Laura Eve Engel's work has recently appeared or is forthcoming from Black Warrior Review, Boston Review, Colorado Review, The Southern Review, Tin House and elsewhere. She blogs sporadically here. You can follow her on Twitter @hoostown.
Have you been to Amsterdam? What did you do while you were here? If you've not been yet, what do you think you'd do in our fair town?
I've never been, or really done much traveling at all to speak of. I'd probably arrive on your doorstep looking confused and ask you to hold me.
What is the first creative thing you ever did?
I remember writing a story in 2nd grade about some fairies on an island that I "self-published" in whatever remote room in my elementary school held all the cardboard and construction paper—in my mind, it looks a little something like a janitor's closet. I was convinced even then that I'd ripped off the plot wholesale from something I'd seen on TV, and having at this point no recollection of the story but a pretty good sense of where I stand as a fiction writer, I'd say I probably did. I'm still not sure what I stole from, though. I want to say it was a precocious 2nd grader's reinvention of A Midsummer Night's Dream, but it was probably more like a fan-fiction approach to Fern Gully.
What is the dumbest thing anyone has ever said to you about being a writer?
When I showed my self-published fairy story to my mom she probably said something like "You should be a writer!" Maybe that isn't dumb. Maybe more like tragic, or sabotage.
If you were an angle, what kind of angle would you be?
O boy, are you ready for this? A Laura Eve Engel.
If you could meet a writer from the 15th, 16th or 17th centuries, who would it be? And what would you talk about?
I'd like to sit down with William Shakespeare and ask him if he's just one dude or, like, a bunch of dudes.
Tell us something few people know about you.
This is probably more like something I think only a few people know about me and actually everyone does, but I love Justin Timberlake. And Top 40 radio generally. I love the radio. I can't help it. As a kid first "discovering" listening to music that way, it made me feel intensely connected to everything else and I've never stopped feeling that way about it, even though now I couldn't disconnect myself from everything else if I wanted to.
Other than Versal (which has clearly been awesome), what's one great place you've been published?
I'm grateful to have a chapbook called [Spoiler Alert], co-written with Adam Peterson, that's out from The Collagist/Dzanc Books. Those are some great folks publishing great things and I feel lucky to be included.
Why did you send work to Versal? Be honest.
I noticed a bunch of writers whose work I really admired citing Versal in their bios, and that's always a good sign. That's been the most reliable way I've found to get turned on to great, newer journals like you guys. I've also never had work published anywhere outside of the US, so that was a draw; it's exciting to know there are now two countries I owe some apologies to.
What has lasted you ten years?
I was vegetarian for 10 years. I've played guitar for 10 years. I guess, now that I think about it, this year was the 10-year anniversary of my getting a driver's license. Ten is the tin/aluminum anniversary which, I'll be honest, I've never really understood what that meant but I guess I'll be getting my license some campfire cookware or siding or something.
Tell us what you're working on right now.
I have a couple of manuscripts in...the fire? Like irons? One is a collection of poems called Things That Go, and the other is a long poem called I Write to You From the Sea that is growing more bloated and stubborn by the day. I just started a third thing that feels separate but hasn't quite defined itself for me yet. Otherwise, I'm getting pumped to spend this summer at the Young Writers Workshop, where I'm Residential Program Director, and which is my favorite place on earth.