3Ws – Nicole Blades

What do you create?

I’m a novelist and freelance journalist and a mother. So, I create books and stories and, I guess you could say that that one glorious time, I created a whole human being. And he’s an utter delight.

 

 

Why do you create?

I create because storytelling has always intrigued me. It’s at the core of being a human being. It’s what makes us, us. I write to try to understand this world and our place in it. I write to gain perspective, to learn about things far beyond me, and—I hope—to entertain. I want to give readers a glimpse into someone else’s experience and dig into real-world emotions to maybe help us navigate through the lumps and knots in life a little better.

THE THUNDER BENEATH US gets into some heavy things: shame, guilt, identity, secrets, complicated family dynamics, love, and grief. There’s a lot of emotion in each of these issues on their own. I write to maybe sort through all of it.

 

 

What do you consume?

I consume a lot of words and images. Overall, I like consuming stories. That means plenty of books, magazine and online pieces, long reads, quick clever deep captions, and also really good, smart TV shows. I’ve never been into snubbing my nose at television. I’ve always owned one—except for that brief period when I moved into my first apartment in Brooklyn—and I can always find something inspired, fascinating and plain ol’ fun to watch. For example, I’ve been really enjoying Atlanta on FX and re-reading Their Eyes Were Watching God. This re-read stemmed partly from the fact that I haven’t read the classic since university and also I’ve set down a book-buying embargo. No new books until I’ve made a real dent in what I call Mount Nightstand.

 

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3Ws – Cristina Alger

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What do you create?

I’m a novelist and a mother of two small children, so I am always creating. Novels, sandbox castles, pillow forts, puppet shows, ice cream sundaes, finger-painting projects … not necessarily in that order.

 

 

Why do you create?

To understand the world around me. Writing is cheaper than therapy and I think it’s a lot more fun. My first novel, THE DARLINGS, was a thriller set in New York during the 2008 financial crisis. I started working on it right after Lehman Brothers collapsed. It was such a stressful time to work in finance (I was a corporate attorney at a large New York firm at the time). Friends were getting laid off right and left; big banks were imploding; local stores were closing; the city felt fraught with tension. Writing THE DARLINGS was my way of processing all of it. My second novel, THIS WAS NOT THE PLAN, is a comedy about a workaholic single dad who gets laid off from his job at a law firm and is forced to spend the summer at home with his five year old son. I wrote it shortly after having my daughter. I was struggling to find some semblance of balance between my professional life and parenthood, and this book was my way of working through that.

 

 

What do you consume?

Coffee. So much coffee. It’s a rare, sad day when I don’t eat ice cream (Talenti Mediterranean Mint Chip is my current favorite). And I read as much as I can. This has been such a wonderful year for books. Recently, I’ve loved: BEHOLD THE DREAMERS (Imbolo Mbue), CRUEL, BEAUTIFUL WORLD (Caroline Leavitt), A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW (Amor Towles), and UNDER THE HARROW (Flynn Barrow). My nightstand is overflowing!

 

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3Ws – Christina Hoag

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What do you create?

I create stories wherein characters have to make hard choices when confronted with extraordinary events, in short – drama. My aim is to create well written stories that have intricate plots but also intricate characters. My problem with most of detective/mystery fiction, which I like in general, is that it tends to be formulaic in plot and character, whereas a lot of literary fiction is too slow-paced to sustain interest. I’m striving to hit the balance between the two. I also gravitate toward foreign settings, probably because I’ve lived in several countries and travelled around the world (travel is another passion of mine), and setting stories amid current events. That’s probably the journalist in me since I’m a news junkie.

 

 

Why do you create?

When I was six years old, I won a prize for “writing interesting stories.” I have no recollection of what I wrote, but obviously it can’t have been too much in first grade! In later report cards, teachers mentioned my vivid imagination, and my ability to read enabled me to skip second grade altogether. But it was a couple decades later, when I unearthed that first little certificate in piles of old stuff, I realized that the urge to write stories was something I’d been born with. It was just there. In high school, I chose journalism as my career because it would pay me to write, and it was a great choice. I loved being a reporter. But these days, having accomplished what I set out to do in journalism (namely being a foreign correspondent), I have rediscovered that writing fiction is my true passion. I actually feel a sense of joy when I write. It engages me like no other activity. When I’ve been immersed in writing and take a break, I almost feel stunned when I get up from my desk, like I’ve been away and I’m re-entering the world. It’s an odd sensation. I truly feel blessed in some way to have this gift.

 

 

What do you consume?

In the literary arena, I’m an eclectic reader but I love upmarket women’s fiction, gritty standalone crime novels and most anything set in foreign locations. Graham Greene is one of my favorite authors. These days I also consume television. I’ve never been a big TV watcher, and I confess that I’ve never watched many hit shows that have become part of the popular American zeitgeist because they simply didn’t interest me. But now there’s a surfeit of really good TV, largely because U.S. producers have finally discovered what the British have been doing for decades – serialized drama, which allows for deeper character and plot exploration. I find these shows far more satisfying, maybe because they’re more like televised novels.

 

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3Ws – Anne Korkeakivi

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What do you create?

As a novelist, as well as an occasional nonfictionist of essays and articles, I strive to create conversations–between myself and my readers, my readers and each other, myself and the world. I construct journeys also, both metaphorically and geographically. I’m an expat writer and inveterate traveler, and my work tends to follow suit: my first novel, An Unexpected Guest, was set in Paris, also Dublin and Boston; my new novel, Shining Sea, opens in Southern California and travels to the remote Hebrides islands off the western coast of Scotland and back, with many stops in between.

You could say that, as a writer of literary fiction, I create worlds also. Certainly, that’s how they feel to me. My characters become very real to me; I launch them into existence and then they take over.

 

 

Why do you create?

Honestly? Compulsion. I can’t imagine living in any other way. Even as the tiniest girl I was making up stories—continuing ones too, like little novels in my head. I’d lie in my bed at night while the rest of the house was asleep, letting them flit through my head like shadows across the ceiling.

 

 

What do you consume?

The New York Times daily, Le Nouvel Observateur weekly, also The Guardian, Literary Hub, and Electric Literature. My Twitter feed. Literary fiction, especially from the US, UK, Ireland, France, and anywhere in Africa. Nonfiction about armed or societal conflict. Poetry, currently by some wonderful women poets—for example, Warsan Shire, Erin Hollowell, Claudia Rankine, and Maggie Smith–but also unfailingly Yeats. Ancient Greek myths, which I know backwards and forwards but of which I can never get enough. A lot of visual art, particularly modern and contemporary. Music. Foreign landscapes, people, and cultures. Nature, in large, desperate gulps. And pomegranate. I might just be addicted to pomegranate seeds.

 

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3Ws – Louise Miller

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What do you create?

By day, I create desserts, and by night I create novels that I hope are funny and true.
 

Why do you create?

I have always turned to writing to figure the world (and myself) out. As a kid my diary was my lifeline—I didn’t understand how I was feeling unless I wrote it down. As an adult, I find writing fiction to be a wonderful way to explore questions I have without having to upend my life. The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living was inspired in part by my wrestling with the question would I be happy living in the country? I have always had a longing to live someplace rural, to have goats and sheep and a dozen dogs, to have some land and to know it well. At the same time I live a very happy city life, full of theater and art and food and people from all over the world. I am perfectly divided. Writing The City Baker, which is set in northern Vermont, gave me the chance to dream about making that move, and to consider the ups and downs of it. But the simplest answer to the question why do I write is that I like to make people laugh. Which is pretty similar to why do I bake. I like making people happy. Sweets and a good story are some things that make people happy, and I get to provide that happiness. Satisfying work all around.
 

What do you consume?

Stories in every form. Novels, of course. But I am also a movie junkie. I love to be in a darkened theater with a bucket of popcorn. I believe movies should be seen on a big screen whenever possible. I’m lucky to live near a wonderful independent movie theater that shows smaller-budget movies, foreign films and old-time classics. Plus they have real butter. And then there are plays! My partner and I subscribe to two theaters in Boston, and we travel to New York frequently to see plays and to eat. And I can’t forget television—there is so much good storytelling happening on TV right now. Add several podcasts to the mix, and you can see that I’m a little story-obsessed.

 

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3Ws – Kate Billingsley

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What do you create?

I’m a trilingual improv artist, performing in the U.S.—New York and Baltimore, Paris, France, and Seville, Spain, with my solo show CommuniKate:ArtAlive! The show focuses on artists, mostly Impressionists, whom I love and whom I want audiences to know and appreciate as well.

Things I’ve learned on the trilingual circuit: Clowning and physical comedy are a must for getting the character across, and in France my clown has to be quite cruel and haughty to get a laugh, while in Spain the clown is much louder and melodramatic with lots of singing and gestures, which suits audiences there. Also, European improv is performed in a smaller, more intimate café-style venue than here, where you disappear into the wings after a show, so you have to not be afraid to be right on top of your audience, feed off of them: they’re learning you, as you’re learning how to improv in their language. It’s super-gratifying.

 

 

Why do you create?

CommuniKate was borne out of me wanting to get back to France after living there for three-and-a-half years. I was lucky to find the perfect director, Mike Harris, executive creative director of BIG, the Baltimore Improv Group, to help me create this blend of traditional theater with improv and take it on the road.

 

 

What do you consume?

Chocolate, despite my best intentions. I LOVE the movie Before Sunrise to transport me elsewhere. My friend Esther Garboni’s Spanish poetry is amazing. I binge-watched UnReal, the Lifetime drama about reality television that has really textured female characters. I like to watch an episode of Amy Poehler’s podcast, Smart Girls at the Party, before I go to bed. She interviews “ women who are changing the world by being themselves.” It helps me nurture my weird.

 

Links

 Baltimore Improv Festival: http://www.baltimoreimprovfestival.org/performers/#communiKate (Monday, July 25th at 7:30 PM)

 

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3Ws – Caroline Angell

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What do you create?

As a writer and a director, I do my best to create characters by fully exploring the complexity of their emotional lives. My favorite living writer is Elizabeth Strout; I had the chance to hear her speak recently, and she talked about how fiction offers an opportunity to extend our empathy. I agree, and my goal is to create a world to explore my own “what if,” and provide a chance for a reader (or a viewer) to say “what would I do if…?”

Also, I like to create silly, rhyming songs for kids. Just, like, in my regular life. I never write them down, though, because they’re rarely funny to anyone except me and the kid.

 

 

Why do you create?

I’m an avid reader, and one of my favorite feelings is to be completely sucked into someone else’s world. When I read something that gives voice to a feeling I’ve had and maybe not had my own words for or understood fully, it makes me feel connected. It helps me understand myself better. It makes me want to try and understand the people around me better. I think a large part of the reason that I write is to be part of that circle; to explore the things that cross my mind, that I wrestle with, in the hope that someone else might feel connected by my words.

 

 

What do you consume?

Old episodes of Friends. Quality time with people I love. Fiction, especially by lady writers. Matzoh ball soup from the 2nd Avenue Deli (I’m pretty sure I’m keeping them in business). Lots of caffeine, in many forms. And libraries. I might actually be addicted to libraries.

 

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3Ws – Matthew Norman

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What do you create?

Literary comedies with some seriousness woven in. You may be asking yourself, Aren’t those called dramedies? Probably, but, I hate that word, so, no. I also write a lot of short essays about parenthood and marriage. And I write letters to Bono sometimes.

 

 

Why do you create?

This is a good question—one I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. Anyone who writes knows that writing is never easy, but, for me, it was a hell of a lot easier when I was younger. I had boundless energy, virtually no responsibilities or distractions, and I was still naïve enough to think that I had things to say that absolutely needed to be said. Now, as a full-fledged adult, I write because it’s what I am physically and emotionally conditioned to do. When I skip a day, I’m restless and moody. When I skip several days I’m overwhelmed with guilt and impossible to be around. Plus, sometimes, when it’s going well, and when I string a few sentences together that work and don’t immediately need to be deleted, I genuinely enjoy it.

 

 

What do you consume?

More caffeine than I think any doctor would recommend. Green tea by the barrel full—but iced, never hot. Diet Dr Pepper, which I’m trying to cut back on. Music is always on at our house. Books, of course, but, with two small children and my own writing to do, I consume fewer than I’d like. Movies, because that’s what I was raised on. Good TV, too, which there’s a ton of now. And baseball, because it’s just the best.
 

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3Ws – Gina Mulligan

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What do you create?

I write fiction about strong women for strong women. This comes through my historical novels, magazine articles, and my charity. Using my writing, my voice, has given me a way to create a movement called Girls Love Mail. We collect letters for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Letter writing is such a lost art. Creating these special gifts is a way for women to help empower each other

 

Why do you create?

I want to give people hope and support. With my charity, I think we’re fulfilling a need, and having such a strong purpose for my work inspires me. I also create to give a well-deserved nod to the amazing, pioneering women in our history that time has forgotten. We should remember foremothers and become the next generation of women to remember.

 

What do you consume?

Puppy videos. Watch a cute one. Feel free to share them with me on Facebook ─ I can’t watch enough!

 

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3Ws – Lisa Scottoline

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What do you create?

I think I create stories that inspire, intrigue, terrify, rivet, and ultimately uplift people. I write fiction and nonfiction, and to me, my goal is the same in both, which is all of the above.

 

Why do you create?

I create because of the reason I said above, I create to inspire people and help them believe that they can overcome the obstacles in their life. I say this because I’ve written about thirty novels and in everyone an ordinary man or woman is faced with an unusual situation, but one that could occur, and they have to overcome it, simply by dint of will, intelligence, resilience, or bravery. I think ordinary people have a great deal of bravery that they don’t acknowledge, particularly women. And I hope that if I keep telling stories like this and people keep reading them, they will understand that they’re just like the main characters and that they can do anything!

 

What do you consume?

I love living in the time we do because I feel as if I consume everything. I read very widely and all across genres, both fiction and nonfiction. I love all kinds of movies, and see at least one a week, and I watch all kinds of television shows. I’m truly a junkie of pop culture in that way, and I love opera so I get to live opera as often as I can, if not go see the opera movies that the Metropolitan Opera is broadcasting. I feel as if I’m consuming story all the time and I truly believe that it helps me write my novels and nonfiction memoirs, which I write with my daughter, Francesca Serritella.

 

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