Author Spotlight: Blair Austin

  • a hybrid fiction writer who was once a librarian.

Readers, thanks for checking out another Author Spotlight Interview. Let’s give a good, hearty welcome to this week’s guest!

A former librarian, Blair Austin was born in Michigan. His debut novel, Dioramas (2023), won the Dzanc Books Fiction prize. He lives in Massachusetts.

Blair, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most author spotlight interviews start off with the boring stuff, but I know what readers REALLY want to know.

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

I’d like a tiny, intelligent bird. It would have the ability to fly out the window and fly around out there. It would come back each day with a seed, drop it in a jar and then perch. It could communicate by placing seeds in a grid of letters and numbers, and when it had completed what it wanted to say, it would put each seed back in the jar.

That’s super specific and pretty adorable, I think.

What do you write? And how did you get started?

I like to write both realist stuff and stuff that tends toward a breach in reality, a bit unreal. I got started when I got sick and spent a lot of time alone. Some combo of walking alone in the woods as a teenager and doing a lot of reading pretty much set the writing in motion.

I’m glad you found your way to your writing.

What do you like to read?

I like poetry very much (J.H. Prynne, Edward Dorn, Dorothy Parker, Paul Celan, and many others) and fiction with a really complex surface and dense prose. I also like prose that’s more straightforward. I began as a kid with Stephen King (who is still a favorite) and added other writers along the way. In the nonfiction realm, I like to read re-prints where the facts on offer often still apply but where the world in which they’re presented no longer exists.

I’ve learned I like poetry read aloud better than reading it myself. What a great variety!

Do you snack when you write/edit? What are your favorites!

I don’t eat while I write. My problem is, after writing I want to forget by sitting down and mood-eating. I have a chicken wing problem.

Oh, dear. I have a snack-while-I-write problem, so I totally get the ‘mood-eating’.

What do you drink when you write/edit?

Sometimes coffee, sometimes water, sometimes both.

Nice to stay hydrated and caffeinated!

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you

You should do X.

Almost none of the advice on offer works for me. I tend to bully myself over it and wonder what’s wrong with me when it doesn’t work. Over the years I’ve found a process that mostly works for me. I write very early in the morning when it’s dark. I use a notebook, write by hand, type with a typewriter, use scissors and tape, retype as many times as needed. I hope like hell this continues to work.

Finding a writing process that works for you can be an ongoing process. I’m glad you’ve found one that’s working for you.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice they can pry out of your cold, dead hands

Read, read, read.

The old adage, “read, read, read,” is a good one. For me, books tend to come from other books. The most important books are ones I completely forget the contents of. They just drop far inside, into the dark, and later, if I chance to re-read something, I’ll see the echoes in my writing. So for me a book I fail to understand and which I then forget (remembering only that it blew me away) is the most powerful.

I’m a huge fan of this one, too!

Shameless Self-Promotion time!


In this hybrid novel—part essay, part prose poem, part travel narrative—Blair Austin brings us nose to the glass with our own vanishing world, what we preserve and at what cost.

In a city far in the future, in a society that has come through a great upheaval, retired lecturer Wiggins moves from window to window in a museum, intricately describing each scene. Whales gliding above a shipwreck and a lost cup and saucer. An animatronic forest twenty stories tall. urban wolves in the light of an apartment building. A line of mosquitoes in uniforms and regalia, honored as heroes of the last great war.
Bit by bit, Wiggins unspools the secrets of his world—the conflict that brought it to the brink, and the great thinker, Michaux, who led the diorama revolution, himself now preserved under glass.
After a phone call in the middle of the night, Wiggins sets out to visit the Diorama of the Town: an entire, dioramic world, hundreds of miles across, where people are objects of curiosity, taxidermied and posed. All his life, Wiggins has longed to see it. But in the Town, he comes face to face with the diorama’s contradictions. Its legacy of political violence. Its manipulation by those with power and money. And its paper-thin promise of immortality.

Check out Blair across the web!

Goodreads | Amazon

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