Wednesday, October 29, 2014

This Week in Writing

Writer Michel Faber, author of The Crimson Petal and the White, has announced The Book of Strange New Things, will not only be his new but also his last novel to write and publish. 

Ali Mazrui, scholar and author of The Africans: A Triple Heritage passedaway on Oct. 12th at 81 years old. 

Meshack Asare is the 2015 recipient of the NSK Neustadt Prize granted by World Literature Today, a magazine of the University of Oklahoma, making him the frist African to win the award for Children’s Literature.

Essayist, poet and translator Michael Hofmann will host a live Q&A on Thursday Oct. 30th. Michael Hoffman has translated around 70 books from German to English, including Kafka’s multiple work, aside from Joseph Roth, Patrick Suskind and more, winning the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and English Arts Council grant.

Martha Weinman Lear, writer of medical memoir Heartsounds, comes out with a rueful epilogue about her own recent challenges with heart disease, Echoes of Heartsounds.  

-Zalma Aguirre

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Local Artist Spotlight: Tom Leveen

This week, Hayden’s Ferry Review had the opportunity to talk with writer Tom Leveen, an Arizona native writing in the competitive and demanding Young Adult genre. Instead of writing fantasy fiction, which is currently popular with teenagers and fans of YA lit, he bases his work in reality and focuses on real-world problems a teenager might experience. His stories reveal the complexity of seemingly minor issues in teenagers’ lives.

His books speak of the challenges that occur during the transition between high school and college, and teenagers’ need for orientation, support, and guidance. “You as a YA writer are the last person that will be able to make some impact in them, that might change their future,” he says. This is one of the reasons he writes the kind of books like Party, Random and Zero.

During our interview, he mentioned that he draws on his experience with theater to develop characters and change points of view. He attended sessions for classical training with the Utah Shakespeare Festival Actor Training program, gaining experience as a theatre actor and director. He says, “I encourage other writers to attend at least one semester of theater to know how to separate the different personalities of each character they want to involve in their stories.”

Tom has written five books and is currently working on several projects, one of which will be out in the market by August 2015. When I asked about the best part of writing, he said that not only teenagers read his books, but everyone can learn from them. “You deserve the time and space to write. Or read, for that matter. Work it out with whoever you have to. But write.”

Tom has spoken, taught classes, or been on professional panels for the following organizations: The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America, Phoenix ComiCon, Tucson Festival of Books, Arizona State University Rl Txt, and others. Additionally, Tom has been the Artistic Director for an independent theater company, Is What It Is Theater in Phoenix; been recognized by the Phoenix New Times for their annual “Big Brain Award” in the Performing Arts Category, been awarded  Best New Local Author 2012 by the Phoenix Magazine, and more. Check him out here: http://tomleveen.com/
-Zalma Aguirre

Monday, October 20, 2014

Behind the Masthead: Heath Wilcock

And now, the highly anticipated interview with HFR’s Special Projects Editor, Heath Wilcock! Heath gave intern Lauren Mickey the inside scoop on exciting topics, such as: stand-up comedy, fame, breakfast fowl, the to-be-installed HFR steam room, etc.

Lauren Mickey: Okay, so, you are the "Special Projects Editor" at HFR. What does this mean? What sort of "special projects" are you working on (or do you plan to work on)? 

Heath Wilcock: Special Projects Editor means that I run HFR. I'm the person in charge. I arrive in the HFR den promptly at 5am and demand my morning breakfast, which consists of one whole roasted fowl. Other editors are rarely in the office at this hour, and the janitorial service do not understand how important I am, so I'm usually left to my own devices. In this case, my device is actually a briefcase where I keep an entire cooked fowl locked inside. After eating my roasted fowl, I'm oftentimes covered in grease and need to bathe. But before I head to the HFR steam room, I sit at my desk and contemplate my sins. 

Special projects I'm currently working on: 
· Brand new HFR website
· HFR agenda for coming AWP
· Putting in a new steam room
· Being there for others
· Convincing everyone that I'm in charge

LM: You handle HFR's social media, correct? What does this entail? How do you keep things interesting on those sites / platforms?

HW: Yes, Lauren Mickey, that is correct. [turns to camera, grins wide, holds it for a solid minute] I tweet at least once a day. I do have a hard time finding a universal voice for HFR. I've been trying to play with it a bit. With a magazine that's over 25 years old, it has established a sweater vest literary fineness, and then I come in and try to make that sweater vest entity say something that's probably garbage. To avoid this qualm, I end up tweeting pictures of myself with a certain facial expression that is a cross between satisfaction and mistrust. That gets more attention than say "10 Reasons Kafka Despised Fondue Parties."

LM: You do improv. Does this at all affect your fiction writing, your work at HFR, your teaching, etc?

HW: Yes. It has a profound effect on developing scenes, establishing relationships, defining character statuses, finding the funny, exploring themes, turning mistakes into revelations, and so on. However, with writing I do slow things down a bit more, try to make it more complex with the use of language. Improv needs to be experienced in a live setting, whereas stories are striving for that timeless quality. You'll never see the same improv show twice, but you'll always return to the same story that shifted your thinking. I'll also act out my stories in my room, playing the different characters. It helps me see how a character would react to a problem that is honest to his/her traits. If my wife's around, I'll have her improv with me. She's great at reacting honestly.

LM: What is most exciting to you, as a reader of submissions? Are you particularly drawn to humor in prose, or not necessarily?

HW: I get the most excited when I come across a piece that is a tight ten pages and it leaves me breathing hard, either from laughing, crying, or simply exhausted from pleasure. I enjoy humor in prose, but I don't necessarily seek it out. I crave stories. Whether it's scary, philosophical, absurd, or sad, I just want to be involved. I don't stick to one food at the family dinner table, I absolutely dish myself a portion of each. Except that one dish that has been on the dinner table for a couple of months, leaks a smelly substance, and uses bad language when guests come over. I don't care for that dish, or story. 

LM: You're kind of Vine famous... Would you like to comment on that? Like, how does it feel to be famous? (Also, does HFR have a Vine yet?)

HW: I have yet to receive my multiple butlers that are required to carry me while I drizzle the finest Beluga serum on my naked body. And until this happens, I'm not considered famous. Vine is a great platform to create small scenes or share a strange image. That's what I like using it for. I'm surprised and grateful that so many kind people follow me. HFR does have a Vine account. It only has one post for our flash fiction contest. Definitely need to do more with that. 

LM: What are you currently reading / watching / generally obsessed with? Are any writers overwhelming you with their brilliance, lately?

HW: I'm currently reading a wonderful collection of stories by Shawn Vestal called Godforsaken Idaho. Let's see, shows I'm watching. I think Key & Peele is a fantastic show; every episode is smart, smart, smart. They get me excited to explore new ideas. Also Nathan For You is incredible. I have to pause that show to catch my breath. I also enjoy Bob's Burgers, Venture Bros., and everything from Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. Lately I've been watching a lot of documentaries, specifically Iraq and Afghanistan war documentaries. I'll watch them, get really upset, and then clean the house to cool down. I recently read Jeanette Winterson's Sexing the Cherry and she stimulated my senses, hard. I also just picked up Donald Antrim's short story collection The Emerald Light in the Air. Pretty excited to dig into that. His novel, Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World, was the most twisted, funny, and surreal book I've ever read and I couldn't get enough. Other obsession is Steve Martin. Will always be Steve Martin.

LM: Do you ever perform stand-up comedy sets for your students, or is that frowned upon? 

HW: I perform stand-up for my students and they sit there and frown. Then I have them circle around me and chant, "you're doing your best," while I openly weep. 

LM: What is the most magical thing about working at HFR

HW: The steam room, once I get that installed. 
_______________________________________________________________

Heath Wilcock is an MFA candidate at Arizona State University and currently serves as the Special Projects Editor for Hayden's Ferry Review. He lives in Tempe with his wife and four-year-old daughter.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Behind the Masthead: Allegra Hyde

This week, we get the behind-the-scenes on prose editor, Allegra Hyde.

Lauren Mickey: You’re a prose editor at HFR – but what does this mean? What are your main responsibilities?

Allegra Hyde: In the words of that strabismic wonder, Jean Paul Sartre, “There is only one day left, always starting over: it is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk.”
LM: Are there any writers, musicians, animals, theories, etc. that have all of your attention and/or admiration, as of late?
AH: I like unicorns and post-structuralism.
LM: What are some techniques, themes, etc. that you typically focus on - or return to - in your writing?
AH: In retrospect, I’ve written quite a few stories about loneliness. Also about people making immoral choices. Also about utopian communes. And, for reasons unknown to me, I have a difficult time avoiding the word “erinaceous.” It just slips in – burrows in, you might even say – so that it has appeared in almost every story I have ever composed. Sometimes I’ll use the word several times a page, and only catch it in revision. Maddening? Yes, and yet it is a comfort as well. To be trailed by a word the way one might be followed by a starving cat, or a robber, eventually becomes more of a ritual than an annoyance. You end up feeding the cat some tuna that you happened to be carrying in your pocket. You give the robber your grandmother’s sapphire necklace. Everyone is happy. You feel less alone.

LM: How do you describe HFR to people who ask you about it? 

AH: 7 by 10 by 1/2.

LM: What song(s) do you have playing on repeat lately? 

AH: Iggy Azalea's "Fancy."
LM: Has working at HFR changed the way you read and/or write?
AH: Yes.
LM: What do you think the color of your aura is? (I know nothing about auras, and I'm pretty sure that they're not self-prescribed, but whatever…) 
AH: Leopard print.
LM: What do you hope for your someday-legacy to be?

AH: A novel – or ideally, multiple novels – that occasionally appear on the shelves of musty bookstores, or as kindling for an expurgatory bonfire in some terrible dystopian future. If people feel the need to my books I will have done something right.
_____________________________________________________________________

Allegra Hyde’s writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in The Missouri Review, New England Review, Southwest Review, Passages North, Chattahoochee Review, and North American Review, among others. She curates similes at www.allegrahyde.com.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Brief Praise for GONE GIRL and What is Next In October

Whether you enjoy them or hate them film adaptations of books this year have seen relative success. It is mostly a struggle for a fan of a novel however to see their favorite book whittled down to fit two hours. There is the worry that favorite scenes and/or characters will be omitted. Then there’s the worry that one’s carefully constructed perceptions of setting and characters will be changed or distorted by another’s vision of the novel. However there is always that curiosity that one has in seeing how the novel unfolds visually. It almost gives us a moment to feel as if the world of the story, the characters, the connections are tangible.

So last week was the release of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn which has currently made number one in the box office ratings. A combination of elements has made the transition from book to film a success for Gone Girl. One major element is the fact that the film’s screenplay was written by the author herself so a lot of the major plot strands and her vision were held in place by her collaboration in this endeavor. Also we have a director who has made very successful film adaptations of books like Fight Club and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo create the suspense, the mystery of the novel by visually executing it with the help of actors like Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. This does not mean that this is the correct formula for every film adaptation, but this is only a success story.

In upcoming film adaptations for the month of October:

1.       Addicted
Director: Bille Woodruff
Book & Author: Addicted by Zane
2.       Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Director: Miguel Arteta
Book & Author: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
3.        Kill the Messenger
Director: Michael Cuesta
Book & Author: Dark Alliance by Gary Webb
4.       The Best of Me
Director: Michael Hoffman
Book & Author: The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks
5.       Dracula Untold
Director: Gary Shore
Book & Author: Dracula by Bram Stoker
6.       Before I Go to Sleep
Director: Rowan Joffé
Book & Author: Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson
7.       Horns
Director: Alexandre Aja
Book & Author: Horns by Joe Hill

-Leslie Verdugo