Tag Archives: Midwestern Gothic

Awful Interview: Christina Olson

11 Oct

Christina Olson author pic b&w

Behold, the lovely Christina Olson, author of Before I Came Home Naked. She’s the Poetry Editor at MidWestern Gothic, and the brains behind the collaborative effort of a reading that will be taking place TONIGHT at the HIGHLAND BALLROOM. She let me interview her awfully.

Okay Christina, I have to ask: how often to people ask you if you’re related to the Olsen twins?

These days, not so much. In college, in 1999, when I went by “Olson”? ALL THE TIME.

You went by Olson? Do you kind of miss it?
Also, how different do you think your life would be if you were related to the Olsen twins?

Yeah, when I went to college, I ended up in a “suite” (really just a hallway with four two-person dorm rooms and a shared bathroom, and there were four other girls in the hall with C-something names. I sort-of jokingly said that they could call me “Olson” to keep the Christinas straight from the Chrissys and the Charlenes, and then that turned into me being dubbed Olson, and then within the first two weeks, I became friendly with a guy who knew everyone, and presto: by the end of the month, I was Olson. Literally, within one weekend. I went to two parties with this guy and somehow met everyone and just became Olson.

When I say, everyone … the guy I ended up dating for three years of college only called me that. So did his parents. It was quite, quite ingrained. Then I moved to Minnesota, and met my now-husband, and within a day of meeting me, he was like, Yeah, I’m not calling you that. I do sort of miss it, but like a lot of undergrad, it’s probably best left in 2001.

To answer your other question, if I were related to the twins, I think the whole story above would have still happened, only at NYU and not a little state school in western New York. And there would be more hobo bags. Weren’t those girls always carrying hobo bags for a while?

I think they did! I think they made a habit of carrying around purses they they themselves could fit in for a while. Question –  have you ever daydreamed about having a bag like Mary Poppins’? I do, often. If you had one, what would you keep in it? More importantly WHAT WOULDN’T YOU?

This is a tough one, because I rarely carry a bag. But I WOULD want the bag around if it were magical, so I’d make an exception. Here’s what I’d keep in it: the same stuff I normally carry, like a phone and money, but also my dog, because he is awesome and every situation improves with his addition. Also, hot sauce. It used to be Huy Fong but now I’m on a big Cholula kick. Of course, since the bag is magic, the hot sauce is never going to leak anywhere. Also, because dogs and hot sauce are sometimes things people actually carry around, I’m going to say an ankylosaurus, because it is my favorite dinosaur.

Oh, and a book, I guess. I should have said a book. Bad writer. Oh, I should have said MY book. AWFUL WRITER.

Which is more awesome: an ankylosaurus or this Friday’s reading?

Let’s see. The ankylosaurus was one of the gassiest dinosaurs, since his was a primarily plant-based diet. He had a club for a tail and was probably fairly stupid.

The Friday reading, meanwhile, features six transplanted Midwesterners and/or Atlanta-based readers, all of who kick ass, and it’s going to be a lovely autumnal evening in Atlanta.

Awful Interview: Matt Fogarty

11 Oct


This is a photograph of writer Matt Fogarty with Santa Clause. Yes, Santa is real and Matt knows him! It’s probably because Matt is from Detroit, which is pretty close to the North Pole. Now he’s an MFA candidate at the University of South Carolina, which is pretty far from the North Pole. He’s the Founding Editor of Cartagena and he’s reading TONIGHT at Vouched + Midwestern Gothic Present! He let me awfully interview him.

So Matt, the biography you sent me for the reading makes you sound like a pretty busy guy. Would you say you have strong time-management skills?

If by “time-management” you mean “holy crap I got sucked into a Burn Notice loop on Netflix and forgot I had to do that thing let me do it as quickly as I can before that other thing happens and dammit the dog needs to go out again,” then yes. But seriously, I’m naturally lazy, so every day is a challenge. And I don’t sleep nearly as much as I seem to want to.

That sounds stressful. Are you stressed?

Ha, right now, yes? I find myself making a lot of “to do” lists — it’s strangely soothing, even though there’s no way I’ll ever be able to get to everything on the list. It’s a way to trap all the extraneous things that aren’t writing into a sort of brain-box so that I can (hopefully) free up space to do what I love. I’m lucky to have some great friends, a great girlfriend, and a dog that loves/tolerates me. And when all else fails, there’s whiskey and sports.

To-do lists help for sure! Why is crossing things out so therapeutic?  I also recommend popping bubble wrap, if you haven’t tried it.

BUBBLE WRAP YES. Popping bubble wrap is like tickling angels. My parents just moved out of their home of 35+ years and sent me boxes full of mementos wrapped in bubble wrap. It was glorious. And I think there could be whole works of scholarship on the phenomenology of crossing out. Actually, now I want to write a story called “The Phenomenology of Crossing Out.”

You certainly should write that. Now be honest – what were you more excited about… the bubble wrap or the mementos?

Honestly, the bubble wrap. Maybe. I don’t know. I suppose there was the little blue robe I used to wear when I was four and would pretend to be the Cookie Monster at family get-togethers.

By “pretend to be the Cookie Monster” I’m assuming you mean “eat every cookie in sight.” Is that your mantra at family get-togethers? Be honest.

See, the thing most people overlook about the Cookie Monster is that he’s so intense in trying to eat the cookie, most of it falls to the ground. The whole arc of the character is a life lesson, a cautionary tale of humility and preservation and environmental awareness and good health. But yes: me like cookies.

Are you saying you’re also known for being a messy eater? Are you hungry a lot then, if the food never makes it to your mouth? That may be one of the reasons you’re so stressed.

Like the Cookie Monster, I believe the five second rule is bad science — once it’s down, it’s down.

That’s pretty cut-throat. Let’s go back to the list thing. What is the weirdest list you’ve ever made?

In my former life, I was an international trade lawyer. We had all sorts of interesting clients doing stuff all over the world. I can remember having to make a few weird lists then. Now, my weirdest lists tend to be grocery related. I’m horrible at shopping — usually put it off until odd hours of the night. So I’ll frequently find myself in line at a Bi-Lo at 1 AM in shorts and flip-flops buying strange combinations of things like apples, dog toys, and Raid.

I didn’t even know Bi-Lo’s still existed. Say, what are you most excited about for tonight’s reading?

I’ve been reading and loving the work of the other writers for a long time and follow them on Twitter and Facebook. So it’ll be great to meet everybody in person and hear some great stuff. Basically, readings are awesome and these readers are awesome and it’ll be an awesome time.