Monthly Archives: July 2013

Interview with Sandy Hiortdahl

Today’s interview is with Issue 4’s poetry contest winner, Sandy Hiortdahl, who contributed “August Vortex” to this issue. She also called me “the coolest person ever,” but don’t worry,  I assure you her poetry is much better than her judgement of coolness.
joker in hat

Describe your work in 25 words or less.

My writing is a weird reflection of the way my mind combines thought with metaphor, characters, and imagery; I often don’t know where it’s going.

Tell me about your poem “August Vortex.”

We were having one of those terribly hot Maryland summers and the weathermen were so rational even as they were clearly excited by the coming new heat wave. I wondered what it’d be like if they used vivid, poetic language and metaphors to say what they really felt. The poem then combined with me missing someone and trying to express to him how much.

How does it feel to win the contest? Is it your first time?

I am overjoyed to have won Bop Dead City’s contest. I’ve admired the journal very much. Though I’ve won prizes for prose, I feel quite vulnerable with my poetry and this was my first poetry prize, ever. Thank you!

Where did you hear about the contest?

I was cruising BDC’s website like I do when I saw the notice. Then I saw it again on Duotrope.

What or who inspires you to write?

The inspiration for me seems to come from strange moments in time or a turn of phrase, what normal people would call trivial. Sometimes I don’t even know I’ve been inspired. A friend will read my work and say, “Oh, that one’s from the incident at the zoo, when we saw the sloth…” and only then can I see it. My mind mixes things like one of those paint machines at the hardware store so that I don’t even see it myself.

What authors have influenced you as a writer?

I’m a John Gardner fan from way back. His scenes and characters become real in my mind like no one else’s, even when they’re as fantastical as Grendel. I admire his dedication to scholarship and teaching as well, and I’ve teied to live up to his high ideals. I also enjoy James Joyce and Flannery O’Connor a great deal. As for poets, I adore Wallace Stevems and Billy Collins. I guess I’d say that the shared characteristic is that none of them take themselves too seriously while at the same time being completely dedicated to the craft.

Do you have a blog/website?

I do. I have no spacial/artistic skills at all. My good friend, the illustrator Howard Dale, looked at my attempt at creating my own website and said, in his sweet, Southern way, “How about you let me have a go at that for you, Sandy?”

www.sandyhiortdahl.com

What are you working on right now?

I’m struggling through the middle of a novel I’ve been fighting with for a couple of years; I’ve written the beginning and much of the end but the middle is a mess. It’s a literary mystery novel set on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and includes Blackbeard. I hope to finish it by October.

Any advice for other writers?

Most writers suffer daily from a lack of confidence and the best lesson I’ve learned in life is to leap over all of that–just leap over it and get back to the work and let the work run itself, separately from the ego. Read Gardner’s On Becoming a Novelist: it’s warm, wonderful, good advice.

Anything else you’d like to say?

I’d like to thank you for this opportunity and the work you must do, day in and day out, to keep the journal going. Journals like BDC are the lifeblood of the profession, in my opinion.

Advertisements

Interview with Brianne Kohl

Our first interview for this issue comes from Brianne Kohl, who won our latest fiction contest with her story “Her Feminine Circumstance.”

Image

Describe your work in 25 words or less.

Typically dark, although unintentionally. I try to be honest and let the story speak for itself. My brain has a lot of shadows, I suppose.

 

Tell me about your story “Her Feminine Circumstance.”

Well, it started from a four paragraph writing prompt which is really challenging. I do like writing flash fiction but holding yourself to a strict length means you can only use essential words to tell the story. Only the barest of bones. It forces you to trust the reader – they will get it without you over explaining (which is something I have a tendency to do. In my first drafts, I tend to panic at the end and explain everything like an episode of Scoobie Doo. So, I almost always cut out my last paragraph in revision). In this case, I wanted to explore the connection between the power of femininity and nature.

 

How does it feel to win the contest? Is it your first time?

This is my first time! And, it feels amazing! I’ve been a writer for a long time but I’ve really just started submitting my work a few months ago. Sharing my writing is a brand new experience for me. I get a ton of rejections and I’ve had some successes (like this one) that have really pumped me up.

 

Where did you hear about the contest?

I learned of your contest through Duotrope’s email newsletter – Upcoming Themed Deadlines section. I like themes because I’m always looking for some writing prompt that gets me excited. I recommend www.duotrope.com to any writer interested in submitting their work for publication.

 

What or who inspires you to write?

I take a lot of inspiration from nature and really try to focus on the cultural ecology of a story. Sometimes, a word or phrase will ping in my head and I’ll want to explore it. I try not to focus too much on plot because I’ll overwhelm myself so I’ll think of a situation and write my way out of it. Nothing is more inspiring than knowing when a story comes together and its tight and clean.

 

What authors have influenced you as a writer?

So many – Reading Joyce Carol Oates’s “Black Water” was the first time I realized how powerful fiction could be. I love Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Margaret Atwood, Gillian Flynn and Jeffrey Euginedes. I love Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte. I really admire funny writers like Christopher Moore and Jasper Fforde. I’m sort of all over the place with my reading.

 

Do you have a blog/website?

Why, yes!

Yes, I do! www.briannekohl.com

Please come visit me!

 

What are you working on right now?

I’m in a fabulous writing class so I have weekly assignments which really keep me hopping. But, I love it because if I were left to my own devices, I’d tinker until it broke. Getting feedback and being in a workshop with other writers that are really good keeps me inspired. Having a deadline keeps me motivated. And, the more I write, the better I feel I am at it.

 

Any advice for other writers?

Be serious about it, if it is something you really love to do. But, don’t take yourself too seriously. Readers want to read so have some faith. Being a writer and submitting your work can feel like a thankless job, sometimes. Rejections hurt (Seven rejections in a row will make you want to only wear black and talk about your feelings with EVERYONE. Three in one day? Straight to bed. Trust me on that). But, the only way to get better is to keep doing it. You will eventually gain some traction and when that happens, it is the best feeling in the world.

And, believe it or not, sometimes a rejection is a good thing. I’ve gotten a little excited (read: drunk) and submitted things before their time. And, of course, they get rejected. But, then, I’ve gone back and fixed the things that weren’t working. I’m usually much happier if I give a story time to mature. That’s when my work has been accepted – when I give my story the time and work it needs.

 

Anything else you’d like to say?

Thanks for reading. 


Issue 4 is now available to purchase!

Well, after some delay, the latest issue of Bop Dead City has hit non-existent newsstands,but can still be purchased here on the site. We’ve got poetry by Sandy Hiortdahl, Kevin Ridgeway, K. Wardman, Karrie Waarala, Mitchell Grabois, and Sally Burnette, with fiction by Brianne Kohl and Z.Z. Boone. The cover art is “Droplets” by Mark Guider…

Image

I’d like to thank him for bailing me out of a cover art disaster with his lovely photo. Send in more art next time, you heathens.

Please buy a copy; it’s our biggest issue yet, literally. And stay tuned to this site for interviews with the authors of this issue.


Sorry, I’m having trouble with the envelope…

Oh, there it is. We’ve finished judging the submissions and we’ve picked the winners. For poetry, Sandy Hiortdahl won with “August Vortex,” and for fiction, Brianne Kohl won with “Her Feminine Circumstance.”

Thanks to everyone for their submissions over the past two months. The issue will be available for purchase sometime next week. Feel free to buy one or twelve. 


Issue 4 is closed for submissions!

Thanks to everyone for their submissions over the past two months. We’ll tally up the votes and come up with the winners for the contest later this week.