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interviews

Author Q & A with John Rudoy

Author Q & A with John Rudoy

January 28, 2022

This week we are bringing you a bonus interview with scientist and writer, John Rudoy. John is interested in migration, tradition, and assimilation and what these broad concepts really mean for the individuals who go through them. His writing has appeared in Science Magazine and the Maine Underground Writer’s Anthology. His story “Winter Generation” appeared in Issue #5 ~ Autumn 2021.

We asked John to tell us some unique or surprising detail about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of his story. His response was as follows:

“The story is purely fiction, but it is inspired by events in my family’s history that I learned of when I discovered some old writing by my great grandfather. He wrote largely in Yiddish, but I was able to decipher it because years before my now wife and I took German classes together when we were dating (Yiddish is written in the Hebrew script but its vocabulary and grammar are largely drawn from German). She fled Sri Lanka during the civil war there and ended up on an island in the Caribbean where nearly everyone was multilingual, so learning random new languages was her idea of a good time. It feels appropriate that a member of one, relatively new diaspora ended up helping a member of another, much older one, discover his origins.”

John also elected to give a little more insight into something he discovered through writing this story. 

“I am always interested in the setting a writer chooses for their stories. A setting is often a place you have lived in yourself, that you then choose to live in again, figuratively, while you write your story. What drives writers to choose the settings they do? I’m still not sure, but I surprised myself by settling on two places, Chicago in the winter, and the New England coast in the summer, that have both made very deep and very differently shaped impressions on me.  I am not sure this is something I learned about myself so much as further questions I have about myself, but I’ll say that counts.”

We agree that setting is a key component in most, if not all, writing because it provides so much context. Turning a magnifying glass inward, we can learn a great deal about ourselves from the places we gravitate toward using in our stories and poems. We also agree that this introspection often leads to more questions than answers. 

When we asked John what he thinks of when he hears the phrase “The Good Life,” his response was both astute and spot-on. 

The Good Life” raises the specter of ostentatiousness: champagne and yachts and shiny tuxedos. But “a good life” suggests a quotidian calm. A life that has worn tracks into the hardwood and the thresholds, and that knows, and is happy knowing, where its next step will fall. And to think some languages make do without articles! Don’t know how they do it.”

It is an important distinction indeed! That second sentiment is quite lovely and we can all aspire to feel that in our lives. Thanks for sharing, John, and thanks again for being a part of our 5th issue.

Cheers,
~The Good Life Review Team

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interviews

Author Q & A with Michael Wesner

Author Q & A with Michael Wesner

January 26, 2022

This week’s Author Q&A is with Michael Wesner. Michael holds a BA from Eckerd College, where he studied Creative Writing with a particular emphasis on the use of humor in literature. His story “The Shapiros,” appeared in Issue #5 ~ Autumn 2021.

We asked Michael to tell us some unique or surprising detail about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of his story. His response was as follows: 

“The Shapiros” is a Frankenstein’s monster of several half-baked story premises I’d had, all inspired after I moved to Florida. Some ideas came from reading local “Florida Man” news articles, like a Sheriff who arrested a man for assaulting his partner with a burrito, or a middle school girl who called in a fake bomb threat to get out of class. Others were scenes I’d observed in passing, like a local church that was converted from a Chinese buffet or a former neighbor who dragged a construction ladder into a bay to swim near dolphins, then screamed loudly at her kids about her ex-husband one Independence Day. I wanted to explore these stories through fiction, but I struggled to unify them into a cohesive narrative. The breakthrough came when I asked myself, “What if all of these weird stories came back to one person?” The story came to me quickly after that, as I tried to weave all those wacky, almost unbelievable premises into one character. The burrito might not have made the final cut, but I was left with what I think is a pretty colorful character study on the State of Florida.

Following through on that, we asked Michael what he learned (about himself, craft, or life in general) as he worked to merge all the different stories and characters together in one piece. 

His response: “I learned a lot about empathy while writing this story. A friend of mine who critiqued an early draft summed my feelings up perfectly when they said, “I’m certain that I would hate Sherry Shapiro in real life, but I can’t help but love her while reading this.” The details in the story might be funny circumstances, but weaving them together forced me to reconsider the humor behind them. Sherry Shapiro might be the funniest character I’ve ever written, but she’s also a contender for the saddest. Fiction forces you to emphasize with those who you might otherwise ignore.

We also asked Michael if he has any projects or upcoming events he would like to promote? 

I’ve recently started a newsletter/blog in an attempt to force myself to write more often. It’s easy for me to get tunnel vision and only think about fiction pieces, many of which never see the light of day, so this project is my attempt to write about more mundane topics just for the sake of writing about them. I cover concerts I’ve enjoyed, my favorite Lyft drivers, and every now and then I include a photo of my dog. If you’re at all interested, it’s called “Elephant Graveyard,” and you can find it on Substack: https://elephantgraveyard.substack.com/

The GLR has verified and certified this newsletter as top-notch. It’s lighthearted, entertaining, and quite insightful! We hope you keep at it, Michael. 

Finally, we asked, as we do, what he thinks of when he hears the phrase “The Good Life”. 

His response: “The phrase reminds me of the way a preacher might describe Heaven, or a retiree might refer to their retirement. Essentially, “The Good Life” sounds like satisfaction after years of hard work. I suppose that makes it an apt name for such a quality literary journal, where writers can read and appreciate one another’s work and recognize the dedicated labor that went into their art behind the scenes.”

Awww shucks. Way to butter us up! Our team first met while attending the University of Nebraska learning to fly and land that MFA plane, so we very much appreciate the time and effort that goes into each and every piece of writing. Thanks for sharing!

And thanks for being a part of our autumn issue and for participating in this Q & A!

Cheers,
~The Good Life Review Team

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interviews

Author Q & A with Katherine Kubarski

Author Q & A with Katherine Kubarski

January 19, 2022

This week’s Author Q&A is with Katherine Kubarski. Katherine is a grant proposal writer from Santa Fe, New Mexico. She’s long had an affinity for creative writing and rediscovered her passion at a retreat on the sacred island of Molokai. Her poem “Another April,” appeared in our latest issue of The Good Life Review.

We asked Katherine a number of questions and she elected to combine two of the questions to explain both how the pandemic affected her life and writing and how she came to finish a 14 year old poem. Her response was as follows: 

“The onset of the pandemic coincided with my father’s precipitous plunge into deep dementia that sadly altered the last 16 months of his life. As his primary caregiver, I became his human compass, orienting him when confused, redirecting him when agitated, and connecting him as best I could to the things that had lit up the length of his 94 years – jitterbugging to Sinatra, the memory of my mother, assembling a Polish casserole to share with family and friends. There is something miraculous about muscle memory, the spot-on execution of a dance step or the perfect slicing of thin rounds of potatoes and onions. Well-worn pathways lead to one’s former self, even when almost all is lost. 

“Well-meaning friends would encourage me to write about my pandemic caregiving as a possible path to my own catharsis and release.  But it was all too fresh and raw to handle. I had little strength to write about the storm while smack in the middle of it. 

“Instead, I took refuge in the toil of revision. Many nights, I’d dig up safe, familiar writing and tuck myself into the folds of the old work, often inhabiting a single poem for weeks at a time. Draft after draft, I’d burrow deep until on occasional mornings I’d wake up to a new image, wordplay, or insight that would take the poem in a new, truer direction. 

“’Another April’ is one of those poems. The bones of the piece were set 14 years ago as I emerged from another period of loss and exhaustion. As I revisited the poem during the pandemic I started by dwelling in its strata – of soft snow, frozen ground, fabric, epidermis – and gradually added new layers to convey the anticipated experience of surviving isolation, emerging from “cocoon-ment,” and unwinding the self to connect with the natural world and others once again. In the process, I have come to appreciate how in times when inspiration appears to be in short supply, taking a well-trodden path back to previous work can be a deeply rewarding experience.”

Katherine’s work has appeared in Mountain Gazette, Santa Fe Literary Review, Santa Fe Reporter (awarded first prize in the 2019 Poetry Contest), and Snow Poems Project.  In search of post-pandemic inspiration, she is headed with her laptop to a cabin in the forest of Chilean Patagonia where the world’s tiniest deer and other surprises await her.

Thanks, Katherine, for being a part of our 5th issue and for participating in this Q & A!

Cheers,
~The Good Life Review Team

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interviews

Author Q & A with Laurie Guerin

Author Q & A with Laurie Guerin

January 13, 2022

This week’s Author Q&A is with Laurie Guerin. Laurie is a spoken word artist who has performed her original works on stage throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. She has co-produced two live storytelling series, Word Up and Tell Me More in Santa Cruz,  California. Her flash essay, “The Code,” appeared in our latest issue of The Good Life Review.

We asked Laurie what fuels her desire to write?

Her response:  I’ve written ever since I was a kid. It was just in me. I’d disappear into my room at home or go sit by a lake on camping trips and return with a story. My mom would ask me to read them to her and sometimes, she’d cry. In high school, I wrote a story about a young woman who had found love just before discovering she was dying of cancer. It was awful, packed full of cheap romance novel tropes, but I had an audience of girlfriends who would gather around during lunch break to hear the latest installment. I’m sure the attention was heady, but so was pouring my unrequited romantic longing into bad prose and discovering it resonated. This remains a big factor in what fuels my writing. Connecting with people in an intimate way; a shared exploration into the heart of things.

We also asked her how the pandemic affected her writing?

Her response: “Much of what I’ve written over the past 10 years, I’ve presented at small storytelling venues. I love the collaboration with other performers as well as the immediacy of the reaction of the audience. The venues closed their doors and it felt as though anything I wanted to write was meaningless in the face of this catastrophe. But the beautiful community of writers to which I belong kept writing. We met over Zoom at first and later outside with six feet of space between us. Writing was a lifeline. We supported one another in delving deeply into the fear of what was happening, and we also found meaning in writing stories and poems where there was no mention of the pandemic. Stories that made us laugh and cry and reminded us we were still standing.”

And finally, as it is will all our artists, we asked what she thinks of when she hears the phrase “The Good Life?” 

Her response was touching and very true: “Initially I thought about The Good Life as a collection of simple, sweet moments: Watching my youngest grandson spar with waves at the beach; the warm body of the man I love snuggled next to mine; drinking wine with friends around a fire-pit during the quarantine. Then I reflected on hard moments- like my mother’s death last year. The circumstances were traumatic and tragic, yet in her final hours, there was healing and love. And I thought, it’s all of it. The good life is all of it.”

Laurie is a student of Roxan McDonald’s and she has also studied with Danusha Lameris, Ellen Bass and most recently Pam Houston. Her work has appeared in Literary Mama and more recently in Prometheus Dreaming. She is currently working on a collection of creative nonfiction essays.

Thanks, Laurie, for being a part of our 5th issue and for participating in this Q & A!

Cheers,
~The Good Life Review Team

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interviews

Author Q & A with Kara Davidson

Author Q & A with Kara Davidson

December 30, 2021

This week’s Author Q&A is with Kara Davidson. Kara is an actor, playwright, and teaching artist currently pursuing her MFA in Writing for Stage and Screen at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her script, “The Farewell Burn,” won the 2021 Honey Bee Literature Prize in script writing and was published in our 5th issue of The Good Life Review.

Kara elected to answer a number of our questions however, in order to put priority on this time-sensitive answer, we’re stepping out of the typical flow to highlight the 10-episode serial audio play she wrote that is available for free only through December 31st. It was inspired by Bram Stoker’s classic Dracula and features a beautiful original score by Kevin O’Donnell. To listen please visit https://www.thehousetheatre.com/dracula.

We asked Kara what fuels her desire to write.

Her response: What fuels my desire to write is the possibility that my work will feel familiar to someone else, and how it could help them illuminate something touching or true about their own life, their relationships, or their journey. Providing a vehicle through which someone can process previously intangible or inaccessible emotions is a very meaningful gift to be able to give someone.

We also asked Kara how she knows when a piece of writing is finished.

Her response: “I don’t ever think of my writing as “finished”. It’s more of a snapshot of who I was in a specific time/place/moment of my life. And it’s possible that I might return to a piece, again and again, to morph it into something new or different. I also feel this way because I write for the theatre, which is such a team sport. Knowing that actors will inhabit my words, a director will infuse their own experiences into shaping the piece, and designers will make my fabricated world tangible — it’s incredibly exciting to think of my piece as an unfinished part of the puzzle.”

Circling back to her winning script in the latest issue, we asked Kara to tell us some unique or surprising detail about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of that script. 

Her response: This piece was inspired by an essay written by Brian Phillips which is included in his book, Impossible Owls. I was killing time at a bookstore and made a random grab at the shelves and developed an immediate crush on his writing/reportage style. I live for these moments when art inspires art — it makes me feel like artists of all mediums are cosmically and intrinsically connected, nourished by breathing each others’ air back and forth. It’s very intimate.

And finally, as it is will all our artists, we asked what she thinks of when she hears the phrase “The Good Life?” 

She summed this up nicely by responding: “Alignment. With self, nature, and community.”

Kara has previously worked with Manual Cinema, The House Theatre of Chicago, Lookingglass Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, ABLE Ensemble, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Nebraska Repertory Theatre, and Flatwater Shakespeare, among others. She is a co-founder and director of a monthly virtual workshop called The Lab which aids in developing new works-in-progress by artists from all across the country (www.thelab.blog).


Thanks, Kara, for being a part of our 5th issue and for participating in this Q & A!

Cheers,
~The Good Life Review Team

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interviews

Author Q & A with Adam Graham

Author Q & A with Adam Graham

December 16, 2021

This week’s Author Q&A is with Adam Graham. Adam is a writer and artist based in Asheville, North Carolina. His work is rooted in the complexities and dynamics of relationships and explores issues of social class, identity, and the role language plays as both a force of connectivity and a force of disintegration. His flash fiction story “On Art, Authority, and Crows: A Modern Fable” appears in our latest issue of The Good Life Review.

We asked Adam to tell us some unique or surprising detail about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of his story. 

His Response: “My process of writing is very much influenced by the cut-up techniques of the Dadaist. I begin each story by randomly selecting a smattering of texts and typing them into my document in no particular order. These random texts may be a sentence from a car insurance magazine, a phrase from an old song, the small print from a medicine commercial, that sort of thing. These segments of text, and the ideas they envelop, act as a series of sequential destinations my emerging story travels through as I write from one text to the next. This process demands a very open flow, in which free association between ideas is paramount.

“At the end of the process, I extract the originating found texts, and what remains are bizarre little tinkering literary machines that buzz across a table-top for a few minutes. Because of the extraction of the originating texts, there are “gaps” in my stories, openings built into the very foundations of the stories, missing places in the boundary the delineates the story at its very core. These openings in the story allow things to drift in and out, to cross the border of the story, it opens up the circuitry of the literary machines. 

“The found texts I used for the current story, On Art, Authority, and Crows: A Modern Fable, come from the Time-Life Library of Art, a series of biographies of various artists in history. The set of twenty-eight books was published in the 1960s.”

The other question that Adam elected to answer is what he thinks of when he hears the phrase “The Good Life?” 

Adam’s Response: “To me, the “good life” consists of artistic experimentation, of having the courage to think dangerously, of making time to build new concepts in one’s own head, and then to bring these new ideas into the world via the written word, maybe in the form of a short story, or maybe a poem, or maybe even a single sentence smudged on the bathroom mirror.  I find I feel most alive when a new idea is wriggling through my mind, slowly taking form as the flotsam and jetsam of thoughts, experience, random bits of psychological association stick to the bourgeoning form crawling out of my head.”


Thanks, Adam, for being a part of our autumn issue and for participating in this Q & A!

Cheers,
~The Good Life Review Team

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interviews

Author Q & A with Christi Krug

Author Q & A with Christi Krug

December 8, 2021

This week’s Author Q&A is with Christi Krug. Christi has been a community educator in Vancouver, Washington since 1997 and she is also and a creativity and mindfulness coach. Her piece appearing in this issue of The Good Life Review is a nonfiction essay titled “The Coats in Summer People.” 

We asked Christi to tell us some unique or surprising detail about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of her essay. 

Her Response: “I was working as a human resources temp many years ago, chatting with a co-worker about my new pursuit of hiking. She was a hiker too, but there was one situation that had given her pause. It was a hot day in July and a man in a thick down jacket came down the trail and she felt unsafe. “Anyone who wears a coat like that in summer – you just know there’s something wrong,” she said. Until she spoke those words aloud, I had never realized how awkward and embarrassed and sad I felt about the clothing choices of my mother and brother. The remark stayed in my mind until a couple of years ago when I used it for what I call “wildwriting” – writing all my thoughts fast. Leafing through my notebook earlier this year, I liked the piece and decided to revise and submit it.”

We then asked what she learned (about herself or craft or the world) through writing and revising the essay?

Her Response: “Writing this piece, I learned that the younger me, still in there somewhere, feels a lot of shame and confusion about my early years with a mentally ill family. There is also a great deal of guilt that I didn’t develop their diagnosis and a longing for their recovery. And under all those layers is my love for my biological mother, who is no longer alive, and for my sensitive, smart, older brother.”

And finally, we asked Christi if she has any exciting projects she’s working on or something she’d like to promote. She let us know that she frequently facilitates 20 minute “wildwriting” sessions via zoom audio Zoom (no screens) and participants follow intriguing prompts in order to make all kinds of discoveries on the page. She has several lined up for December and anyone interested in attending should reach out to her via her website www.christikrug.com.

In addition, in January she will be facilitating “Wildfire Writing,” which she’s been teaching for 23 years. The class shares the practice that has helped her write with confidence while processing her life stories, harvesting their beauty. It is a distance-learning class available through Clark College and anyone interested can learn more or signup here.

Christi’s poetry and prose have appeared in everything from religious magazines to horror anthologies to comic zines. Her latest stories appear in Griffel, Nightingale & Sparrow, Montana Mouthful, and Luna Station Quarterly. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and recently served as writer-in-residence at North Cascades Institute. Christi is the author of Burn Wild: A Writer’s Guide to Creative Breakthrough. If you want to get in touch www.christikrug.com


Thanks, Christi, for being a part of our 5th issue and for participating in this Q & A!

Cheers,
~The Good Life Review Team

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interviews

Author Q & A with Brian Yapko

Author Q & A with Brian Yapko

November 23, 2021

This week’s Q & A is with Brian Yapko. Brian is a lawyer who lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his husband, Jerry, and their canine child, Bianca. His piece appearing in the Autumn 2021 issue of The Good Life Review is a poem titled “Truth at the Delicatessen.” 

We asked Brian to tell us some unique or surprising detail about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of his poem. 

His Response: “Truth at the Delicatessen” springs from my experiences in the 1990s working as a pro bono lawyer for gay men. I had the unbelievably sad task of writing up wills for men in their 20s and 30s who had contracted AIDS and were dying. For many of these men the worst thing they had to do was tell their parents and families. Those were terrible days which have never quite left me. 

Expanding on that thought with the next question regarding what writing the poem taught him about himself or craft or life in general he wrote: Through writing this poem I felt I was able to honor a number of young men who never saw 40 but who accepted their fates with courage and even a touch of gallows humor. 

We also asked Brian what fuels his desire to write.

His response: I must have a voice! As someone who has practiced law for many years I have a long history of trying to be persuasive. When it comes to poetry and stories I get to persuade people – not to vote guilty or innocent – but to look at a situation or idea or person in a new way. Helping people consider things from another angle – including myself – is hugely satisfying. That’s how compassion is born.

And finally, one of the questions we asked all contributors to respond to is what they think of when they hear the phrase “The Good Life?” 

Brian’s Response: “The Good Life” to me means being content in who I am, who I’m with and what I do. I’m not concerned about wealth or property or power or prestige. I’m talking about having the best husband I could have ever hoped for. I’m talking about a canine child named Bianca who we rescued and who, in turn, rescued us. Health. Friends, I am beyond grateful for what I have in my life. When I think of “The Good Life” I think how fortunate I am that this is precisely what I have. 

Brian’s poems have appeared in many literary journals and publications including Tofu Ink, Sparks of Calliope, KAIROS, Gyroscope Review, Penumbra, the Society of Classical Poets, Grand Little Things, Chained Muse, and elsewhere. His first novel – El Nuevo Mundo – is going to be published by Rebel Satori Press in the Summer of 2022. It is a gay themed science fiction story with an apocalyptic background which takes place in his home town of Santa Fe, New Mexico in the year 2062. 


Thanks, Brian, for being a part of our 5th issue and for participating in this Q & A!

Cheers,
~The Good Life Review Team