… 5 On the Shelf by KE VIN KA NE

20 News & Notes, Breaking News from the Fiction Writing Department by kevin k ane

24 FROM PAGE TO STAGE THE ART OF writing for performance BY BOBBY B IE DR Z YCKI




Worth a Thousand Words Au d re y Ni ffenegger on the M arri age o f Vo i ce a n d I mage by

Ann Hemenway’s List of H i d d en (a n d not -s o- hi d den ) Gems W ritten by Women

Greg Baldino books, prose novels, and comics. When you start to get an idea for a story, what influences are at play between the story and the format? AN:  The form of the thing usually seems quite clear to me at the beginning. I might try it out in my mind a few different ways, but there is almost always an immediate fit between the idea and the basic form. For example, I thought I might make The Time Traveler’s Wife as a graphic novel (not a comic, but a book of aquatints like The Three Incestuous Sisters) but realized that the time shifts called for something more fluid, a novel or a movie. Since I had no idea how to make a movie by myself, I opted to write it as a novel. Sometimes I will save an idea for years because it doesn’t have an obvious form. I am collaborating on a ballet now with a choreographer. When I asked him what sort of story he wanted and he told me, I knew that I had just the right idea; it’s been waiting for ten years. It’s a fairy tale. I never imagined it as a ballet until that moment, when it slid into place. Sometimes the story is a good fit for a certain medium because the tradition embraces it (fairy tale and ballet is a very old combination) and sometimes it’s interesting because it goes against expectations (for example, Art Spiegelman’s Maus derived a lot of power from its startling rendering of the Holocaust in comics form). PHOTO BY moe martinez

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but for Audrey Niffenegger there’s no competition: story comes first. Whether with her novels The Time Traveler’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry, visual books such as The Three Incestuous Sisters and The Adventuress, or her new graphic novel The Night Bookmobile, she’s telling stories in every medium available to her. This spring, she joins the Fiction Writing Department teaching a marriage of voice and image.


GB:  You’ve taught classes in Columbia’s Book and Paper Arts program, and this spring you’ll be joining the Fiction Writing Department as fulltime faculty. How has teaching what you know and love affected your own work as a writer and artist? AN:  I think it’s important to be made to think about other people’s problems. Other artists and writers are working on problems I don’t usually cope with; my problems are different from theirs. We can often provide a fresh approach to each other’s problems. At least we can ask slightly ignorant questions, and in our ignorance we can perhaps give a glimmer to the person who is struggling. The classroom is a great arena for this sort of thing. It’s a source of energy and allows me to take directions I might not if I only sat at my desk alone, trying to work. GB:  The books you’ve published have told stories in a variety of different ways: illustrated picture

GB:  The Three Incestuous Sisters tells a full, elaborate story without dialogue. When you came to write The Time Traveler’s Wife, how did your experience with silent storytelling affect how you used dialogue in a prose novel? AN:  The Three Incestuous Sisters is a melodrama: all the emotions, gestures, and actions of the characters are exaggerated because they are being communicated visually. The prose is minimal, it’s only there to communicate essentials, like the inter-titles in a silent film. It’s a very rigorous way to work. By comparison, the writing in The Time Traveler’s Wife is very expansive and relaxed. At the beginning I felt a bit giddy to have all the tools of fiction at my disposal. The most obvious influence the first two visual books had on The Time Traveler’s Wife is in the episodic aspect of that book’s structure. I used to spread all the etchings out and rearrange them, thinking about various ways they might be reordered. That interchangeability influenced the way I wrote The Time Traveler’s Wife: out of order, constantly rearranging it. • • • fic • • •

Alias Grace

by Margaret Atwood Based on an actual 1840’s Canadian murder case, Atwood fictionalizes, but never strays from facts. Grace Marks was a servant who was tried and convicted, along with a male accomplice, of murdering her employer and his housekeeper-mistress. Yet accounts conflict: Was she accomplice or instigator? Atwood uses contemporary news articles, poetry, and broadsides in this dark and poetic postmodern novel. The use of both first and third person is never distracting, but creates layers of perception and doubt. This book pushes historical fiction to its limits and into art.

The Man Who Loved Children

by Christina Stead Fiction Writing Department Chair Randy Albers listed this book in his fictionary article and Jonathan Franzen wrote about it in the New York Times in June 2010. Need any more be said? Read this book. A masterpiece. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl.

The Narrows

by Ann Petry Few writers dig into internal perception like Petry does in The Narrows. The story of an interracial relationship in the early 1950’s and its effect on every social strata of a fictional New England town, it is operatic in scope and tragedy. The characters are breathtakingly well developed. The low-down and the hightoned collide in this underappreciated, brilliant book.


by George Eliot It seems the Victorians are not especially popular these days, but Eliot’s dismantling of nineteenth century myths and her masterful grappling with multiple points of view makes reading Middlemarch worth bucking contemporary fashion. Its subtitle is A Study in Provincial Life, and Eliot creates a fictional Midland England town and by doing so, creates a world. Unlike Dickens, Eliot is never melodramatic, nor does she stray toward pathos. The tragedies and comedies of Middlemarch are subtle and bone deep.

The Guns of August

by Barbara Tuchman No historian has clarified the causes of World War I like Tuchman. She sorts through the alliances, miscommunications, and royal relationships, always making us aware of the unbelievable and unstoppable folly that affected the rest of the twentieth century.


by Charlotte Brontë We’ve all read Jane Eyre (and if you haven’t, please do), but Villette is a more mature work, based loosely on Brontë’s experience studying in Brussels. Deeply self-reflective and observant, the narrator in Villette is even more an outsider than Jane. Parts of this book are almost hallucinogenic. Brontë still uses the “Dear Reader” direct address, but the story is much more complex.

The Fiction Department’s Ann Hemenway was recently named Columbia College distinguished teacher. • • • fic • • • 3 — FICTIONARY SPRING 2011


INKED! T he f i c tion

THE QUESTIONS 1 . Explain. What the hell is your tattoo all about?

W riting Depa rtment ’ s Liter ary tattoos by

2 . What is it about this book or author that made you get a permanent reminder of it? 3 . What do you feel you take as a writer from this book/author?

Maggie Ritchie

4 . Who dunnit? Where does your artist work?

Rachel Fink-Sigler 1 . On my side I have Herman Melville’s most famous antagonist, the great white sperm whale, Moby Dick. I thought that by putting the “impossible” on myself, maybe some of the pressure, the constant reminder of time, would almost surrender to the space, and hopefully allow myself to not worry so much. 2 . I think Moby Dick is one of the greatest characters/symbols ever written. He represents obsession, idealism, God/religion, existence, and the universe. He is what one searches for, tries to control and understand during life. He is the greatest unknown.


3 . Everything is a journey. Embrace fascinations and ideas. Let them guide and control, but do not think that anything will be resolved by finding answers. 4 . I got it at Chicago Tattoo and Piercing, right off Belmont.

Maggie Ritchie 1 . An apricot from Madame Bovary. Rodolphe sends Emma a breakup letter hidden in a basket of apricots so her husband won’t see it. 2 . When I read Madame Bovary, I forget that I’m a writer. Flaubert is creepy-good at doing a million things on the page at once, balancing several different points of view with images, with vantage point, with amazing dramatic objects (like, say, a breakup letter in a basket of apricots) with meaning.


3 . As a writer, I wish I could take more from Flaubert! He helps me remember to use images, objects, gestures, etc., to raise the stakes.

Bobby Biedrzycki 1 . A portrait of Hubert Selby Jr. 2 . Selby told the stories of people who society considered outcasts. Many times that meant poor people or homosexuals, drug addicts and criminals. His books seemed to say that these individuals have stories too, and their lives are important. I also love the rhythm of his prose. As I studied him further I became very inspired by Selby, the man. He overcame many bouts with physical illness and substance addiction, to really become, at least in my mind, one of the great American writers of the past century. I wanted to pay tribute to him.

The following selections feature five Fiction Writing Department alums and faculty who have recently published books.

3 . Risk. Selby seemed willing to go wherever the story needed to go, and that takes guts, especially when you are first attempting to do it. For him, sometimes that meant dealing with possible censorship due to the language or content. Other times that meant delving into personal experience and using that in his work. I hope to always have that willingness as a writer. 4 . Miles Maniaci at Deluxe Tattoo.

Behnam Riahi 1 . A dead goldfish. In the first chapter of Catcher in the Rye, Holden talks about a short story his brother wrote called “The Secret Goldfish,” about this little kid who had this goldfish that he never showed to anyone (truth was, the goldfish was dead and he didn’t want anyone to know that he couldn’t take care of it). I think we all have things we’re ashamed of that we don’t want to admit to the world, but I prefer to wear mine on my sleeve. 2 . Catcher in the Rye was part of my inspiration to become a writer. Until then, I was as clueless as Holden himself, but J.D. Salinger so skillfully portrayed the inner depth and hypocrisy of the teenager that it transcended generations. 3 . I learned everything I know about storywithin-a-story from Catcher in the Rye. And I can’t think of any first-person narrative with more voice than Catcher. The point-of-view, while being almost exclusively Holden’s, is layered with what Holden assumes are the points of view of others.


Muddy as a Duck Puddle and Other American Similes AUTHOR:

Laurie Lawlor PUBLISHER / DATE: Random House; 2010 from the publisher: This collection of similes from A to Z is as zany as a chigger chased around a stump. It includes rib-tickling folk expressions from Americans of all walks of life and all parts of the country in a bodacious tribute to both our country’s diversity and pioneer heritage. There is a funny simile and uproarious illustration for each letter of the alphabet. Readers who are as curious as cats will enjoy the fascinating author’s note that explores the origins of the expressions.

4 . Ian Rust at Metamorph Studios.

4 . Nex at Metamorph Studios.


PHOTOgraphy BY moe martinez




Cell Stories da n sin ker o n The Rise of Digita l P ublishing

Dialect Writing Authenti c a n d Artisti c by

Claire Shulman


Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston Harper & Row, 1990

s. Not “You de one started talkin’ under people’s clothe me.” 1 no young “Whut’s de matter wid you, nohow? You ain’t no ain’t You looks. yo’ ‘bout d insulte all girl to be gettin’ forty.” 2 nearly n, woma ole uh You’se gal. ’ courtin young fifty. How “Yeah, Ah’m nearly forty and you’se already d of always instea imes come you can’t talk about dat somet pointin’ at me?” Ah mention “T’ain’t no use in gettin’ all mad, Janie, ‘cause lookin’ ain’t heah in y Nobod mo’. no gal young no ain’t you for no wife outa yuh. Old as you is.” Ah ain’t no “Naw, Ah ain’t no young gal no mo’ but den too. But age mah looks Ah reckon old woman neither. Ah 3 Dat’s uh it. know Ah and me, of inch every n woma Ah’m uh and here round whole lot more’n you kin say. You big-bellies voice. big yo’ but it to ’ put out a lot of brag, but ‘tain’t nothin down Humph! Talkin’ ‘bout me lookin old! When you pull 4 life.” uh e chang de lak look you s, yo’ britche “Y’all really “Great God from Zion!” Sam Watson gasped. playin’ de dozens tuhnight.” 5

hoping his “Wha—whut’s dat you said?” Joe challenged, 6 ears had fooled him. 7 “You heard her, you ain’t blind,” Walter taunted. dat ‘bout mah “Ah ruther be shot with tacks than tuh hear self,” Lige Moss commiserated.

his vanity Then Joe Starks realized all the meanings and of illusion his of him robbed had bled like a flood. 8 Janie e. terribl was which h, cheris men all that ess irresistible malen But Janie David. to done had ter daugh Saul’s that thing The before had done worse, she had cast down his empty armor he When ng. laughi on keep would d, men and they had laughe er consid not would they er, hereaft ssions paraded his posse and pity the two together. They’d look with envy at the things the man that owned them. 9

­– 5 –

Hurston writes in a language of folk idiom, similar to that which appears in her folktales, stories, and novels. Janie speaks this mix of language and in this scene “crosses over” from silent wife to strong woman. Hurston’s achievement is to create in Janie a fascinating character and to deliver the power of everyday speech to the written page while simultaneously preserving the oral traditions of African American culture.

they existed for one day and that’s it, with a chance to reread the weekend immediately following their publish date,” he says. “With a desktop, or even a laptop, you come to the machine. With a mobile, the machine comes to you; you interact with it when you’re comfortable, where you’re comfortable.” CellStories publishes submissions in fiction, personal narrative, and journalism, as well as partners with several other small presses and local reading series to come up with the 260 stories a year. Sinker continues to be amazed and encouraged by his growing readership. “That’s the great thing about working digitally: you know who’s reading, when they’re reading, where they’re reading,” he explains. “The number two country for CellStories this past month has been India. Prior to India’s ascent, it went US, Australia, Canada, South Africa. That’s the real incredible thing about working in mobile media: mobile is a worldwide thing—billions and billions of users.”

1 . While previous dialect writing focused more on spelling changes than on other devices, Hurston changes the spelling of a couple of words and makes nonstandard grammatical changes to capture Janie’s southern speech. Using a colloquial phrase, Janie accuses Joe of starting the argument and of making private matters public. In one sentence Hurston delivers Janie’s voice, a voice anchored in African American culture. 2 . Repetition of negatives emphasizes Joe’s insult. Notice the spelling of “You’se,” old American dialect usage often found in the written speech of African American characters (see Mark Twain and Charles W. Chesnutt). 3 . Listen to the rhythm of these powerful words, reminiscent of Sojourner Truth’s “Ar’nt I a Woman” speech of 1851. 4 . Janie pulls the trigger and shoots the ultimate male insult. Her victorious rebuttal is a combination of vernacular speech, idiom, and devastating figurative language. 5 . “Playing the dozens” is an African American verbal ritual popularized humorously in television sitcoms. But as Geneva Smitherman points out in Black Talk (1994), players “test not only their verbal skills but also their capacity to maintain their cool.” Joe and Janie’s verbal dueling is an essential movement in Eyes, and also a means of preserving in writing an important oral tradition in African American culture. 6 . Joe’s question and Hurston’s addition of colloquial personification show him stumbling, a move that precipitates his doom. 7 . Walter’s one-syllable words and parallel phrasing send a strong message to Joe that everyone knows he’s beaten. 8 . Hurston personifies vanity and exaggerates with a simile, an example of what she describes in her essay as “the will to adorn,” “the Negro’s greatest contribution to the language.” 9 . The biblical reference and language style deepen the tone so that even as we’re told the men laugh, ultimately they and we pity Joe Starks. • • • fic • • •


Noelle Aleksandra Hufnagel

PHOTO BY Daniel X. O’Neil

Stories have always found a way to be told—whether it’s orally, printed on paper, scrawled on a napkin, or written on a wall—and now as technology continues to change the way we communicate, a good story is just a few clicks away.

shousetsu. These novels begin as text messages which then become chapters that are sent out to readers. The movement continued to spread and grow in popularity in other countries around the world. In the US, new websites, such as or, developed as a response to this new digital form, creating online writing communities and social networking sites where users could write, read, and share stories on their computers or cell phones.

Digital story publishing provides a unique opportunity for writers to have their voices heard and to connect with a broad audience of readers, an opportunity that may not be as readily available for some in traditional book publishing. This new medium includes everything from online magazines and literary journals, to personal websites, blog spots, and Facebook. Now digital storytelling is hitting your mobile phone.

Daniel Sinker, former editor of Punk Planet magazine, taking inspiration from this emerging cell-phone culture, set forth to explore and expand the limits of digital publishing. In September 2009, he founded CellStories, a mobile storytelling initiative that offers a new story daily, exclusively to your iPhone, iPad, Droid, Blackberry, or other mobile device.

For over a decade, people in Japan have been writing and reading cell-phone novels, or keitai

“When I launched it, the idea was really that the stories themselves were ephemeral, that

Sinker is also a professor at Columbia College Chicago in the Journalism Department, where his classes focus on entrepreneurial journalism and the mobile web. “The main thing is to get students thinking about how transformative all these technologies are, and how much it’s going to impact their future careers. The sooner people can figure that out, the more effectively they can start plotting their paths forward.” In the introduction to We Owe You Nothing, Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews, he writes, “Punk said that anyone could take part—in fact, anyone should take part.” It’s this kind of entrepreneurial attitude that Sinker has adopted in his own life and continues to model in his professional endeavors. This should serve as great news to emerging writers, who might consider taking advantage of all the expanding alternative media outlets. Digital publishing doesn’t have to take away from the world of books—it can add to it—allowing more writers a platform to have their stories read and their voices heard. • • • fic • • • FICTIONARY SPRING 2011 — 7


Running with It A Profile o f Windy Cit y S tory S l a m Found er Bill Hillma nn by

Nicolette Kittinger “A crazy-ass kid who had no place reading a book picks one up and starts to obsess about literature and starts writing. And he gets lucky and meets some good people.” That’s how Fiction Writing Department MFA candidate Bill Hillmann describes himself. The unabridged version is the stuff of legend. The book that launched the obsession was Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, which Hillmann read in one sitting shortly after his twentieth birthday. It was the first novel he’d ever read cover to cover. He immediately threw himself into reading and writing, winning a short-story contest at his undergrad institution while also training for the Chicago Golden Gloves boxing tournament. He won that, too. When fellow boxer Marty Tunney learned of Hillmann’s writing interest, he invited him to a Sox game, “I know all these big-time writers, come on out,” Hillmann remembers Tunney telling him. He was skeptical, but took a chance. It paid off in spades: Tunney introduced him to full-time faculty member Don De Grazia and Irvine Welsh. By the end of the day, he had handed both of them a short story of his to read—a ballsy move indicative of Hillmann’s networking style. And read they did. The encouragement came next. His new mentors turned Hillmann on to Columbia College Chicago. They urged him to apply to the Fiction Writing graduate program, writing him letters of recommendation. Everything he’d been working toward, and the idea for Hillmann’s hit reading competition Windy City Story Slam, started to gel in the Fiction Writing Department’s workshops. “I didn’t really put together that telling a story and writing a story were the same thing—that took Columbia. The first time that we did Take-a-Place and I did an oral telling for Alexis [Pride], and she was just like, ‘Yes! Yes! That is it! That. Is. It!’” It was a boxing scene, told with gestures, “because that’s just how I tell a story.”


PHOTO BY moe martinez

A fan and frequenter of Marc Smith’s Poetry Slam, it occurred to Hillmann that there should be something like that for storytellers. And here the legend becomes history. Windy City Story Slam is now rounding out its second year of programming. 2010 was a big year, with the show hosting the first National Story Slam during the Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Fest and traveling with a team of storytellers to the UK to compete (and win) against a London story slam in the first international competition of its kind. “When I get an idea I just run with it now,” says Hillmann. His work outside of Story Slam has been just as successful. Excerpts from his thesis, Bryn Mawr, have seen publication in print, online, and been broadcast on local and international radio shows. And echoes of his first inspiration are still heard in Hillmann’s work. But unlike Hemingway, Hillmann actually runs with the bulls every year—and has spun his experience into a successful body of reportage and nonfiction. Earlier in 2010, his radio essay, “Running with the Bulls” won the Edward R. Murrow Regional Media Award, he was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal and on Public Radio International’s The World, and he shared his running with the bulls experience on NPR’s The Story. “It’s like winning the lottery,” he says. Everybody’s got a story, and Hillmann’s is proof that audiences still root for an underdog with drive. “You can change your entire fucking life right fucking now just by changing your mind, and changing your mind about your limitations.” • • • fic • • •


Slut Lullabies AUTHOR:

Gina Frangello PUBLISHER / DATE: Emergency Press; May 2010 Nutshell (from website): Frangello continues her exploration of the power dynamics of gender, class, and sexuality in this collection of diverse, vibrant short fiction. Slut Lullabies is unsettling. Like the experience of reading a private diary, these stories leave one feeling slightly traitorous while also imprinting a deep recognition of truths you did not know you felt. From titular story “Slut Lullabies”: I found out my mother was a slut from my best friend, at a bar with my secret Greek boyfriend who was possibly a homosexual and his uptight brother who pretended to know nothing of our affair. I was high on myself that evening. It was a buzz I got rarely, the way somebody who hardly ever drinks gets plowed after one sip. At eighteen, I had progressed from being a girl who never attracted much attention, to a woman who never attracted much attention—so this kind of evening, featuring me as the heroine of an illicit liaison, flanked by single, sexless friends who suspected but could not confirm my “other life,” made me feel like a tingly imposter with all eyes upon me.



irvine welsh the f i c tion ary interview by

Nicolette Kittinger

With seven novels and four short-story collections under his belt, stage and screen adaptations of both, and countless other articles and projects done and in the works, Irvine Welsh is arguably one of the busiest, hardest-working contemporary writers out there. This spring, the Fiction Writing Department is proud to have him as a guest during Story Week 2011—his third time back to the festival. Welsh carved some time out of his busy schedule to catch up with fictionary over email and talk about his writing process, his highly anticipated forthcoming prequel to 1993’s Trainspotting, Skagboys, and what he’s looking forward to about his next Story Week. Nicolette Kittinger: When did you first start writing? Irvine Welsh: The real question is “When did I stop?” I think we all write, like we all paint, as kids, but we get it knocked out of us by the dictates of commerce. I stopped and went back to it by a happy accident, when I was about twenty-eight. NK: What brought you back to writing at twenty-eight? IW: Running a club called “Invisible Insurrection” with Kevin Williamson. We had readings the next morning after the rave, where people could listen to poetry and prose and eat breakfast after dancing and taking drugs all night. I thought, I could do that, so I did. NK: Did you have much encouragement of your writing in your early days? IW: Yes, I was lucky to be in Edinburgh at the same time as Kevin Williamson, Barry Graham, Alan Warner, Duncan McLean, and Paul Reekie. There were many others, it felt like a real community of writers. All those diverse personalities didn’t always get on (after all, they are all Scottish), but I think they always encouraged and inspired each other. NK: Was your family supportive in your early days, like your fellow Scottish writers? IW: My then wife was great, just let me get on with it. I think it came as a shock to everyone when it became so successful, probably harder for them to deal with than me. Basically, you just want to go away and not be bothered by anyone, and that can be hard on people. NK: Do you notice an appreciable difference between your Scottish fans and American fans? IW: Yes, in Scotland so many people that come to my readings tend to be from certain tribes. It’s more broadly-based in America.

NK: What writers have influenced you most? How have your influences shifted since you started writing? IW: I think you’re always inspired by other writers. I loved Waugh and Orwell, then found writers from Scotland like Kelman, Gray, and McIllvaney. Then I moved onto Russian writers, then American literature. NK: In a 2004 interview with Alan Black for 3AM, you said, “Every kind of book I’ve written has been written in a different way…I haven’t re-invented the process every time but I almost have.” Do you have any writing rituals, habits that survive your change in process from book to book? IW: Not really. There’s nothing that stands out as sacrosanct. There’s a few coffee shops in Chicago, Miami, Edinburgh, and Dublin where staff must think, “Is he just going to sit there all day nursing one cup of tea?” NK: Is a story organized completely in your head before you begin it or does it unfold, surprising you as you go along? IW: The best ones will always surprise you. You might think you have it all organized, but you’re always hoping for that mystical thing to pop into your head and knock you sideways. NK: Can you share an example of a story that you thought you had organized in your head but surprised you? IW: I wrote one for Reheated Cabbage which I thought was about a DJ in Miami, and it turned out to be about a retired, very religious schoolteacher coming to terms with a homosexual act he partook in forty years ago. NK: When you set out, do you already know if you’re working on a novel, short story, or play, or do you discover that after the writing’s begun? IW: Usually after the writing has begun. Sometimes you just keep seeing it as happening on a stage or in a filmic way, and you have to submit to that.

NK: What happens next in that process, after you’ve recorded your thoughts? IW: I throw most of them away because 90 percent of it is garbage. I transcribe the interesting bits. NK: While you write, do you have an audience in mind? An ideal reader? IW: No, I’m pretty selfish, I write the sort of stuff I’d like to read myself. I don’t really think about how others will react to it until it’s finished. NK: How did you come to write plays and films? IW: From the staging and filming of my books. When you go through that process, you see the potential and possibilities of other storytelling media more sharply. NK: What’s it like working with a writing partner—in your case, Dean Cavanagh? IW: Dean and I are very close friends and have a strong working relationship. We’re both pretty easygoing and flexible about the processes we use. If it isn’t working, we’ll mix it up. It wouldn’t be easy to work with someone else, but our temperaments seem to match up. NK: 2009’s Good Arrows was your featurelength directorial debut. Previously, you’d done other short films. How do you like being in the director’s chair? IW: It was a great experience. You have to have a strong vision for the piece, but film is such a collaborative thing, you can’t think you’re the big expert. It’s important to make sure that everybody is on one side and pulling together. Actors really put themselves on the line, and you really have to spend time with them and win their trust if you’re going to get them to give a big, emotionally honest performance, rather than just get out their tools and busk through it. I have great admiration for actors, and their courage and skillset.

NK: Does oral storytelling fit into your writing process? IW: Yes, I have loads of tapes I’ve made up with me just ranting into a DAT recorder. 10 — FICTIONARY SPRING 2011

PHOTOgraphy BY moe martinez



“You might think you have it all organized, but you’re always hoping for that mystical thing to pop into your head and knock you sideways.” NK: You’ve done some acting yourself. How did you like it? Can we expect to see you on the big (or small) screen again? IW: Yes. I get offered a few parts. It’s strange, I’m actually getting half decent at it now. In negotiations to play the part of a pushy journalist in a Hollywood movie as we speak.

NK: What was your experience teaching in the Fiction Writing Department at Columbia like? IW: Very good. I know I would say that anyway, but it just was. Both groups I had were full of talented writers. The staff were great and supportive, and I made a shedload of good friends from there. It was a wonderful experience.

NK: Skagboys is your third book centered on Renton and Sick Boy (not to mention their cameos in other works). What compels you to keep returning to them? IW: They are my sort of first love. I spent a lot of time constructing them, so they seem more realized in my mind than many other characters.

NK: You’ve been quoted widely saying that writing programs are better for older students. In your experience as a writing instructor, what did you notice were the most common mistakes made by young writers? IW: I usually exaggerate for the case of making of a point. I think that younger people who have been through the education system at any level already have the skills to write. Many of them just haven’t had or been able to process life experience. So what you get are some very wellcrafted high school stories, that unless they are completely crazy or belong to a highly original voice, tend to be a bit of a dime a dozen.

NK: This spring you’ll be back to Story Week for the third time. What keeps you coming back? IW: I’m pretty much resident in Chicago these days, and I have relationships with the Fiction Department.

NK: You’ve mentioned that portions of Skagboys are actually bits of material from Trainspotting that didn’t make it into the book. Is there other “leftover” material? IW: Yes, there are a lot of bits and pieces about the Skagboys/Trainspotting/Porno characters. I have loads of material on them, stories which grew out of their back stories. For example, I have a load of stuff on Sick Boy and his first wife on holiday with his in-laws in Tuscany, which didn’t make Porno for reasons of space/time frame.

NK: What do you think of the published fiction coming out of university writing programs? IW: I worry about anything that is produced by a hegemonic education system. Most of all, I would be concerned about the need for a diversity of voice and technique. I think it very much depends on the school and how they see themselves, and the people involved in teaching.


NK: Can you share your favorite (so far) Story Week memory/experience? IW: They all involve Don De Grazia and late night dive bars. We basically haven’t stopped since the first Story Week I did. NK: How long have you been working on Skagboys? IW: Too long. It needs to come out. It should be 2012. As it’s something I’ve had around for ages, in some form or another, it’s been more problematic for me than I could have imagined.

NK: A lot of your work shares a very specific world. Was this a goal, or a symptom of the old trope “Write what you know”? IW: Probably more a symptom of writing about what you know. NK: Which of your books is your favorite? IW: Filth is my favorite as Bruce Robertson is a great anti-hero and spoiled idealist. NK: Which is your least favorite? IW: Ecstasy. It was probably too hurried and needed another draft.

NK: Which of your books do you think is the best? Which do you think is least successful, from a writing perspective? IW: I like Glue, but I have hopes for Skagboys. Writing wise, I’d say Ecstasy. I don’t mean to rubbish the book, I like it a lot, but I could have done better. Didn’t give that one the start in life it deserved. NK: Is there something you wish you could go back and change about Ecstasy? IW: If I could be bothered to look back at it, I would. But basically, after I’ve written them, I forget them. The only reason to go back is to promote them, or if they are being adapted for stage or screen. There are plenty of new things to get on with without being the curator of stuff you’ve already done. So I’ve no inclination to go back, I accept it for all its flaws. NK: What do you have in the works, other than Skagboys? What’s next? IW: Loads of things. It’s having the time to sit down and write them that’s the issue. You realize that you’re going to expire without having finished everything you have to say, that’s a pretty sad thought! • • • fic • • •

Welsh Be yo nd the B ooks Casual fans of Irvine Welsh’s work are no doubt familiar with the screen adaptation of his cult hit, Trainspotting. But Welsh has had his hand in stage and screen projects since then, earning him more than just Based On credit. Here’s a brief look at a range of his work—from stage, to screen, and a little acting, too.

The Acid House

Feature Film, 1998 Writer and Actor (as Parkie in “The Granton Star Cause”) With twenty-one stories and a novella, The Acid House would have been difficult to adapt for the screen in its entirety. Instead, Welsh selected three stories to focus on: “The Granton Star Cause,” “A Soft Touch,” and “The Acid House.” Welsh had more screen time in this adaptation, playing the role of Parkie in the first segment, “The Granton Star Cause.” The production was nominated for a BAFTA Award in 1998.

Is it Over?

music video, 2001 Director One of Welsh’s first directing efforts, this video was for a single from English alt-rock band Gene comeback album, Libertine. It was shot in southern England’s New Forest. Gene is no more, but you can find Welsh’s music video on YouTube.

Babylon Heights


short film for TV, 2007 Writer and Director This dark comedy clocks in at just over eighteen minutes. With a length like that, and the tagline “Stubbornness is the strength of the weak,” there’s no reason not to seek it out and take a look; it’s widely available to stream online.

Good Arrows

Feature Film, 2009 Writer (with Dean Cavanagh) and Director (with Helen Grace) Good Arrows was Welsh’s feature film directorial debut. Broadcast on TV in the UK but sold elsewhere as a feature (making it his first non-TV feature not based on his work), the film is a mockumentary about the world of professional darts. “But it’s difficult to do a mockumentary on darts because it’s so hyper-real anyway,” Welsh said in an interview with the Times. “So we decided to have darts as the backdrop and make the film about our obsession with minor celebrity.”

Play, 2006 Writer (with Dean Cavanagh) Munchkins and sex parties and Hollywood lore—oh my! Babylon Heights wasn’t just an imagining of the experience of the dwarf actors cast in MGM’s 1939 The Wizard of Oz, it also explores the broader victimization and discrimination experienced by people of restricted growth.




Saving Grace AUTHOR:

Patricia Rosemoor PUBLISHER / DATE:

After the Manuscript How to Navi g ate

the Road to Pu b lic atio n by

Karen Schmidt

So here it is. Your finished manuscript is sitting in front of you. As you flip through its pages, moments come flooding back: the months of frustration; the agony of searching for the exact, right word; the many moments of discovery that pushed your story forward; the hours furiously typing when everything just clicked. Workshops and headaches and rewrites and unbridled joy and now, finally, your manuscript exists and it is everything you ever hoped it would be. But now what? We asked four writers, each at different stages in their careers and the production of their own books, for insight into what they learned as they traversed the (sometimes) rocky terrain of the publishing industry. After gaining the knowledge of these authors’ experiences, you’ll have no choice but to gather those printed pages splayed out before you, strengthen your resolve, and embark on your own journey of making your dream to publish your manuscript a reality.


Harlequin; April 2010

Opening: Opening: She was the most stunning creature he’d ever seen. The raven-haired woman entered through a door that should have been locked. Behind her, the street was muted with fog that curled over the pavement and up the streetlights. Declan McKenna stood frozen at the front desk of Vieux Carré Investigations and let the stapler he’d just picked up tumble from his fingers back to the desktop. Blurb: Grace Broussard never thought she’d trust a man again… until she met the right McKenna. Declan was a P.I. and he made New Orleans a safer place, but Grace’s case was almost too hot to handle. He knew she needed protection from more than simple blackmail. Every touch they shared knocked something loose, and the passion it ignited was too powerful to deny. But every touch also brought the curse of the McKennas closer to fulfillment—and certain death. Now, only Declan could save the life of the future Mrs. McKenna.


features The First Step by

Sheree L. Greer

This past summer, with the full-on encouragement of family, friends, and a wonderfully inspiring group of writers–Sam Weller, you and the Summer Novelists Club were exactly what I needed–I finally finished my novel. The novel, When in Rome, is an extension of my thesis, a testament to long days of personal mining for story, countless hours in semicircles, workshopping with trusted readers and fellow writers, and stalking my thesis advisor, Eric May, even after I relocated to Florida. I’m pleased with it, as pleased as a writer can be, which means I’ve convinced myself, with some difficulty, that I am not an imposter, my work is not crap, and at least one person (who is not my mother) will be interested in what I have to say. With my manuscript printed, all 307 pages, I am faced with the next task. It’s time to make some decisions: agent or no agent? Small press or big-name house? What’s my market? Who is this book for? Why should anyone spend money publishing it? These are the questions that go into the research, the letter writing, the proposal kits. This is the work of shopping a finished manuscript. Hmmmm. Shopping? I know what shopping is, and something about the process of trying to get published doesn’t fit my understanding. Shopping implies that I, the writer, am the shopper—the one with the money to spend and the power to choose. What a misappropriation of terminology. I have no money; I have no power. I am not shopping. I am a shopkeeper, hunched over my manuscript pages, realigning them and stacking them just so, hoping and praying while watching the real shoppers–publishers, editors, agents–walk past my counter, judging my merchandise. It’s a process wrought with frustration, uncertainty, and forced patience. And it doesn’t help that we’re in dire economic straits as a nation where buying food for thought loses out to food for stomachs. Yet, I press on, a diligent storekeeper, making sure my manuscript–that sadly becomes more product than labor of love with each new query–looks shiny and new, interesting and worthwhile. I submit tirelessly, hoping that a publisher or agent will stop and ask, “How much for that book in the window?” Since correctly identifying my role and coming to terms with what it means to shop a manuscript, here is what I’ve been doing: 1. Researching markets, genre, agents, and publishers. I’ve decided to focus on small publishers who work with authors directly. 2. Following the rules for submission—a great tool is Michael Larsen’s How to Write a Book Proposal. I’ve put together a standard


Ryan Sinon

Sheree L. Greer

proposal with all the “expected” parts, yet found ways to make the package my own. 3. Writing witty, confident cover letters while being mindful of arrogance—“This will be the best book you’ve ever read. Trust me. I know good books,” clichés—“Just when you thought there was nothing new in autobiographical fiction …” and bitterness—“Do you know how hard I worked on this book? No. You don’t. So don’t be an ass. Give me a shot already.” 4. S ubmitting my bestest, cleanest copies ever—whether it’s the first ten pages, first three chapters, or by the grace of the cosmos the shopper wants to see the whole thing, I make sure my submission fucking squeaks. 5. I’m waiting. 6. I’m waiting. 7. I’m waiting. 8. I ’m working on some new hotness … while I’m waiting. 9. I keep waiting. I keep working. 10. If rejected, on to the next publisher or agent, i.e., I start at number three and do it all again. The alternative to number ten, my manuscript actually being accepted, remains to be seen. Stay hopeful, friends.

is an MFA graduate from Columbia College Chicago’s Fiction Writing Department. While teaching writing and literature at St. Petersburg College in Seminole, Florida, Sheree is shopping her novel and working on new hotness of all kinds.

is a writer and illustrator from the suburbs of Chicago. He is an MFA graduate from Columbia College Chicago’s Fiction Writing Department and his writing and artwork have appeared in Hair Trigger, F Magazine, Cicada Magazine, and Annalemma. Ryan is currently seeking publication for his collection of illustrated stories

PHOTO BY Sheree l. greer

PHOTO BY moe martinez

Finding an Agent

Bu y S ta mps a nd Wait

It’s May 2009. The U.S. economy has tanked, unemployment is running rampant, and I’m graduating with a master’s degree in Fiction Writing.

A month later, Audrey and I met at Columbia’s Book & Paper Arts Center where we talked for about an hour. She was gracious, generous, and down to earth. She had no silver platter upon which my future as a successful author lies, but she did offer one golden nugget of advice.


She told me to go to the library.

I was haunted by the question that so many fiction writing graduates face: What am I going to do with my thesis?

“Look at the books you admire. Who publishes them? Who represents those authors who write work similar to your own?”

Time passed. Rejection letters arrived. Rejection e-mails arrived. I became a familiar face at the post office and developed a taste for envelope glue.

Confession: I hadn’t a clue.

She suggested I spend an afternoon combing through Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents. I left our meeting, weighed down by the most impossible homework assignment of my life: Find yourself a literary agent.


Ryan Sinon

Little did I know, the next few months would turn out to be a crash course in how to find a literary agent. While different authors take different roads to find representation, there are a few universal truths that are worth sharing to anyone seeking a home for their manuscript.

N etwork I hate the word just as much as you, but it turned out to be a vital step in moving my manuscript forward. My first bit of networking came from Columbia’s Fiction Writing Department. After seeing some of my illustrations and reading one of my stories, faculty member Tom Popp asked if I was seeking an agent. He suggested I reach out to writer/ illustrator Audrey Niffenegger, author of two “visual novels” titled The Three Incestuous Sisters and The Adventuress. I was thrilled with the idea.

I mmerse Yoursel f I hit the library. I found Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents and spent an afternoon flipping through the “Agents” section. It’s a huge book, heavy enough to bludgeon someone and thick enough to use as a child’s booster seat. I compiled a master list of agents: any little kernel of information that might match my work to their interests.

With my agent list in hand, I hit the post office just as hard as I hit the library. Every two weeks, I’d send out a batch of submissions. Each contained a cover letter, one story from my collection, and five illustrations.

Then, around Thanksgiving, lightning struck…twice. Brenda Bowen from Sanford J. Greenburger Associates wrote asking for my entire manuscript. The next day, I received a similar note from Peter Steinberg at the Steinberg Agency. I was over the moon and instantly dropped two copies of my manuscript in the mail. Peter read my manuscript within a week and immediately called. His excitement practically shook from the receiver, and he promised he’d find a place for my book, no matter what. He was willing to represent. I told him I had a second agent considering the manuscript, and I’d let him know as soon as possible. Brenda gave me a call two weeks later. Same deal: loved the art and the writing, the only caveat being she had nowhere to place it. When I explained to her that Peter was equally

enthusiastic and promised publication, she suggested I stick with him. I called Peter to let him know (to my surprise there was no contract or handshake, just a verbal agreement over the phone) and just like that— voila!—I had an agent.

Be a Dirt y Artist I sent Peter hard copies of my illustrations and manuscript (everything prior to this had been submitted electronically). Around mid-March, he gave me a ring with notes on six of my stories. I spent the next two months in a sort of writer’s dream. I woke up every day and immediately started working on rewrites. I lived in my pajamas and left my room to eat and use the washroom. Some days the writing moved an inch. Other days it jumped a mile. By mid-July, rewrites were complete and Peter was even more excited about the collection. Shortly after this, he compiled a list of twelve editors who might gravitate toward my work and sent each a copy of my manuscript. It’s September now, and I’m patiently waiting to hear back. It’s been a lucky road thus far, but I stand before you as living proof that finding representation for your writing is not impossible. Especially with guidance from those who’ve paved the way before you, your journey towards landing an agent will feel a little less like fiction.


features Big Publisher vs. Independent Press by

Sam Weller

For authors armed with a polished manuscript, the question looms—what are the benefits and drawbacks of a big publishing house? What are the pros and cons of aligning with a small indiepress? Over the course of my own writing career, I have gone with both. The reality is, most writers don’t have a choice. They take the best offer and hold on for the ride. Certainly, most dreamy-eyed authors hope to land a lucrative multi-book deal with a large, renowned New York publisher. The Simon and Schusters and the Randoms of the world often have the bucks to pony up at advance time. And, they get books out to the marketplace. The big houses have the vital distribution networks to get books into the chains. Barnes and Noble, in particular, still wields power, even in the rapidly shifting landscape of publishing with e-books gaining an ever-growing share of the market. The large houses have a small army of sales reps that not only work the chains, but they work the scrappy mom-and-pop stores that have managed to hold on, even as brick-and-mortar corporate behemoths have morphed into clickand-download corporate behemoths. The market may be changing as we speak, but the vital question still remains—does a publisher have the distro-acumen to get books into the hands of readers? In general, the goliath New York houses still hold the keys to wide distribution. But this doesn’t necessarily mean when it comes time for your book to drop, that your Herculean NYC publisher will push your book and get it out to the world. This all comes down to the print run, the support of the publisher’s marketing team, and the pre-orders from the chains (often predicated on advance press, pre-publication reviews in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and the like). So, just because a writer signs with a big house, it does not necessarily ensure that every B and N is going to carry his or her book. Ditto with the 16,671 public libraries (counting both central and branch locations) in America. As for money, it is true that the coffers of the corporate publishing giants tend to be larger than those of the small, devoted indie-presses. This said, if your book has commercial potential, the upfront advance is likely to be larger from a big New York house. So what are the benefits of the aforementioned, scrappy, D.I.Y. done-with-heart-and-a-shoestringbudget-independent-publisher? For starters, nearly all of the big houses will not even look at a manuscript unless it is submitted by an agent. No agent, no deal. A number of small press publishers will look at “unsolicited manuscripts.” 18 — FICTIONARY SPRING 2011

Sam Weller is the authorized biographer of writer Ray Bradbury. Weller’s book, The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury was a Los Angeles Times best seller, winner of the 2005 Society of Midland Authors Award for Best Biography, and a Bram Stoker Award finalist. The companion book, Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews, was published by Melville House/ Stop Smiling Books in 2010 and named as one of the top ten books of the year by the Chicago Tribune. Weller is a professor in the Fiction Writing Department at Columbia College Chicago

is an MFA graduate of Columbia College Chicago’s Fiction Writing Department. His book, Building the Green Machine: Don Warren and Sixty Years with the World Champion Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps, was released by Savas Beatie in 2008.

PHOTO BY ian merritt

PHOTO BY moe martinez

Beyond this, many independent publishers have good distribution, often as solid as the big New York guys. An author considering going with a small publisher should do some homework. Look at the company’s current and backlist titles. Are they easily found online and available for immediate shipment? Do the chains carry books from the house in question on their shelves? A little detective work will yield a wealth of information. Also, and this is important, look at the design and print quality of the books. Do they look professional? One drawback of many a small press is the amateur design, inside and out. In my experience as an author and as the former Midwest Bureau Chief of Publishers Weekly magazine, with the big houses, books get lost in the mix. Unless you are Dan Brown or J.K. Rowling or Oprah has come down from the mount and anointed you the next new thing, it can be easy for a book to vanish. This is not usually the case with the indies. With an independent press, the company often has more on the line. Consequently, they often put their heart into marketing and publicity, something you don’t always see from the Manhattan mega-publishers. And independent publishers welcome a writer who wants to put time and energy (and money) into book promotion. Of course, all of these rules are changing.

Colt Foutz

Marketing Yourself by

Colt Foutz

“You know what’s great about a drum corps book?” I offered, as a crowd gathered before the Cavaliers’ souvenir T-shirt display beside me. I was accompanying the drum corps on their three-month, forty-city summer tour in an attempt to connect with, and sell books to, stadiums of potential readers. “It never needs ironing. You can spend four days with it, and it won’t need washing. Eat all the stadium nachos you want, it won’t fit snug.” Usually, these lines earned smiles but not many sales. But such was the hand-tohand marketing phase of my book’s life. I might have wilted in the heat if I hadn’t laid the groundwork and begun spreading the word months earlier. Where did I do it? The Internet. Strategically harnessing the Internet helps make sales less about one-on-one conversations than enticing broadcasts to the masses. Here are a few techniques that worked for me.

Use S ocial Networks My friend tally on MySpace went from 200 or so the month before my book was completed to nearly 4,000 by its release. These were all potential buyers. The trick is not to go around touting your book with every electronic breath,

but to get into the spirit of social networking. I spent nearly three years immersing myself in drum corps culture to write a book about it. A lot of people out there share those same interests. The natural move: Connect!

midst of my book’s publication, I was blogging on MySpace, Facebook, Blogspot, my publisher’s site and my own site. You’ll showcase yourself as an active writer, and make new contacts to support your work.

Seek out potential readers by browsing the friend lists of authors and publishers in similar genres, or joining book discussions or fan pages on the site. If you’re open and friendly, few will get turned off and far more will spread the word to their friends. These are the friends—and readers—you turn to for five-star ratings and rave reviews on Amazon.

S howc ase Your E xpertise and C onnections

On Facebook and MySpace, I connected with three other young writers who had published books about marching music. We were able to share contacts and P.R. opportunities, and stump for each other’s books.

Follow Author Sites , Agent and Pu blisher Blogs and Join the Dis cussion Anytime your name gets out there—whether it’s through a comment on an industry blog or an agent or author’s site—your book gets out there a little more. But don’t just lurk: consider blogging about your own journey as a writer, and your own impressions of the industry, while also linking back to blogs you regularly read. In the

My foray into Blog Talk Radio was suggested by my publisher. The site made it easy to set up my own station and host shows broadcast live on the Internet. Between tour stops, I interviewed connections I’d made through the book. The programs were recorded and available to be embedded as podcasts in blogs, on web pages— wherever I could use them. As for other opportunities to showcase your expertise, you can rework portions into articles, interviews, even personal essays. I wrote articles on individual drum corps and historic personalities, or sat for interviews with Drum Corps World, Drum Corps Planet, Drum Corps International, and others. When Chicago Public Radio interviewed me, they siphoned my knowledge to preview the Cavaliers’ home show. In other words, you don’t wait for your press clippings to come to you—you play an active part in leading the discussion.

Make Your B ook W eb site a Fun, I nterac tive S ourc e for Inform ation Your publisher will probably have a page for your book, but they will control the content, and it won’t be updated frequently. You’ll want to purchase your own domain name and maintain your own site. You’ll need an uncluttered main page with links to pages including Events, Press, Author Bio, Book Preview, Multimedia, Links, and a blog or forum. The blog or forum enables you to update content as often as you want. Keep a tour journal, offer contests and prizes, and allow comments. Include links to publications that cover your book by linking to their sites and stories. The peak of my 2008 book tour came at the three-day drum corps world championships in Bloomington, Indiana. Oh, I still sat in the sun long enough to bake brown as binding. I trotted out the old lines as if I were on automatic. But more often than not, as a fan sidled up to my table and I got ready to launch into the old shtick, they drew breath and beat me, with lines that were music to my (sunburned) ears: “Oh! I’ve been hearing about that book. I’m glad I can finally buy it!” In the game of hand-to-hand marketing, that made two of us. • • • fic • • •



Kevin Kane


This is by no me a ns an exhaustive list o f ac c o mplishments by our fac ult y, stud ents , a nd a lumni, but these hi ghlights will give a brie f glimpse o f the ta lent, energy, an d invo lvement o f the peo ple in o ur Fi ctio n W riting Department here at C olum b ia C o llege Chi c ag o during the pa st f ew mo nths .

W e W a n t To H e ar F rom yo u !

of note: Full-time faculty member Lisa Schlesinger moderated the Modern Theater roundtable on “Language and the Iraq War”; “Acting Together on the World Stage: Theatre in Conflict Zones II” Theatre Communications Group conference, June 2010; presented on the work of Goldenthread Festival for Middle Eastern Theatre on NPR. She was also part of a collaborative performance in Ramallah and Jerusalem with Ashtar Theater, Bread and Puppet Theater, and the International Arts Academy of Palestine. Wuturi Theater in Seoul, South Korea, produced her collaborative play, Twenty One Positions: A Cartographic Dream of the Middle East, in spring 2010. She was also awarded a Faculty Development Grant for 2009–2010. L is a S chlesin ger

Part-time faculty member Geoff Hyatt received his MFA from Columbia College in 2009. While in graduate school, an internship at Star Farm Productions led to a full-time staff writer position on novels published by Little, Brown and PenguinPuffin UK. His short fiction has appeared in the anthologies Night Terrors and Rock & Roll is Dead, as well in Criminal Class Review, Necrotic Tissue, Knee-Jerk, Temenos,, and elsewhere. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America accepted him as an active member in 2010. Geoff’s dark fantasy novel, Malagon Rising, was published in October 2010 by Leucrota Press. Geoff teaches Story in Fiction and Film at Columbia College.

Geo ff H yatt

MFA alumnus David Peak’s novel The Rocket’s Red Glare was published in 2010. His chapbook Dreams of the Darklands was published by Mud Luscious Press, and his chapbook of poetry, The Destruction Loops, is forthcoming from Solar Luxuriance. He had writing published in the Rumpus, Action Yes, JMWW, Corium Magazine, For Every Year, Emprise Review, Radioactive Moat, HTMLGIANT, Unscroll, Pif Magazine, Monkeybicycle, and Kill Author. He also read an excerpt from his thesis, “The River Through the Trees,” for Apostrophe Cast. Since moving to New York, he’s read alongside Dawn Raffel at the Soda Bar in Brooklyn. His newly formed press, Blue Square Books, just released its first title with two to follow, including Sean Kilpatrick’s fuckscapes in 2012.

LE T US KNOW wh at you know a b out recent sta ff/a lumni/facult y ac c omplishments . C ontact us at: c olum. ed u/a lumni

Full-time Faculty Sam Weller’s interview with Ray Bradbury was published in The Paris Review. Melville House Press/Stop Smiling Books published his book Listen to the Echoes in June 2010. He has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, CNN, Wired, Time Out Chicago, Newcity, the radio programs Eight Forty-Eight in Chicago and Commonwealth Journal on Boston Public Radio, and Fox News Chicago. In June of 2010 he was chosen as a member of Newcity’s “Lit 50: Who really Books in Chicago.” In July of 2010, Weller interviewed Ray Bradbury live at the Gene Siskel Film Center via Skype. He did multiple signings including one with Ray Bradbury and Black Francis in 2010 at Mystery & Imagination bookstore. He also gave nationwide lectures on Ray Bradbury for the National Endowment for the Arts. Patty McNair presented at the National Association of Writers in Education conference in England and conducted workshops at Interlochen Academy in Michigan. She cotaught “Journal and Sketch: Ways of Seeing” at Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point, Wisconsin, in October of 2010 with adjunct faculty member, Philip Hartigan. She also received grant funding from the Illinois Humanities Association for community workshops and a public arts project in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, and a Faculty Development Grant from Columbia College Chicago for 2009-2010. Her book, The Temple of Air, Elephant Rock Books/Productions, will be available in spring 2011.

Nami Mun received the Teaching Excellence Award from Columbia College Chicago in May 2010 and was the featured author at Columbia College Chicago’s Friends of the Library Signature Showcase, November 9, 2010. Don De Grazia had an article, “I am the Witch of the Dance and My Hex is Disco: a Conversation with Irvine Welsh,” published in MAKE Magazine. Audrey Niffenegger, “Disparate Creators Go ‘Beyond the Panel’” Publishers Weekly, Oct 2010; “The Three Creators: Pop Matters at the Chicago Woman in Comics Panel” Popmatters, Oct 2010. Joe Meno won a Pushcart Prize for his short story, “Children are the Only Ones Who Blush,” published in One Story magazine. He presented at Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, May 1, 2010. He taught at the University of Technology, Sydney, as part of the UTS, Bath Spa, and Columbia College Fiction Writing Department International Creative Research Partnership in May 2010 and presented at the Sydney Writers Festival. He was also chosen as a member of Newcity’s “Lit 50: Who Really Books in Chicago.” Ann Hemenway was awarded a Faculty Development Grant for 2009-2010. Randy Albers, chair of the Fiction Writing Department, presented at the European League of Institutes of the Arts Conference 2010. He was also selected to the committee to choose the first inductees into the Chicago Writers Hall of Fame.


Wormfood AUTHOR:

Jeff Jacobson PUBLISHER / DATE: Medallion Press; May 2010 Opening: Arch Stanton is sixteen, scrawny, and dirt poor. He has an almost supernatural ability with firearms, but it may not be enough to survive the weekend. Welcome to Whitewood, California, an isolated small town in northern California, a place full of bad manners and even worse hygiene Fat Ernst runs the local bar and grill. He’d stomp on his own mother for a chance at easy money, and when he forces Arch to do some truly dirty work, all hell breaks loose. Fat Ernst’s customers find themselves being infected by vicious, wormlike parasites and dying in unspeakable agony. As events spiral out of control, decades of hatred boil over into three days of rapidly escalating carnage. Will anyone in this town escape… before they’re eaten alive?

David Pe ak



news & notes Adjunct Faculty:

Tom Mula directed Pagliacci and Tom Powers, October 5-6, 2010. Bobby Biedrzycki’s story, “Wanted: Dead or Alive,” was performed at “Boo(zy): An Evening of Spirits and Storytelling”, at DR2 Theater, New York, in October 2010. Bobby now teaches story and performance at the Goodman Theater, and he was recently named Director of Programming for 2nd Story. Kathie Bergquist edited the anthology Windy City Queer: LGBTQ Dispatches from the Third Coast, University of Wisconsin Press to be published fall 2011. Jeff Jacobson’s book, Wormfood, was released by Medallion Press in July 2010 and was reviewed in Publishers Weekly. His novel Foodchain was reviewed on Kirkus Reviews in April 2010. Chris Rice’s story “This Odd Present” was featured on Cellstories on March 4, 2010. Laurie Lawlor’s book, Muddy as a Duck Puddle and Other American Similes was published by Random House in 2010. She also won the 2010 Prairie State Award for Excellence in Writing for Children. Her biography of Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, Holiday House, will be released in 2012. Jessica Young presented on a panel for “Defining the Black Agenda: NABJ-Chicago Steps into the Raucous Race Debate,” April 22nd, 2010. Julia Borcherts’s article, “That Retro Glow,” was published in Time Out Chicago in July 2010. She was a featured reader at the Tamale Hut Café along with alumnus Max Glassner. Lynn Shapiro’s adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank was performed at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights in April 2010. Deb Lewis has a story upcoming in Windy City Queer: LGBTQ Dispatches from the Third Coast, University of Wisconsin Press in fall 2011. Gina Frangello’s short-story collection, Slut Lullabies, was published by Emergency Press in June 2010. It was reviewed in the Chicago Tribune, Newcity, and the Chicago Reader. She was chosen as a member of Newcity’s “Lit 50: Who Really Books in Chicago” and interviewed by Donna Seaman on Eight Forty-Eight in June 2010. J. Adams Oaks’s book, Why I Fight, was reissued as a trade paperback by Simon and Schuster in July 2010. Mort Castle published “The Doctor, The Kid, and The Ghosts in the Lake,” F Magazine 9, “Dreaming Robot Monster,” Mighty Unclean Dark Arts Books. His novella “The Old Man and the Dead” was reprinted in both the Best New Zombie Tales by Books of the Dead Press and The Zombie Archives


published by Random House/Vintage, and his article, “Write like Poe” was reprinted in The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing from Writer’s Digest Books. He was also nominated for this seventh Bram Stoker award. Doug Whippo had a story performed as part of “Boo(zy): An Evening of Spirits and Storytelling”, in the DR2 Theater New York, in October 2010. James Sherman’s play, Jacob and Jack, was performed at Victory Gardens Theater in the spring of 2010.


David Witter’s book, Oldest Chicago, was published by Lake Claremont Press in September 2010. His essay “J.B. Hutto and Lil’ Ed Williams, Blues Legacy Through Blood and Spirit” appeared in BluesSpeak, the Best of the Original Chicago Blues Annual published by University of Illinois Press in 2010. Rea Frey’s novel The Cheat Sheet: The Ultimate Survival Guide for Uncovering an Affair is forthcoming from Adams Media in June 2011. Bethsheba McGruder won the 2010 Hurston/ Wright Award for College Writers. Ingrid Rojas, MFA alumna, was chosen as a semi-finalist in Amazon’s 2010 Breakthrough Novel Contest for her novel La Niebla. Lisa Bess Kramer, MFA alumna, published “Top Treatments for Depression” iVillage July 2010. Robyn Eastman, MFA alumna, published a chapter of her novel in the anthology Stories of Rell Sunn: Queen of the Makaha from Bess Press in October 2010. An excerpt from her novel also appeared in F Magazine in fall 2010. Jim Boring’s poems “Pancakes” and “Bloodsport” appeared in Poets & Artists Vol 3. Issue 6 in July 2010. Jeff Oaks, MFA alum, Sheree Greer, MFA alumna, April Newman, MFA alumna, and Rose Tully, alum, have stories upcoming in Windy City Queer: LGBTQ Dispatches from the Third Coast, University of Wisconsin Press in fall 2011. Lex Sonne, MFA alum, has a short story collection forthcoming from Lark Sparrow Press in 2010. He was also published in The Criminal Class Review Volume 3, Number 1. Jantae Spencer, MFA alumna, ran “Teens Acting in Community” part of the Great Collaboration: Creative Justice Roundtable & Celebration in May 2010. Melanie Datz, MFA alumna, was awarded the David Friedman Memorial Award for her story, “The Man with Kaleidoscope Eyes” published in Hair Trigger 32.

J.A. Konrath, alum, published Draculas, available December 2010 on Amazon.

Andrew Shepperson’s story “Cremation” was published in The Coachella Review, Oct 2010.

Mark Beyer MFA alum, published The Village Wit, available December 2010 on Amazon.

Kristen Fiore’s short story “How Light Things Are” was published in Flash Quake. Her short story “Rage” was published on in spring 2010.

Ksenia Rychtycka, MFA alumna, read at Ukrainian American Writers: A New Generation of Literary Voices, August 15, 2010. Chelsea Laine Wells, Fiction Writing Alumna, published “Swallow,” Evergreen Review, Sept 2010. Kim Morris, MFA alumna, and Molly Each, MFA alumna, had readings of their stories at “Boo(zy): An Evening of Spirits and Storytelling”, October 2010. Judy Veramendi, MFA alumna, had her play Alegrias Y Lágrimas (Joys and Sorrows) Raven Theatre Oct 2010.

Graduate Studies:

Daniel Duffy published “An Interview with Linda Bubon” and “An Interview with Steven Erickson” in Word Riot in July 2010. Kevin Kane published a book review, “Man’s Companions by Joanna Ruocco” in Word Riot, June 2010 and “An Interview with Christian Peet” in Word Riot, July 2010. Nicolette Kittinger’s short story, “Relations” will appear in Annalemma #7. Her short story, “Unsent Letter #9” was published in Unheard Magazine in August 2010; “Attempts on a Life” appeared on the Annalemma online edition; “Eleventeen” on She performed in the Windy City Story Slam versus the London Book Club in the United Kingdom in July 2010. She also took first place at the Windy City Story Slam in June 2010 and was a finalist in the 2010 Windy City Story Slam Finals at the Double Door. In the spring of 2010 she was awarded the John Schultz and Betty Shiflett Story Workshop Scholarship. Christopher “C.T.” Terry was awarded the Elise Dubois Memorial Tuition Award in Spring 2010. His essay, “I, Wigger” was published in the anthology, The Audacity of Post-Racism, published by McSweeney’s Books in 2010. Kurt Kennedy won second prize in the 2010 National Society of Arts and Letters, Evanston Chapter, Literature awards for “On the Fence” and “Sordiv of Lake Michigan.” In February 2010 he read his story “The Emperor of the Universe” on Chicago Public Radio. His story “Mother at the Polling Station” was published in Zine Columbia summer 2010. He was also nominated for the Columbia College Chicago’s 2010 Excellence in Teaching Award in the English Department. Jenny Seay was named University of Chicago’s, Assistant Director of the Parent’s Program, Dec 2010.

Bill Hillman won the Edward Murrow Regional Media Award in January 2010 for his story “The Running of the Bulls.” In 2010, “Stud” a novel excerpt was published on along with his book review of Uncomfortable Dead. His short story “Thorndale Avenue JagOff” appeared in Liquor Store Lit in May 2010, and his story “Scrapper” appeared in the Criminal Class Review. He also read his essay “The Golden Gloves” on WBEZ Chicago Public Radio 848 in April 2010. Jessie Morrison’s short story “The Auctioneers” appeared in Word Riot in April 2010. Her unsent letter, “Dear Sara’s Sister-in-Law, Who Planned Sara’s Bachelorette Party” was published on in January of 2010 and “Greaser Girl” was published in Flash Me Magazine in January 2010. In August 2010, Jessie was also chosen to blog, for one school year, for the online column “MFA Confidential” on Karolina Faraci hosted the 21st annual Polish Film Festival in Chicago in November 2009. In the spring of 2010 she co-hosted a telethon to promote Polish culture. Maggie Ritchie was a finalist in the Windy City Story Slam All-City Championships in February 2010. In September 2010 she read in Chicago at Webster’s Wine Bar with 2nd Story. Patrick Salem’s story “Night Skirmishes on the Home Front” appeared in 6S.


Susanna Main presented her project “Portrait of Uptown” at the Arcade Gallery exhibition of Albert P Weisman Award winners in September 2010. In the spring of 2010 she was awarded the John Schultz and Betty Shiflett Story Workshop Scholarship. Vince Perritano received an Honorable Mention for the Elise Dubois Memorial Tuition Award in spring 2010. Erin Nederbo won a $500 scholarship and acceptance into the South Hampton Writer’s Conference in South Hampton, NY. Bryce Berkowitz published “Express Stain to Kimball” The 2nd Hand, fall 2010, “Dad’s Pistachio Bowl” Fiction at Work, March 2011. Christopher Butera published “A Willing Ear” Pill Hill Press, fall/winter 2010; “For Love of the Echo” Death Rattle Magazine, Oct 2010. Katelyn Ziolkowski’s story “Ketchup and Mustard” appeared in The 2nd Hand.

Alexis Thomas’s story “Cotton Candy and Burning Tires” appeared in The 2nd Hand. Her article, “White Mystery Answers the Question on Everyone’s Mind” appeared on She was also a finalist in the Windy City Story Slam All-City Championships in February 2010. Lauryn Allison Lewis’s interview with Stuart Dybek was published in Knee-Jerk Magazine, October 2010. Jason Smith’s story “They Watch TV in Heaven” was selected by curators of Columbia College Chicago’s Silver Tongue Reading Series to be delivered on during Manifest’s Urban Arts Festival in May 2010. Greg Baldino’s short story “Camera Shy” appeared in the Toucan Magazine in May 2010. Vanessa Pegram had a story, “How I knew: Ode to My Creepy Neighbor” published in Mad Licks in April 2010. She also performed this story in April 2010 at the Silver Tongue Reading Series. Abigail Shaeffer’s story, “The Invisible Woman,” was published in This Paper City in August 2010. Her non-fiction piece, “Whatever Happened to Self-Reliance?” appeared in the Chicago Tribune in July 2010.


Francesca Thompson won the Union League Civic & Arts Foundation First Place in College Division.

Jeff Jacobson

Foodchain AUTHOR:

Ian Richard Jones had various album reviews in Verbicide Magazine in June and August of 2010.

PUBLISHER / DATE: Five Star; April 2010

David Hughes’s short story “Rob the Rich, Feed the Hive” appeared on in March 2010.

nutshell: When a job goes bad and a horse dies on national television, the equine veterinarian, Frank Winter, is taken to a rundown roadside zoo where the animals aren’t just hungry. They’re slowly starving. And Frank is on the menu.

Keith Kappel appeared in Tweet the Meat with his story “I Hate Dolphins.” Amber Meade had an article, “Real Hurdles Along Rough Path of Fictional Steeplechase,” in The Columbia Chronicle on March 29, 2010. Greg Baldino became a correspondent for He published numerous articles including, “Converting Islam and Selling out Comics” in June 2010; “Touring North America with Ryan Clayton” in July 2010; “Scott Pilgrim vs. Greg Baldino: The Launch Party” in July 2010 and “Ray Bradbury’s Dream Egg” in August 2010. In April 2010 he wrote over fifteen articles including “Spiking the Boom” while covering C2E2 in Chicago. Lauryn Allison Lewis read her story “Bear v. Snake” at the Gothic Funk Reading Series, Nov 2010.

Under a brutal summer sun, Frank organizes a series of exotic animal hunts through the ranches and back yards of Whitewood, hoping to end the animals’ starvation quickly and painlessly. But he seriously underestimates the madness lurking under the surface of the desperate town. While Whitewood rots into a ghost town full of bones, blood, and gunpowder, vicious predators and hunters with itchy trigger fingers stalk the empty streets. It’s survival of the fittest as the hunts escalate into death matches between exotic animals and Frank must decide where he stands on the fine line between predator and prey.

Alumni, faculty, staff, & students, Please contact Linda Naslund at with your accomplishments today! •••





From Page To Stage T he Art of W ritin g


fo r Perfo rm ance by

Bobby Biedrzycki

The ability to tell a good story is an art. Think about that one friend or uncle you have that you always want to be standing near at the cocktail party or seated next to at the family meal, because you know they tell the best stories. Sometimes they have killer opening lines, or maybe they gesture wildly and emphatically to prove their point. The people around them set down forks and stop chewing, their eyes widen and their attention sharpens. Upon hearing a few sentences from the gifted teller they go from bored party patrons to full-on audience members. It’s magical. Subsequently, think about the bad storytellers you know, the ones who consistently ramble on without much sense of a point, who punch your shoulder to gain agreement, who laugh at their own jokes. It’s awful. What separates the engaging storyteller from the one that makes you space out and start thinking about your laundry? Watch and you’ll see that almost always the difference is in the performance. Currently the art of performance storytelling is blowing up all over the world. Pull out an alternative weekly in any major city and you’ll find some staged variation of what your uncle does so well at those parties. At its most basic, performance storytelling consists of one person on a stage, telling a story to a live audience. Sometimes the tellers are judged and a winner is declared, other times the tellers collaborate with musicians and present something closer to a monologue. As a member of the quickly growing live storytelling community here in Chicago, I now write many stories that, from the point of conception, are crafted to be performed. Sometimes I collaborate with musicians or vocalists or even DJs who provide sound design for these stories. And often I rehearse the stories for weeks with a director, a theatrical director.


Yes. I know. To be honest, I didn’t embrace any of these elements openly when I started this writing and performing adventure five years ago. The idea of “performing” a story seemed to spit in the face of what I considered to be the sacred literary tradition of “reading” your story without much voice inflection, so as to let the words do the work. Performing felt like kitsch, and I did not want to be that guy. But whenever I went to a storytelling event I was intrigued by the lively reaction of the audience. Eventually, a close friend and fellow writer called my bluff. She was already doing live shows in Chicago and one night we were hanging out at a local dive bar when I launched into a story about puberty, telling a small table of friends how I lost my virginity. “Right there!” she said. “That’s what I want you to do. I want you to tell that story, just like that.” I cocked my head in mock confusion. Then she added, “But first you have to write it.” That was all the push I needed. I wrote the story the next day and began rehearsing it soon after. I performed it a few months later for a large crowd of people, and it was during that performance that something shifted for me. I realized I was connecting with the audience on an entirely different level. They were more present during this story, leaning forward in their seats, always eager to hear the next sentence. And afterwards they rushed over to me wanting to share their intimate stories of sex gone horribly wrong. Five years have passed since that performance, and the more stories I tell, the more it becomes clear to me that what makes performance stories work is what makes any great piece of writing work, meticulous crafting on the page. Whether I’m using lists, the dream form, or perhaps most importantly, the second person direct address, I’m constantly aware of how the text will translate when performed. I want the

story to have original language, tight scenes, clear imagery and movement, but I also want to engage the audience on what should feel like a conversational level. To make all this work in performance, it first has to be working on the page. Because what that amazing uncle of yours does in freestyle mode is not as easy as he makes it look. • • • fic • • •

PHOTO BY moe martinez

Greg Baldino, originally from Lansing, Michigan, Greg is a BA student in the Fiction Writing program. His fiction and journalism have been published in periodicals including the Washington Square Review, Skin Two, and City Pulse. He is a regular columnist for the website Bleeding Cool, and lectures and presents on comic book history and culture. He currently lives in Chicago with an increasing number of books.

Bobby Biedrzycki is a writer and performer who came to Chicago from St. Paul, Minnesota via The Bronx, NY. Bobby’s writing has appeared in the Black Bear Review, the Banana King, Ghost Factory, and Ante:thesis Volumes I & II. He is an adjunct faculty member of the Fiction Writing Department at Columbia College and the Director of Programming for 2nd Story.

Ann Hemenway, Director of Faculty Development, Ann earned her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has published fiction and creative nonfiction in Writing from Start to Finish, Emergence, Private Arts, Sport Literate, and other magazines. Hemenway is an AWP Intro award winner, and has edited numerous publications. She is a Certified Story Workshop Master Teacher and full-time professor in the Fiction Writing Department at Columbia College Chicago.

Maggie Ritchie is an MFA candidate in the Fiction Writing Department of Columbia College Chicago. Her fiction has been published in Hair Trigger 30 and 32, Ghost Factory 3, and Knee-Jerk. She is a two-time finalist for the Windy City Story Slam and has performed with 2nd Story, Orange Alert, and RUI.

MFA candidate Nicolette Kittinger is Co-Editor of Avery: An Anthology of New Fiction and Assistant Producer of Windy City Story Slam.

Kevin Kane is currently working toward his MFA in Fiction Writing from Columbia College Chicago, which he will hopefully use later with great success. In the meantime, when he’s not writing, he is reading books and sometimes writing reviews on them.

Noelle Aleksandra Hufnagel received a BA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University and is currently enrolled in the Fiction Writing MFA program at Columbia College Chicago. Her fiction has appeared in the Allegheny Review, the Story Week Reader, and Zine Columbia. She has stories forthcoming in Hair Trigger 33 and Hypertext Magazine.

Karen Schmidt has worked as the Managing Editor of the Story Week program for two years. She was the Assistant Editor on the 2009 issue of fictionary, which was awarded a Gold Medalist Certificate by the Columbia University Scholastic Press Association. Her award-winning nonfiction has appeared in fictionary, Newcity and Healhviews. Karen is a student of fiction writing at Columbia College Chicago, and her fiction has appeared in the online literary journal Kaleidoscopic Resonance.

Claire Shulman is a Part-time Faculty member in the Fiction Writing Department and a Teaching Excellence Award winner at Columbia College Chicago. She is currently working on a book, Zora Neale Hurston’s Moses, Man of the Mountain: The Power of Speech in the AfricanAmerican Community, part of the African-American Literary Series for Greenwood Press.


600 South Michigan Avenue Chicago, IL 60647 1996

fiction writing & playwriting degree programs

UNDERGRADUATE BA /Bfa degrees in Fiction Writing, with specializations in Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Playwriting, Electronic Applications, Publishing, and Story Workshop® Teaching; and BA /Bfa degrees in Playwriting, interdisciplinary with the Theater Department. graduate MFA in Creative Writing – Fiction, with specializations in Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Playwriting, and Teaching; MA in the Teaching of Writing; and Combined MFA /MA degrees. STUDENTS-AT-LARGE Welcome.



Develop your creativity, tell your stories, and gain skills essential for personal and professional development in the Fiction Writing Department at Columbia College Chicago.

Our renowned Story Workshop approach emphasizes voice, imagery, audience, and positive reinforcement of your strengths as a writer. For more information about our diverse study programs, extensive course listings, award-winning student anthology Hair Trigger, and visiting writers series, check out, or call 312.369.7611. Columbia College Chicago admits students without regard to age, race, color, creed, sex, religion, handicap, disability, sexual orientation, and national or ethnic origin.

Fictionary: Spring 2011  
Fictionary: Spring 2011  

The spring 2011 issue of Fictionary includes an interview Irvine Welsh.