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Throwback Thursday: Halloween (Part Two)

This week, a new round of authors are sharing their favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costumes, as well as their favorite candy. Read on to reminisce with our authors. Happy Halloween!

Kim Dower

Kim Dower

What has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costume?

My most embarrassing costume was when I dressed as a French Maid and wore underwear on my head in the hopes it would resemble a French Maid’s “cap.” Sadly, it resembled underwear, so you can imagine what a fun party that was!

My favorite costume was a wedding dress – a real wedding dress — as I got married on Halloween.  But, when I put it on that day, and walked over to the park in Santa Barbara where we were married, it felt like I was wearing a costume since everyone else was dressed up for Halloween.  It was very confusing.


Here’s 9-year-old Kim in the early 60′s dressed as a Beatnik poet for Halloween!

Bongo Kim

 What is your favorite candy?

My favorite candy bar has always been Snickers.  Can’t beat the caramel, peanuts and chocolate.  But than they came up with a dark chocolate Snickers with almonds and suddenly everything changed.


William Trowbridge

William Trowbridge

What has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costume?

Clown, of course.

What was your favorite candy?

Heath bars.



Celeste Gainey


What has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costume?

My favorite Halloween costume was a red devil. Wearing that one, I found I could get away with a lot!




Here’s 3-year old Celeste dressed as a black cat!


What was your favorite candy?

My favorite candy bar as a child was 3 Musketeers. I was the youngest in our family and sometimes rode with my Dad when he took my brother and sister to school. On the way back––at 8am, mind you, we often stopped at our neighborhood market and he would buy two, one for each of us. We’d eat them on the spot. It was our secret––we never told my mother.

I grew up in Santa Barbara and on Halloween my mother would drive us to a couple of big estates in town that were known for their extravagant Halloween booty. At one, the Bryce estate, a maid would answer the door and usher us into a Hearst Castle-type dining room with a huge oval table and dozens of European chocolate bars artfully fanned across its surface according to brand and distinction. She would tell us to “take one of each!”

Karen Shoemaker

Karen Shoemaker

What has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costume?

I’m such a poor kid cliche. I wore the same costume every year: hand-me-downs from my brothers and some black soot-like stuff rubbed onto my face and hands. If anyone asked I said I was a hobo, but in truth I was just a kid with a grocery sack willing to walk for miles for candy. No cameras were fetched to record how cute I was.

When my kids started trick or treating I made up for the “poverty” of my youth by sewing uncomfortable but festive costumes and applying elaborate make-up on their delicate skin. Grown now, they have both declined the publishing rights that would allow me to send photos of them as witches and werewolves, jesters, clowns, zombies, angels, dinosaurs, Harry Potter characters, and lord only knows what else, but I’m telling you, they were super cute.  They’ve more or less forgiven me for the ordeals I put them through.

Ellen Meeropol

Ellen Meeropol

What has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costume?

When i was growing up, Halloween costumes were pretty ho-hum. I remember cowboy hats and ghostish sheets that tripped me and were quickly discarded. My costume-creating juices didn’t flow until my daughters were of trick-or-treat age; that’s when the fun started. For them, there was the Hershey bar sandwich board, with contents carefully painted with silver ink; the green corduroy pickle costume, sprinkled liberally with garlicky brine; the Rubick’s cube from a large grocery store carton. Best of all was the Ann Boleyn costume I made for myself. I walked around carrying a severed plaster head singing “With her head tucked underneath her arm.”


What was your favorite candy?

Chocolate. Any chocolate. Only chocolate.

Leia Penina Wilson

Leia Penina Wilson

What has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costume?

I never really dressed up for Halloween until I moved to Alabama. That has to be the most unexciting answer to this question! Ha. The picture below is from last year I think. Look how cute my friends are. I like to go as myself for Halloween. Sometimes I wear a mask (I collect masks), but I don’t really like pretending to be something or someone else. I think that makes me old. When I was younger, my mom didn’t let us go out on Halloween. She thought it encouraged hoodlum-ism. When you think about it, sending children out into the night to randomly knock on a stranger’s door for candy doesn’t sound safe. Right? I did plenty of pretending when I was younger though. My brother and sister and I used to pretend we were Skeletor, the Red Ranger (red ranger?), and the Joker. This explains so much about our personalities! My brother was the Ranger, my sister the Joker. I was always Skeletor. There was something comic and menacing about him that appealed to me. All he wanted was to rule all of Eternia, I sympathized. He had a throne. A giant staff that doubled both as a symbol or power and as a weapon. I wanted that staff. He liked the color purple. Purple is my favorite color. He had a giant purple cat. Who doesn’t want a giant purple cat?



What was your favorite candy?

I love sweet treats. Almond joy! Coconut and chocolate are my favorite. I have fond memories of Zero, the candy bar. I like Kit Kat’s cold. I keep mine in the freezer. I also like Twix. Crunch! That was my favorite name. Whatchamacallit’s are also yummy, it’s my mom’s favorite. She used to bring candy bars with her home about every night so we could take them to school for lunch the next day (or breakfast). I’ve had a lot of candy bars. She sent me with a Baby Ruth for the drive to Vegas.

Louise Wareham Leonard

What  has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costume?

The only time I planned a costume for Halloween, I bought fatigues and army boots , and planned to go as Sigourney Weaver in Alien.



Gregory Donovan

Donovan, Gregory author 1 (480 DPI)What has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costume?

My favorite costume may have been the year that I dressed up as Leopold Bloom–although woefully few people at the party I attended had any idea who that character might be, even after I attempted to explain myself, as they had never read Ulysses–or anything else by James Joyce. But I enjoyed my own witty getup as a Jewish Catholic wearing a yarmulke (I couldn’t find a bowler hat)  and a prayer shawl with a rosary strung around my neck and carrying around, not a Bible, but a venerable hardbound copy (in red cover) of Ulysses itself. I told everyone this was the Nighttown episode and I was a hallucination. No one believed me.
The rest of the time–and entirely too often–I dress up as a pirate, something that comes naturally, and perhaps as something of an inescapable necessity, for a person with a beard, as that sartorial manifestation tends to limit one’s options. One year I felt particularly authentic as I was wearing a sling on my left arm after a spectacular bicycling accident resulted in my permanently relocated shoulder, and so I had a handy “scabbard” for my sword.
Pirate Donovan
What was your favorite candy?
There is very little candy that I don’t like, and so most varieties are therefore on my Forbidden Foods list–but on Halloween I sometimes like to engage in throwback activities and so, if they’re available, I might go after some candy corn (nearly like eating sweetened plastic) or even grab a few of the horrible yet strangely attractive and oddly colored circus peanuts.

Feel Good Friday!

We’re launching the first of our Feel Good Friday series! At the end of every week, we’ll post some things that caught the eyes of the Red Hen staff – inspirational stories, things that made us laugh, or things we’re looking forward to this weekend. We want to end the week on a good note and kick off the weekend right.


 A Blind Man Put A Sign Up In A Local Bookstore. The Response Has Been Incredible

Humble Delivery Man Becomes Reluctant Hero After Dramatic Fire Rescue

Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis: Brad Pitt

BJ Novak reads from and signs Book With No Pictures at Vroman’s

This 5 Year-Old with Autism is Shocking the World with Her Paintings


Check back next Friday for more Feel Good Friday stories!

Throwback Thursday: Halloween

With Halloween just around the corner, we thought we would go down memory lane with our authors to get to know them a little better. Read on to find out about their fun, and embarrassing, Halloween costumes, their favorite treat to satisfy their sweet tooth, and how they celebrated the holiday!

Erin Hollowell 

Erin  Coughlin Hollowell

What has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween Costume?

A homemade fox outfit from maybe seventh or eighth grade. Poor Home Economics skills coupled with a complete lack of social awareness contributed to an outfit that consisted of two fuzzy ears glued to a headband, a reddish/brown leotard, and a hand-sewn tail that looked more like a turd than a tail. Luckily there are no pictures of this debacle and I prefer to maintain the illusion that it wasn’t as big a failure as my friends told me it was in the girl’s room at the Halloween dance.

What is your favorite candy?

Black licorice. Preferably soft black licorice that really ought to be eaten in the privacy of one’s own home for purely aesthetic dental reasons. Also a guilty candy pleasure from off the beaten path – Diamond Zout Licorice – salted black licorice from Holland.


Andrea Scarpino 

Andrea Scarpino

What has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costume? 

My favorite Halloween costume of all time is a banana. My mother bought me a rubber mask that was banana shaped, and I wore a yellow pleated skirt and yellow sweater, and sprayed my hair yellow, and with the leftover hair coloring, sprayed my gray poodle yellow so that he could Trick-or-Treat with me as Old Yeller. We were a vision in yellow. Unfortunately, I don’t have photographic evidence. But I do have a photo from my second ever favorite Halloween, which was the first time my niece Trick-or-Treated. She moved to the US from Korea where Halloween isn’t celebrated, and when I showed up at her door to Trick-or-Treat with her wearing a bright pink wig and sunglasses, she was, well, surprised. To say the least.


Michael Mirolla

Michael Mirolla, Relationship Dyads Author Photo (600 dpi)

What has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costume? Favorite candy?

Actually, coming from an Italian household, we never really had the opportunity as young kids to costume ourselves and go out for classic trick or treating (not really a big European festival). Later, in the teen interval period, we would sneak out with a grocery bag and canvass some of the homes on our street. But we always keep a bowl of treats (peanuts, apples, hard candies) for those who were into celebrating All Hallow’s Eve.

One thing: the candy bars never made it to the treats bowl. Especially if they were Oh Henry! or Aero bars!



Paul Cummins

Paul Cummins

What has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costume?

In my former capacity as headmaster at  Crossroads School in Santa Monica, there were many spoofs. Here my staff dressed me up, though I’m not sure I know what I’m meant to be…!


Displaying photo.JPG

What is your favorite candy?

Reese’s Pieces


Dennis Must

Dennis Must

What has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costume?

Having grown up in the 1930s and 1940s, it was the Halloween custom in our mill town neighborhoods to buy an inexpensive mask from the corner store and borrow a pillow case from the house to hold the candy. That was the extent of one’s costume. The masks were often comic strip or storybook characters. Popeye and Pinocchio were favorites.

Here are a couple stock photographs illustrating the extent of a youngster’s dressing up for Halloween night during those early years.

What is your favorite candy?

Then it was Sugar Babies.

Check back next Thursday for more #tbt Halloween stories and pictures from our authors!

Ron Koertge Featured on The Writer’s Almanac

9781597095440An excerpt from Ron Koertge’s Sex World was featured on The Writer’s Almanac yesterday. Take a look at his feature here. Congrats, Ron!

Katharine Coles wins a Utah Book Award!

Katherine Coles, Author, Poet







Congratulations to Red Hen author Katharine Coles! Katharine’s poetry collection, The Earth Is Not Flat, won the poetry prize in the Utah Book Awards, awards given by the Utah Humanities Council to honor exceptional achievements by Utah writers and to recognize outstanding literature written with a Utah theme or setting. To view a list of the winners, click here.

Congratulations again on the success, Katharine!

A Little Bird Told Me: Summer Updates from Leia Penina Wilson

Rumor has it poet  Leia Penina Wilson has been pretty busy playing Magic the Gathering this summer, but she recently took a few moments to reflect on her upcoming collection, i built a boat with all the towels in your closet (and will let you drown), available October 7th. We’re lucky she shared some wonderful responses to help pass the time! Take a look at Leia’s full interview for more on the inspirations and distractions in her life, a well-rounded list of her phobias, and the qualities in a poem she finds deserving of a toast.

Leia Wilson_cropped1. Who is the person in your life that inspires you the most?
My mom inspires me the most. I don’t know anybody who works as hard as she does. It’s crazy how much she has worked, how much she does work, for us. The only thing she’s ever asked of us is that we go to school; she’s sacrificed a lot so we could have an education. She’s raised us by herself, and that’s been so hard on her. Four children as a single mom is always difficult. There was a lot of struggle, a lot of uncertainty. I probably wouldn’t be alive without her though.

2. How did your title originate? Did you consider other titles for the book?
I considered a lot of titles for this book. I always keep a running list of lines or phrases or sometimes just one word (or feeling) that might turn itself into a good title as I’m working on a project. It takes me a long time to come to a title I like. It’s a bit crazy how important titles really are, isn’t it? It’s intimidating too, choosing a phrase that captures the whole of it. I rearrange quite a bit. This title came from one of those rearrangements. I think it was originally a line from one of the meatier poems in the book. If I can’t decide, I often ask my friends to vote on which line they like best.

3. Your biggest distraction from writing
I play an awesome card game called Magic the Gathering. It’s my biggest distraction from everything. I love it though. I just built a Sigarda, Host of Herons commander deck, very poet-y of me. My favorite commander general is still Olivia Voldaren, only the best vampire ever.

4. Do you have any irrational (or rational) phobias?
Oh yes, I have a ton of phobias. Most of them irrational—I want to live forever or die quickly; I don’t want to feel myself dying (that scares the shit out of me). Snakes. Lizards (except dinosaurs, which are awesome). Insects (except butterflies and praying mantis’). I just watched my sister give birth to a baby—so pregnancy. That’s frightening, being responsible for another human. Not for me, but I adore other animals though, dogs and cats and all variety of furry creature. It’s strange, I don’t like the dark much, but I adore things that glow in the dark. Ha, that makes that particular fear kind of fun. I love neon & strobe lights also. Christmas lights! I love movie theaters, watching movies in theaters. I don’t like crowds. Too many people are overwhelming for me. I’m not sure if you’d call that a phobia though. I’m continually afraid of disappointing my mom. I don’t go on carnival wheels because I’m always afraid they’ll collapse or stop when I’m at the very top. I’m not afraid of heights, but I don’t like the uncertainty of being stuck. I’m a little afraid of uncertainty, so I make all my decisions quickly and assuredly. No time for regret! I have a tiny phobia of clowns. I don’t like loud, happy men. The colorful makeup and smile freaks me out. I close my eyes 98% of the time when watching horror movies. I don’t mind the blood, but the suspense is scary, I don’t like the violence of them. I’m afraid of getting lost, so I take the same route even if there’s a more efficient way to get somewhere.

5. If you could go on a date with any fictional character who would it be and why? Describe the date.
Sailor Uranus or Neptune, I have a difficult time choosing which one is hotter. I thought I could grow up into them when I was younger. I never wanted to date her, but I wanted so badly to be Queen Beryl. I like dates that involved ice cream cones with sprinkles. I really like dessert.

6. Please provide our blog readers with a summer reading recommendation
I’ve just moved to Las Vegas, so my summer reading is a bit scattered. I just finished reading Eric LeMay’s On Nothing, which is the perfect summer book. It’s weird thinking about the unnamed and named when moving to a city that’s all about sprawl and excess. The whole city feels nameless to me; everything is about sensation and experience. I love it. Maybe I’ll feel different after a few months. I’m not sure. I just read the new issue of Saga. It’s a comic book series by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples. It’s pimp, if you haven’t read it I highly recommend it. Next on my summer list is Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Bird, Snow: A Novel. It’s a lyrical retelling of Snow White, and I’m so excited to read it!

7. What was your favorite/ least favorite thing about writing this book?
That’s a hard question. I always get frustrated at ordering poems, at having to come up with poems that transition nicely into other poems. Most of my poems feel very final to me; they stand on their own and don’t need other poems for support. Or they don’t want them. So having to think of what poem came after each poem, and how that would affect/effect the reading experience annoyed me. That’s why I like a lot of space on the page of my poetry, why I like section breaks so much. My favorite thing is just simply writing the poems, that moment when the poem works or clicks or is final or whatever you want to call it is my favorite moment. It’s like finishing a really great drink—you’re a little buzzed from it but you want another. Cheers!

8. What’s one talent you wish you naturally possessed?
That’s a hard question too. I’m kind of awesome.

9. What is it about poetry that speaks to you?
The poetry I tend to gravitate towards and write is about fragments, pieces of stuff, broken lines, and empty space. The world is kind of fucked up, and I think poetry should reflect that broken-up-ness, that dissonance. I like that with poetry there’s a lot of room to play and manipulate language and sound. I like layering, scattering, weaving. The piece-ness of poetry speaks to me. Poetry reflects memory in that way. I think poetry reflects the tangibility, the temporality of experience accurately, or it can, so I like to see what I can do with that. I like verbing and accretion in poetry. Like a Katamari game you play forever, stuff accrues, gets stuck, shit gets lost, forgotten, smushed and transformed. Poetry provides a way to arrange, rearrange, and play for me. I like characters in poetry, I like fucking them up, in having them survive/witness/reflect.



Leia Penina Wilson is an MFA candidate in prose at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. When she’s not reading or writing, she spends her time baking tiny cakes and cookies. When she’s not baking, she plays Magic: The Gathering and cuddles with her boyfriend on the couch. She is the nonfiction editor for The Black Warrior Review. Her work can be found in, or is forthcoming from, Diagram, Alice Blue Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Chariton Review, NAP, and others. She is originally from St. Joseph, Missouri. Her first book, i built a boat with all the towels in your closet (and will let you drown), won the A Room of Her Own Foundation’s To the Lighthouse Poetry Publication Prize, selected by Evie Shockley.  It is available now for pre-order from Red Hen Press. The collection will be released October 7th.

Cynthia Hogue Featured in The New York Times Sunday Book Review

Cynthia Hogue

Craig Morgan Teicher, editor at Publisher’s Weekly and author of the poetry collection “To Keep Love Blurry,” wrote a Sunday Book Review for The New York Times featuring Cynthia Hogue’s Revenance, as well as the works of Simone Muench, Fanny Howe, and J.D. McClatchy. Read Teicher’s take on Hogue’s collection of poetry below:

“Hogue’s mind is projective more than receptive, well suited to the kind of visual art that requires viewers to reach out with their imaginations and wrap it in words, thoughts, equivalences. Hogue’s particular wit and intensity relay not merely the appearance of art, but the experience of it, ‘its complication of what is.’”

Read the full post, along with the reviews for the other featured poets, here.

A Little Bird Told Me: Summer Updates from America Hart

With just a few writers to go, our sneak peek at Red Hen’s fall titles continues with London-based author,  America Hart, whose upcoming novel, into the silence: the fishing story is available September 23rd. In the interview below, America discusses her take on genre and punctuation, as well as  her inspirations, both literary and musical. Keep reading for her thoughts on what makes a book memorable and more!


1. Did you learn anything new or surprising, or adopt new interests while working on into the silence: the fishing story?

I became interested in women composers and women musicians generally. I didn’t plan to write a novel about a girl who becomes a music composer, but early in the novel Natalia is walking home from school carrying a violin. And when I wrote that, I realized she would be a music composer.

As a pianist, I already had quite a lot of knowledge about music. Or so I thought. But as I wrote the novel it became more and more apparent to me how male dominated the field of music composition and production actually is.

I became especially interested in finding out more about women musicians and composers, from Nina Simone to Clara Schumann to Germaine Tailleferre. And I also became interested in artists like Camille Claudel, Leonora Carrington, Frida Kahlo, Vanessa Woolf, and other women sculptors and painters. I read biographies, articles – whatever I could get my hands on – and one artist often led me to another. So I was on sort of a trail of discovery the whole time I was working on the novel.

2. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, which artists or what kind?

I know it is a cliché, but I’ll say it: I write in cafes and always have. My initial drafts I write by hand. And I prefer cafes that play music that I like, as I tend to become absorbed in the music and that seems to inspire my writing. I’ve just completed a two-volume novel that is a slave history/narrative, Waiting in the Rain: The Blood Notebook. And when I started drafting it, I happened to be in a café where they played Nina Simone just about every day, and they always played “Strange Fruit.” The music of Nina Simone played into the story itself; the lyrics and melancholy of the song are incorporated into my novel.

When I wrote into the silence, I was listening to music all the time, and as I became interested in more composers, I listened to more music. Some of the music I listened to most often: John Coltrane, Nat King Cole, Samuel Barber, Nina Simone, Chopin’s ballades and etudes for piano, and all manner of reggae and hip-hop. Often I just listened to radio. So my interests in music have always been very eclectic – and are always expanding. In other words: I always listen to music while I write!

3. What was your favorite thing about writing this book?

I actually really love to write, and I think for the most part I was happy just about any time I sat down to write or revise this novel.

4. Can you imagine exploring the content of into the silence in any other genre?

I think it’s safe to say that I probably missed the whole “genre” boat, and have just blended genres generally when I write. In fact, I think I blend music, poetry, and fiction in this novel. I had two ideas when I was writing into the silence: One was to write something like a snowflake, to create a story that was as beautiful and complex in its own way. And the other was to write a novel like music, maybe a fugue … or something like John Coltrane’s rendition of My Favorite Things. I’m fascinated with the repetition of themes in music, and especially with music that has a simple motif that is repeated over and over again, and made more complex or changed as the music goes along. Also I’m interested in African drumming, for the same reason.

5. Favorite and/or least favorite punctuation marks

I generally take a lot of liberties with punctuation, as readers can see with into the silence. I started writing the novel with no idea that it would be a novel – I hadn’t planned anything. I just began writing and assumed it was a short story, but then the next day I came back to it again. And the next day. And the next. When I’d written a substantial portion of the novel and went back to revise it, I remember thinking I should “fix” things, that it needed to be straightened up a bit.

And then it became apparent to me that the story has its own sort of logic or pattern. The shifts in time, the use of dashes as a way to connect ideas (rather than using as we say in the UK “the full stop” to separate ideas), and the general abuse of punctuation weren’t consciously planned. And there’s no use of capital letters at all. Not that I have anything against the capital letter.

The story begins in the voice of a child, a girl who feels that she doesn’t have a voice, but who wants to compose music. The appearance of the writing itself I think gives an equalizing effect: The “small things” become as important as the “big things.” Sentences are often constructed in inverse order: “the ring on the hand of a woman …” instead of “a woman wearing a ring …” I remember thinking when I wrote the novel that I was doing a lot of things that we were taught in school not to do. But the “small things” are emphasized through the innovations in language, punctuation, use of lower case, and inversion of the order of words in sentences, and children and nature are given a voice.

6. Do you have a favorite place to go and work on your writing?

These days, I go to Notes Cafe on St. Martin’s Lane, Charring Cross, which is just by Charring Cross Station in central London. This is where all the theatres are, as well as Pineapple Dance Studios, Covent Garden … I love this area. It takes me about half an hour by train from my home, a straight shot, and is on my way to the university where I teach. So I can stop and work on my writing for a few hours before I go to teach. At Notes, I love the atmosphere, the music, the food and the coffee! As for revising, though, I can go anywhere: I read over my manuscripts on trains, boats, planes, at home in bed, in the park … wherever.

7. Please provide our blog readers with one summer reading recommendation.

While writing my new novel Waiting in the Rain: The Blood Notebook, I discovered Marlon James’s The Book of Night Women. It’s a novel that takes place on a plantation in Jamaica and tells the story of women slaves and the planters. In a very complex and interesting way.

A literary agent came as a guest speaker for my MA Creative Writing students and said she thought it a book everyone should read. A student had also recommended it, and although I was teaching horrific hours (long!) and was daunted by the length of the book, I was intrigued. So I started reading the book, and, as they say, I couldn’t put it down.

The voice is very compelling, the characters are complex, the writing style is interesting but accessible, and the plot moves in unexpected ways. The ending is something else! It’s very lyrical, and very moving. So many NY Times bestsellers are so predictable – I get them at airports and read them on my domestic flights – I enjoy them, but I can forget them as soon as I get off the plane. This book is one that is really unforgettable! I could recommend more books, but if I have to choose just one for the moment? This is it!

8. What’s the largest number of times you’ve re-read a single book? What was the book and why did it appeal to you?

To be honest with you, I’m a repeat reader of many books! Bessie Head’s A Question of Power is a book that I read probably seven or eight times when I was writing into the silence. Bessie Head was born in South Africa, a mixed race child when interracial relationships were illegal, and she lived in Botswana most of her adult life.

I actually had started into the silence, was probably in fact about half way through writing it, when I discovered A Question of Power at the bookstore. It sort of affirmed what I was doing – her story is very complicated and it is definitely non-linear! I was fascinated by how complex the writing is, and how unique. Bessie Head still is one of my favorite writers.

I’m also a repeat reader of Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. And I first read Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea when I was nine or ten years old (my mother was in a book group, and I sometimes read what they read). The vocabulary of course is easy! But even at that age I could somehow understand the sadness of the story, and I remember being very moved. I think both Hemingway and Faulkner influenced my writing style from the time I was very young.

9. Is there a passage of into the silence you’re most excited for your audience to read? A passage you’re most nervous about your audience reading?

I hope that I’ll be surprised by what my readers like! I personally like some of the passages about mailboxes, and the delivery of mail. There’s nothing major that happens in these scenes, but to me they express a kind of nostalgia about the mail as it was delivered in the past, and the anticipation of receiving a letter. Also I like the introduction of the character America, and the repeated refrain: “America – where has she gone? Light a candle in the window for her.” Readers can make their own interpretations!

When I was reading the final draft before it went off to press, I noticed (again) some long, winding passages … sort of like the trails the characters take in the mountains. I hope the readers will stick with these passages, in the same way an audience sometimes will wait, anticipating a favorite passage of music in a long piece.

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America Hart directs the MA Creative Writing Program at London Metropolitan University. Born and raised in Colorado, she lived in Boston and New York City before moving to London, where she lives with her partner, Seraphin. Her work has appeared in journals and publications such as Black Ice, Sniper Logic, Blackbox Manifold, Shearsman Magazine, Stride Magazine, and the Journal of African Cultural Studies. Her honors include a Rocky Mountain Women’s Institute Fellowship and the Jovanovich Award from the University of Colorado. She has received research grants to conduct fieldwork in Jamaica, Zimbabwe, and Ghana. into the silence: the fishing story is her first novel. It will be released September 23rd and is available now for pre-order from Red Hen Press.



A Little Bird Told Me: Summer Updates from Ron Carlson

This afternoon, our sneak peak at the upcoming fall titles continues with Ron Carlson, whose new collection, The Blue Box, is available August 19th. Ron’s release date is just under a week away; until then, keep reading to learn a bit about the ways in which The Blue Box transcends genre, how Ron’s work has changed over time, and more!

Carlson bw white border1. Are you a social writer? Who do you trust to read the earliest drafts of your work?

Many times with my fiction I’ll finish a story and then have a colleague or friend read the work and offer nudges left and right, notions for a polish. With the pieces in The Blue Box, I learned to be careful because when I’d read one of them or show something to a friend, the reaction was often an expression I’ve seen many times which seems to say: what was that? Did I hear you correctly? When you get that look printed on someone’s face before you, you’ve got to ask: isn’t that what you were after?  I don’t think I’ve answered your question, except to say it’s been fun putting this book together.

2. Do you have a favorite place to go and work on your writing?

I write mostly in a small room with a big window in a building behind my house, but any place will do.  Best would be the front seat of a parked car with the doors all open and the horizon at thirty miles.

3. Which authors or poets were you reading while working on your upcoming release?

All of my prolific students, new and old—and fiction primarily.

4. Biggest challenge while writing The Blue Box

This book, like Room Service, consists of all sorts of notions, some of which are simply little stories, some attempt to be poems, some are parodies, some confounding observations, some are outcries, some are those things an old teacher would write in the back of his notebook late in the day; the challenge I suppose was to select those pieces that, while defying categories, still had some staying power.  It’s so different than writing stories or novels; these are sparks that fly off the wheel. Plus, dare I say, they were fun, many of them. I was playing around and made connections.  Regardless, I’m happy to have all of these odd notes in a single volume.

5. How has your work changed over time?

I’ve tried to get out of the way and let the story or piece have its way.

6. Please provide our blog readers with one summer reading recommendation

A book that deserves the rest of August: The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, a novel by Bob Shacochis.

7. If you could do a reading at any bookstore or venue in the world, where would you choose to read? 

The Commercial Club, Main Street (Hwy.40) in Duchesne, Utah; a big airy beer bar that hasn’t been there for twenty five years.

8. Is there anything you would like to tell your readers about your book before they pick it up this fall?

I’m happy to meet you!


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Ron Carlson is the author of five story collections and six novels, including Return to Oakpine and The Signal. His fiction has appeared in Harper’sThe New YorkerPlayboyGQBest American Short Stories, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. His book of poems, Room Service: Poems, Meditations, Outcries, & Remarks, was published by Red Hen Press in 2012. His book on writing, Ron Carlson Writes a Story, is taught widely. He is the director of the writing program at the University of California at Irvine and lives in Huntington Beach, California.

The Blue Box is available now for pre-order from Red Hen Press. It will be released August 19th.

Verónica Reyes Wins a Golden Crown Literary Award!

Veronica Reyes







Congratulations to Red Hen author Verónica Reyes! Verónica’s poetry collection Chopper! Chopper! won the top poetry prize of the Golden Crown Literary Awards, awards given by the Golden Crown Literary Society to honor outstanding lesbian literature. To view a list of all 2014 Golden Crown Literary Award Winners, click here.

Congratulations again on the great success, Verónica!