anhonestlie

Say Hello to Author AMANDA KABAK!

In Uncategorized on September 5, 2012 at 11:38 am


Please say HELLO to AMANDA KABAK! She brings us an amazing story, “Over the Rainbow,” in An Honest Lie Vol. 4: Petulant Parables, which I predict will be a fan-favorite in this year’s anthology. Her style and prose mark her as a seasoned writer, which begs my first question: What else have you written?

I’ve had a couple of short-short stories published on the Life with Objects site, and I’ve got a half-dozen other stories out looking for homes. I’m also one short draft away from a finished novel concerning love and friendship and the study of mechanical friction in a small college town.

I can’t wait to see more of your work in print, and after reading “Over the Rainbow,” I bet our readers won’t be able to wait, either. Your writing is fluid and effortless. Where do you write?

I write mostly at a Caribou coffee shop located between my day job office and my home. I have been going there just about every day for well over three years, and all the counter folk know not only my name and my habitual tea but also that they should expect me back at the counter for a refill of hot water. It’s a relatively loud place, but the kind of loud that actually helps me concentrate: the hiss of the espresso machine, the whir of the coffee grinder, the murmur of conversation. I can look outside at the ebb and flow of pedestrians on Wabash or the South Loop wind rattling the trees.

Ah, a coffee shop writer. I have my own coffee shop where I write sometimes, along with an Irish Pub if I really get stuck. How does that environment factor into your stories?

Coffee shops, for me, have always held a primary place in my social life, are places where we can connect that aren’t here or there but are still comfortable and, with enough patronage, become familiar enough to be a home away from home. While I’m at my shop, I am both there and adamantly elsewhere. I laugh with my baristas and scald my tongue on hot tea, but I am also a million miles away in an imaginary direction with my characters.

Although most writers tend to be eavesdroppers scrounging for material, I tend to let the hubbub wash over me. The only thing from my shop that bleeds into my writing is coffee itself, which is ironic since I can’t stand the stuff!

Given how much time I spend there, I’d love to hold a book signing at my home coffee shop.

Hopefully you will soon have a book for the signing. I am confident that if you keep putting out high-quality work like “Rainbow,” that you will land a dream contract one day. How do you feel about introducing religion and politics into your writing?

I don’t usually discuss religion or politics as a topic in-and-of-itself in my fiction, but I do explore how they factor into human nature. Both religion and politics are enduring human beliefs and behaviors and so are windows into the things in us that are universal and useful in illustrating commonalities and differences while also being able to rely on empathy as a gateway into the story.

I write about people. I am continually interested in the varied human experience, though especially around friendship and love. I find it fascinating how we both make and are made by not only our physical environments but our social ones as well, how we seek out and reject labels and roles, the things we do and say to each other to maintain the facade of us versus them. Politics and religion are two essentially social institutions that manage divisions between people–among other things, of course. They are two aspects of the human condition.

When I compose something new, though, it is entirely about my characters. His voice, her predicament. Fears, loneliness, need for connection, all that good human stuff that makes us who we are. My stories don’t work unless I get so deeply into my characters that their essential natures emerge, the things that are idiosyncratically them. Only by making these people come convincingly to life do I have any chance of evoking enough empathy in my readers so that they are open to what I have to say. If I get on a soap box or harangue without evoking empathy (or even with, frankly), whatever “message” I might want to pass along with my story will inevitably be lost.

Because of this, I will never write “about” religion or politics or any other of the many charged topics we have at our disposal. I will write about Cassie and Josh or Mitch and Carol or Julie and Diane, but if I write their stories convincingly enough, I trust that what I have to say about the larger constructs of their (and our) world will become clear.

Note to Dear Reader: You will notice that in this interview, I gave Ms. Kabak quite a bit of space to expound her thoughts on this prior question, and it was an on-demand question from me. If her story “Over the Rainbow” does not inspire something in you, then you did not read the same story I read during her edit (which was little more than a simple proof-read).

The point is, READ what she just wrote. If you skipped owing to length, go back and read it. Copy it to your notes.

Let me finish the interview with a flash-fiction request to highlight Amanda’s writing style. Here is the tickler: You are in the grocery store parking lot when you see a $100 bill on the ground. As you lean over to pick it up…

… your pants split down the middle seam and you know, finally and for good, that your love affair with burritos the size of your sizable thigh is over. You swing your backside into the waxed quarterpanel of the nearest Ford F-150 and contemplate your next move. Cold seeps through the thin fabric of your underwear, and you wish some of the heat from the flush in your face could be relocated to your other cheeks.

The hundred-dollar bill drifts away on a tendril of wind that also holds some cold, dry snow and an empty bag of Cheetos. Cheetos sound good. Or maybe Fritos with some of that jalapeño-studded cheese sauce. And a little ground meat in the spicy taco seasoning over in aisle 8. Oh, and sour cream. Yes, sour cream makes everything better, even a split in the back of your pants that lets in breeze enough to raise some gooseflesh.

When you think of the extra-large soft flour tortillas in the refrigerator case back of aisle 12, you pull the hem of your coat down as far as it will go and saunter into the store, rip be dammed.

Readers, trust me when I say that you need to pick up the forthcoming An Honest Lie Vol. 4: Petulant Parables, which will include Amanda Kabak’s “Over the Rainbow.” Unique and gritty, “Over the Rainbow” will make you see the world a little bit differently.

THANK YOU to Amanda Kabak for taking the time to answer my interview questions. I can’t wait to read more of her work!

BIO: Amanda grew up outside Chicago, came of age in Boston, and was recently reeled back into the Windy City for reasons beyond comprehension. After earning a degree in physics from Boston University, Amanda meandered through various jobs before parlaying her affinity for logic and problem solving into her current career as a software engineer. Despite the title on her business card, writing has always been her first love. Although she spent nearly fifteen years swearing never to return to higher education, Amanda recently recommitted herself to writing and has earned her Master of Fine Arts degree from Pacific University. Amanda’s short stories, “Three” and “Driving North,” have been published in Life with Objects, an online journal, and she is in the final revisions of a novel about love, friendship, and friction in a small town. Her story, “Over the Rainbow,” is forthcoming in An Honest Lie, vol. 4: Petulant Parables, published by Open Heart Press.

Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric’s work here: Publications

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