Wordsmith Interview - Melissa Tombro

Melissa Tombro
Sunset Park, Brooklyn, NY
BA Rutgers College (English, Creative Writing), MA University of Chicago (Humanities), PhD University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (English, Writing Studies)

The Writer

How long have you been writing? 
I wrote my first book at age 8 as part of the NJ Young Author’s Conference. We were chosen from our schools to hand write and illustrate a story that we stitched into a contact paper covered cardboard binding. My book is titled, "The Little Haunted Cottage in the Woods." It still sits on my bookshelf next to my other notebooks. It started an early love of writing for me.

Do you have a specific writing style? 
I am primarily a nonfiction writer and am constantly inspired by the people surrounding me.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as a writer? 
I believe my best work is yet to come.

The Work

The piece I wrote for Crack the Spine is “Interstate 80,” a brief glimpse into the dynamics of an annual family road trip to the county fair.

What inspired "Interstate 80?" 
I’m interested in creating snapshots of other peoples’ lives, giving glimpses that hint at the depth of their experiences.

Tell us about another project you are currently working on. 
I’ve been working for the past few years on my memoir "Thirdhand Life," which chronicles my life as a third generation antique dealer.

What inspired this work? 
I’ve always had this double life, weekdays at school and weekends antiquing, searching for the big find and discovering amazing small treasures along the way. There’s never a dull moment.

When can we find "Thirdhand Life?"
 I have been publishing excerpts from the memoir, most recently in Eclectica, and hope to complete the book in 2015.

The Methods

How often do you write? 
I write daily, whether on my phone in the subway or early morning in my notebook.

Where do you write? 
Everywhere - I have always been compelled to write from the time I was little when I would constantly and meticulously record and create stories about the world around me, often involving antiques.

How many drafts do you generally go through before you consider a piece to be complete? Depending on the piece, I will rewrite as many times as it takes to get the language exactly where I want it, balanced, consistent and not too heavy handed.

What are your thoughts on writing at a computer vs. writing longhand? 
I prefer writing on a computer; my pen is not fast enough to keep up with my thoughts. When they come, they come quickly.

What is your usual starting point for a piece?  
I am inspired by people and often walk around with concepts for characters in my head years before I know where they will appear in my writing.

The Madness

What is your favorite book?  
Nine Stories

What is the greatest occupational hazard for a writer? 
Not taking down time to develop ideas and stare at a blank screen for a while.

What is your favorite word? 

What makes you laugh?
Comments on articles in Yahoo News.

What makes you cry? 
Comments on article in Yahoo News.

What’s in that cup on your desk? 
Gloomy, the naughty grizzly slashing his boy, Pitty.

Issue 130

Afraid of a spring storm on its way to the canyon,
we flee downhill to Flagstaff 
where CNN is breaking the Oklahoma City bombing – 
striated rubble, grey dust. The building 
before. The building after...

- From "En Route, 1995" by Gail DiMaggio

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Issue 130 Contributors

Katherine Minott
Katherine Minott, M.A. is an artist whose photographic work reflects the Japanese aesthetic of wabi sabi--the celebration of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. Her work has appeared in Camas: Nature of the West, New Mexico Magazine, Visual Language Magazine, and the Santa Fe Reporter’s Annual Manual. Please visit her website at katherineminott.com.

Rob Essley
Rob Essley likes to explore the dark forests of human interaction. He lives near Atlanta, where things wriggle and squirm.

Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons
Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons’ work has appeared in Liars’ League NYC, Serving House Journal, Hypertext Magazine, and HiLoBrow. An alum of the Writers Boot Camp screenwriting program, she co-wrote the web series Intersection. She also created and produces No, YOU Tell It!, a “switched-up” storytelling series open to anyone who wants to share his or her story and experience someone else’s. More at: noyoutellit.com.

Lisa C. Taylor 
Lisa C. Taylor is the author of four collections of poetry. She is completing her first collection of short fiction. Lisa has recent or forthcoming work in Worcester Review, Map Literary, Bartleby Snopes, and Crannog. When not writing, Lisa enjoys cooking without recipes and getting lost on trails. She also teaches writing at a small college.

Elizabeth Peterson
Elizabeth Peterson completed her MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts in 1997. Her work has been published in several small literary journals. She was the winner of the 1987 Phi Theta Kappa National Competition in Creative Writing and has been a finalist for the Loft Mentor Series Competition (1996-1997), Hunger Mountain's Howard Frank Mosher Short fiction Prize (2005), and Cutbank Literary Journal's Montana Prize in Fiction (2014). She currently lives in Boston with her Golden Retriever, Riley. Ms Peterson works as a freelance writer and teaches at Bay State College.

Gail C. DiMaggio
Gail C. DiMaggio spent decades helping her husband, a jazz trombonist, pursue his music in a world where no artist ever gives up a day gig. Refusing to become discouraged, she writes about the life of an ordinary woman because for this she has all necessary credentials. And besides, as a friend recently told her, “What else have you got to do?” Self-exiled from New England winter, she lives and writes in Naples, FL.

Dvorah Telushkin
Between 1975-1988 Dvorah Telushkin worked as a personal assistant, editor, and translator for Isaac Bashevis Singer, the Yiddish writer who won the 1978 Nobel Prize in Literature. Her translations appeared in The New Yorker, and in collections of Mr. Singer’s stories published by Farrar Straus and Giroux. In 1997, she published her memoir, "Master of Dreams," telling the story of her twelve-year apprenticeship with Mr. Singer. The book received wide critical attention, including a review in The New York Times. The Weekly Standard called the book “a fully realized portrait of a writer… a reminder that the author’s life was as fascinating as his best fiction.” She is currently completing her first novel, "The Cry of the Loon." In addition, she has recently completed a one-woman show, In Search of the Perfect Pocketbook, which is currently being launched. In 2013, she published in the poetry journals, “The Light Ekphrastic”, “Literary Juice”, and “Orion Headless.”

Judith Thompson
As an emerging voice in the Taos poetry scene, Judith has been involved in several curated ekphrasis events and has aired on KVOT, a local radio station. She was also selected to read at the Society of The Muse of the Southwest (SOMOS) poetry series. From 2008–2012, Judith was enrolled in a poetry workshop with Sawnie Morris, and in 2009 she studied with Dana Levin in A Room Of Her Own Foundation’s poetry intensive. Her work has appeared in the Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art and HOWL: The Voice of UNM Taos. A classically trained musician, Judith received her bachelor’s in music from Occidental College and, before retiring early, worked as a symphony orchestra executive. For fourteen years, Judith and her husband lived aboard a forty-foot sailboat. Now that they have come ashore, she finds passion in growing organic vegetables and fruits when she’s not immersed in reading and writing poetry.

Issue 129

My morning settles into dailyness. I settle for words—
my one way ticket, my passport home—and strain
to hear the echo of my footsteps scuffle their way
down San Angel’s cobblestoned streets.

- From "El Regreso" by Diana Anhalt

Tell us what you think of our latest issue by using the comment form at the bottom of this page!

Issue 129 Contributors

Christopher Ozog
Christopher Ozog is a 22 year old writer who currently attends Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His work has previously appeared in Burningword Literary Journal and The Commonline.

Amy Friedman
Amy Friedman is an English instructor at Harper College with an M.A. in Comparative Literature from Northwestern University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Black Fox Literary Magazine, Decades Review, and Rougarou. She is currently co-authoring her second satirical correspondence novel. Amy lives in Chicago with her husband, her daughter, and her three-pound dog.

Diana Anhalt
Diana Anhalt is the author of "A Gathering of Fugitives" (Archer Books), 3 chapbooks and essays, articles and book reviews in both English and Spanish.Her poems have appeared in Nimrod, Atlanta Review and Comstock Review among others.

Michael Fumai
Michael Fumai is a new New Englander where he works and writes in Providence, RI. He is a graduate of Drew University and the MFA program at Sarah Lawrence College. His short fiction appears in The Fat City Review, Cease, Cows and forthcoming in The Quotable. 

Cady Vishniac
Cady Vishniac is a former human statue and current copy editor living in Boston. She fights with journalists sometimes but maintains amicable relationships with her toddler and her cat. She has work forthcoming in The Legendary and n + 1. 

M. David Hornbuckle
M. David Hornbuckle is the author of a novel, "Zen Mississippi," and a collection of short stories, "The Salvation of Billy Wayne Carter". His fiction, poetry, and articles have been published in more than thirty journals. Currently, he lives in Birmingham, Alabama, where he teaches English at the local university. He is also the Managing Editor of the Steel Toe Review and the Birmingham Free Press.

A.J. Huffman
A.J. Huffman has published seven solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses. Her eighth solo chapbook, "Drippings from a Painted Mind," won the 2013 Two Wolves Chapbook Contest. She also has a full-length poetry collection scheduled for release in June 2005, titled, "A Few Bullets Short of Home" (mgv2>publishing). She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and her poetry, fiction, and haiku have appeared in hundreds of national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, Kritya, and Offerta Speciale, in which her work appeared in both English and Italian translation. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press

Anita Roberts Soupir
Anita Roberts Soupir was born in Missouri, but had a wandering soul. She has lived in Connecticut and South Florida, but now calls rural North Dakota home, where she lives with her husband and two children. She enjoys freelance writing and is currently polishing her first manuscript, "The Dessert Club Series Book 1 - Don’t Trifle With Me," as she searches for representation. Her work can be seen in: Crack the Spine Literary Magazine and Mused - the BellaOnline Literary Review Magazine, as well as Boston Literary Magazine, Literary Juice, 50 Haikus, Thick Jam, and Espresso Stories.

Issue 128

He sits us all down, piled on the bench, says

even if you love the unemployment,

even if you love the drugs, you have to turn

to the walls of health care, theirs, get caught up

in the courts; it’s part of the slave-anthem...

-From "Dr. James Crow" by Ron Riekki

Tell us what you think of our latest issue by using the comment form at the bottom of this page!

Contributors: John Ballantine, Garrett Hines, A.J. Huffman, Melissa Pheterson, John Repp, Ron Riekki, Timothy Schirmer, Melissa Tombro

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