Students

Bill
Creative Director-Turned-Writer
Charlee
Teen Writer
Patty
First-Time Novelist
Bracken
Freelance Writer
Shilpi
Scholarship Winner
Bill Prindle

Before finding his spiritual home at GrubStreet, Bill Prindle worked as an award-winning graphic designer, art director, producer, writer, photographer, and marketing manager. One highlight during that period was providing creative direction for a two million dollar trade show extravaganza for an Internet company that went out of business a year later. Another highlight was living and working in Galway, Ireland for two years during which he learned to play the tin whistle badly. Before that he married his wife Nina. Before that he worked for a blissful year at National Geographic as a production gofer. Before that he taught high school and junior high school English. Before that he worked as a community organizer. Before that he went to Duke University, earning a degree in English and surviving a broken heart, and before that, his most singular moment was being arrested by an ATF agent for his part in an adolescent summer project, the assembly of a working still.

When did you first take a GrubStreet class? What prompted you to do so?

I showed up at GrubStreet two years ago after starting a novel. I’d written 80 pages and realized I didn’t really know what the hell to do next. I bless the employer that eliminated my job thereby providing me with the motivation and time to sign up for Chip Cheek’s Fiction One class.

What do you like best about being in a writing workshop?

What never ceases to fascinate me is to present something I’ve written to my classmates and to hear the very different and entirely legitimate interpretations of what I thought to be a pellucid bit of prose but which, in fact, wasn’t and needs revision. They are the first audience and all of their comments are helpful.

Have you continued taking writing courses, either at Grub or elsewhere?

GrubStreet has become a simple necessity in my life, as important as the small cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee I must drink every morning or the cigars I smoke while writing. My fellow fictioneers, as Chip calls his students, are a talented and hard-working bunch from wonderfully varied backgrounds and the teachers have all been helpful, insightful, and encouraging. They have provided the ideal environment for this writer.

Do you think of yourself as a writer?

Actually saying to someone “I’m a writer” is something I’m not ready to do yet for a couple of reasons. It still feels grandiose for me to do so. It also inevitably invites the response, “Oh? What do you write?” which I try to describe in as few words as possible. Not once has anyone said they’d like to read one of my stories, for which I’m oddly thankful. In the future, I’d hope to hand them a copy of my just published novel when they ask what do I write.

Do you feel like being a part of a writing community is helpful to you as a writer and creative person?


GrubStreet provides me with the continued impetus to keep writing. After each one of my classes, my confidence, which has deflated like a balloon during the preceding week, is re-inflated with enough goodwill, desire, and determination that I keep writing.

Who are some of your favorite writers?


John Collier, who wrote very short stories that someone said “glitter like the point of a stiletto” is a favorite as are Roald Dahl’s short stories. Much of my writing harkens back to the frisson I felt as a kid when watching Alfred Hitchcock Presents or Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone — stories that had a pleasing mixture of humor, creepiness, mayhem, murder, and the delicious twist at the end. A recent favorite novel is The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox, which has one of the best opening lines written: “After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn’s for an oyster supper.” There is also the novel I mean to read, which was written during the Great Depression and which bears one of the best titles I’ve ever encountered: Waiting for Nothing.

Where can we find you on a typical Saturday night?


I’d like to saying something like a typical Saturday night will find me stalking through the seamy underbelly of Boston nightlife, chatting with the bookies, pickpockets, con artists, street performers, working girls, cops, topers, and dopers, jotting down their colorful language and improbable stories, collecting notes for my next story. But, in truth, it’s often dinner out and home to watch an episode of Downton Abbey.

What beverage do you have by your side while you're writing?


I don’t know how Christopher Hitchins did it, but for me, during the day, it’s one cup of Dunkin, then big glasses of fizzy water, and at the end, when I’m re-reading what I’ve written, I inoculate myself to my inevitable disappointment with a giant glass of beer, which at times I wish were absinthe.

If you could have dinner with any writer, living or dead, who would it be?


Many writers are reputed to be dull dinner companions, so I’d want certified talkers with whom to dine. It would be fun to have dinner with Mark Twain because he was a non-stop storyteller and cigar smoker, but it would have to be at his wonderful house in Hartford. Gore Vidal would be another fantastic dinner companion because not only did he have opinions on everything, but he articulated them with great wit, elegance, and spite. This dinner would have to be at his villa in Italy. In the living writer column, I would also like to have dinner with all my Grub teachers: Chip, Adam, Ron, and Sophie.

Charlee Manigat, Teen Writer

When did you first take a GrubStreet class? What prompted you to do so?

I first took a GrubStreet class in July of 2012. My dad wanted me to do a summer program that would allow me to write because he knows I love writing so much, and he found GrubStreet!

What did you like best about being in a writing workshop?

The best part about being in a writing workshop is that we were required to perform our poem at the end of program. I am a very shy person and I was never comfortable sharing my writing but I was given the opportunity to take a risk and perform my best piece of writing. I think that was one of my greatest accomplishments because I never perform in front of people and I was really proud of myself.

Have you continued taking writing courses, either at Grub or elsewhere?

I have continued taking writing courses at school, of course, but I write on the side for myself.

Do you think of yourself as a writer?

I think I am a very expressive writer. Ever since I was little, I was always writing short stories or silly poems that portrayed my feelings at that time. Ultimately, I think of myself as a strong and expressive writer.

Do you feel like being a part of a writing community is helpful to you as a writer and creative person?

I do feel as though being a part of a writing community is helpful because you are all interested in the same thing but have very different writing styles. This allows the writer to be comfortable with their hobby but also an opportunity to feed off of peoples ideas and get feedback.

Who are some of your favorite writers?

My favorite writers are Ebony Joy Wilkins, Nancy Farmer, and Alysia Harris.

Where can we find you on a typical Saturday night?

You can find me at home probably studying for the SAT or at dance :)

What beverage do you have by your side while you're writing?

Either a mango smoothie or a water bottle.

If you could have dinner with any writing, living or dead, who would it be?

My favorite poet ever is Alysia Harris so definitely her!

Patricia Park

Patricia Park was born and raised in New York City and received her MFA from Boston University. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Guardian, Slice Magazine, Fourth Genre, and others. She is the recipient of writing fellowships with Fulbright, The Center for Fiction, and American Association of University Women. Her debut novel Re Jane, a modern-day retelling of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, is forthcoming with Penguin/Viking.

What did you like best about being in the Novel Incubator?

The fact that I got to study with actual working writers who offered practical, applicable advice. I was impressed by how well many were able to problem-shoot right on the spot.

Have you continued taking writing courses, either at Grub or elsewhere?

Nope. I live in NY now and am in some serious GrubStreet withdrawal!

Can you tell us about your road to publication?

The whole process happened both quickly and in slow motion. I'd been working on my novel for years and was really hesitant to start querying agents too early--I didn't want to be the writer who cried wolf! (Or I guess that's the opposite of crying wolf? Oh well.) After I did the Novel Incubator, I felt much more ready. Shortly after the program I submitted to a bunch of agents, and ultimately signed with agents I met through my instructors. We worked on several rounds of edits, and I signed a book deal a few months later.


Do you feel like being a part of a writing community is helpful to you as a writer and creative person?

I do. Writing is a lonely and solitary endeavor, and yet most people outside the community think we're just living the dream, type-type-typing away and having the time of our lives! It really helps to have friends who are or have been down there in the trenches with you; friends with whom you can commiserate but also celebrate.

Who are some of your favorite writers?

Lorrie Moore. Her stories are so smart and funny, yet beneath that veneer of humor there's a lot of sadness and anger. Junot Diaz--I think he uses language(s) in fresh and interesting ways. In grad school I studied with Ha Jin, and I look to his work for structure, pacing, and his clean and precise diction.

Where can we find you on a typical Saturday night?

At the Brooklyn Inn with neighborhood friends. (Gratuitous literary shout-out: a fictionalized version of the bar appears in Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn!)

What beverage do you have by your side while you're writing?

Half-regular, half-decaf coffee, a little milk, no sugar. Coffee still gives me the jitters.

If you could have dinner with any writing, living or dead, who would it be?

Shakespeare. Why not. I think he'd be fun to grab a pint with.

Bracken MacLeod

Bracken MacLeod has worked as a martial arts teacher, a college philosophy instructor, at a children's non-profit, and as a criminal and civil trial attorney. While he does his best to avoid using the law education, he occasionally finds uses for martial arts and philosophy. His work has appeared in Sex and Murder Magazine, The Siren's Call e-zine, and twice in Every Day Fiction. He also has stories in the anthologies, The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes, Anthology: Year One, and most recently in Femme Fatale: Erotic Stories of Dangerous Women from Go Deeper Press. His debut novel, Mountain Home, is available from Books of the Dead Press.

When did you first take a GrubStreet class? What prompted you to do so?

I took my first class in 2009. I’d been hearing about GrubStreet from a friend who’d taken a few classes and convinced me to go to Muse and the Marketplace. In preparation for that, I took Sorche Fairbank’s class on synopsis and query writing. However, it was Adrian Van Young’s “The Terrible Familiar: Writing Literary Darkness Tastefully and Effectively” in 2010 that had a profound effect on my work. He got me thinking about character and point of view in a way I hadn’t before. Van Young and KL Pereira both got me to break through the psychological walls inhibiting my work.


What did you like best about being in a writing workshop?

The best part of any workshop I’ve taken is the warmth and support given not only by your instructors but also the other students. My biggest fear before taking a class was publicly sharing my work. I was convinced that as soon as my stuff was read, I’d be revealed as a fraud and a hack and shown the door. Of course that’s the exact opposite of what really happens at Grub. Everyone listens and gives useful support. It was a catalyst for me continuing to seek the company and assistance of other creative people even when I wasn’t taking a class.


Have you continued taking writing courses, either at Grub or elsewhere?

I took classes at Grub through 2011, but the birth of my son--that forced me to take a break. I’m a full-time father now, and my schedule isn’t as forgiving as it used to be. I miss it terribly.


Do you think of yourself as a writer?

It’s a loaded question, isn’t it? There’s a lot of back and forth about who is a “real” writer, or the difference between being a pro and a hobbyist. A white belt on her first day of classes and the brown belt at the opposite end of the room are both martial arts students. They have differing levels of education and skill, but they’re both in the room sweating and throwing punches, not sitting on a sofa watching movies and dreaming about it. That’s how I think about writing. If your butt is in the chair and you’re doing the work, you’re a writer. Even better if you’re sending work out, being rejected, and eventually selling. You might not be a black belt yet, but if you’ve got your gloves up and you’re in the ring, you’re a writer.


Do you feel like being a part of a writing community is helpful to you as a writer and creative person?

Absolutely. Sharing my work and receiving feedback in a supportive environment was the first step necessary for me to start sending out stories and be able to take rejection without feeling beaten. But beyond that, the company of creative people is as essential to me as food and water. I don’t believe in writer’s block, but my batteries do get low. When I need them recharged I look to my colleagues and friends in the creative community. We talk about our work, share stories and chapters, and we hold each other up when we’re struggling. I wouldn’t have that source of power if it weren’t for meeting people at places like Grub and Muse. You don’t just run into talented writers and artists at Target.


Who are some of your favorite writers?

How long have you got? The short list is Cormac McCarthy, James M. Cain, Jack Ketchum, Andrew Vachss, Albert Camus, and (the three most daunting words for any fiction writer) Joyce Carol Oates. Those are the authors I come back to again and again. They’re also the ones I count as influences--people whose work made me think about my own in a different way.


Where can we find you on a typical Saturday night?

Having a cocktail with my wife on the sofa while we watch a movie. It’s a glamorous life, isn’t it? While she’s enjoying the movie I’m usually thinking about why the story we’re watching does or doesn’t work. I think movies have a lot to tell us about storytelling (both good and bad).



What beverage do you have by your side while you're writing?

Sparkling water, usually. It’s the eye of the storm in between coffee and cocktails where I work best.


If you could have dinner with any writer, living or dead, who would it be?

I’ve been lucky and have had the chance to establish friendships with a lot of writers whose work I admire, like Jack Ketchum for example, but the writer I’ll never get to meet who I wish I could is Albert Camus. As far as influences go, he’s the one who has had the greatest impact on me when it comes to theme.

Shilpi Suneja

Shilpi Suneja holds an MA in English from NYU and an MFA from BU, where she was awarded the Saul Bellow Prize. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Consequence, Hyphen, Meeting House and Write on the DOT magazines as well on Kaafila.org. She is at work on her first novel.


When did you first take a GrubStreet class? What prompted you to do so?

I took The Hook and the Book workshop with Sorche Fairbank because where else could I get so much face time with an established literary agent? The class gave me a much-needed market perspective on my novel that filled me with enough confidence to persevere with my project.


What did you like best about being in a writing workshop?

The ability to see your work from a very different perspective. Also, the affirmation when you are doing something right.


Have you continued taking writing courses, either at Grub or elsewhere?

Yes, I have taken the Novel In Progress workshop with Lisa Borders. Another class that changed the way I saw my novel.


Do you think of yourself as a writer?

I think of myself as a writer and an editor. The writer side of my personality is fickle, while the editor side is more reliable. Both are necessary.

 

Do you feel like being a part of a writing community is helpful to you as a writer and creative person?

Being part of a writing community, esp. being part of GrubStreet is vital. I cannot imagine being a solitary writer for an extended period of time. Being part of a literary community makes you feel you're a writer now, not 5 years in future when your book will be done. It is a daily process. Talking about good books, the trials of the writing process, is what makes you feel you've already become a writer. I don't think I could do this without a writing community. I'm really thrilled to be able to take advantage of all that GrubStreet has to offer.


Who are some of your favorite writers?

I return to Balzac and Flaubert because their works remind me what joy it is to simply be alive and be able to read. Contemporary writers I like: Alice Munro, VS Naipaul, Salman Rushdie, Ha Jin, Jonathan Franzen, Zadie Smith, Teju Cole, Daphne Kalotay, Lisa Borders, and Tea Obreht.


Where can we find you on a typical Saturday night?

There's no such thing as a typical Saturday night! Each weekend is a surprise combination of friends, films, readings, and discussions.


What beverage do you have by your side while you're writing?

Black tea.


If you could have dinner with any writer, living or dead, who would it be?

Balzac. Because he won't really talk about literature at dinner. He'd eat. He'd eat like a glutton and the meal would be lavish and occasionally there would be a brilliant tidbit about Parisian streets.