Monday, March 17, 2014

TCR Story of the Month for March: "Stereograms" by Jen Julian

Author Jen Julian
The Committee Room is especially proud to present "Stereograms" by Jen Julian as TCR Story of the Month for March. In this chilling and powerful story written in the Southern Gothic tradition, a young widow employed at a North Carolina mental institution is haunted by ghosts both literal and figurative.

Jen Julian is from Goldsboro, North Carolina. She received her MFA in Fiction from UNC-Greensboro and is currently an English PhD candidate at the University of Missouri, Columbia. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Press 53’s 2010 and 2013 Open Awards Anthologies, Four Way Review, Toasted Cheese, and an up-and-coming issue of The North Carolina Literary Review Online. She is winner of the University of Missouri's 2013 Margery McKinney Award for Fiction and was a finalist for North Carolina State University's 2009 Brenda L. Smart Fiction Prize.

"Stereograms" was published in New Delta Review and won New Delta Review's 2013 Matt Clark Fiction Prize.

To read "Stereograms" click here

TCR Story of the Month highlights an outstanding work of fiction published online within the preceding twelve months.

TCR Talks with Author Jen Julian

Q: How long have you been writing?
A: Since I was able to use a pencil, I think. I read a lot as a kid, and so even before I could write very well, I would draw out stories with pictures and staple them together as books. I remember getting frustrated once because I put together a story that was so long the staples wouldn't hold. Then through grade school and high school I was always working on long stories, usually stories that featured talking animals or time travel, fantasy stuff; that's what I was into. In college, I took writing workshops and started playing around with shorter forms. My mentor, Tony Varallo, suggested I pursue the MFA in Fiction. So I guess I've never not been writing. I never made a conscious choice to "be" a writer.

Q: Where did you get the idea for "Stereograms?"
A: My mother used to work as a nurse practitioner at a mental hospital in North Carolina. Sometimes she'd have to spend the night in this creepy on-call house that used to be long-term patient housing. Allegedly, it was haunted by a man who'd spent most of his life as a patient there. I wanted to experiment with magical realism, and the on-call house had been sitting in my memory archive for a while. It seemed ripe for a story.

Q: Who are some of your favorite classic authors?
A: I go through phases, but I've loved Poe since I was a kid. Other writers who've really enchanted me in the past few years have been Katherine Mansfield, E. M. Forster, Ford Maddox Ford, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin. Also most things American Gothic, Flannery O'Connor and Shirley Jackson especially.

Q: Who are some of your favorite contemporary authors?
A: Alice Munro is a big one. I love how unmannered her writing is, almost cold, like being in a museum. I also  enjoy writers who play around in speculative genres: Kazuo Ishiguru, Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler, Murakami.

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