- a mother, writer, professor, and tree-hugger. Lover of cookies, weeping willows, and dogs
Readers, thanks for checking out another Author Spotlight Interview. Let’s give a good, hearty welcome to this week’s guest!
Jacqueline Vogtman won the 2021 Dzanc Short Story Collection Prize, and her book Girl Country was published by Dzanc Books in May 2023. She received her MFA from Bowling Green State University, and her fiction has appeared in Hunger Mountain, Permafrost, The Literary Review, Third Coast, Smokelong Quarterly, and other journals.
She is currently an Associate Professor of English at Mercer County Community College in New Jersey and resides in a small town surrounded by nature, which she explores with her husband, daughter, and dog.
Jacqueline, 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?
A tiny little lamb!
Oh my goodness! Cutest answer yet.
What do you write? And how did you get started?
I write primarily short fiction. I was mostly a poet until my last year of undergrad, and then I read some contemporary fiction like Anthony Doerr and Aimee Bender that inspired me to focus on fiction. I’ve written one “drawer novel” that will never see the light of day, but I’m currently in the early stages of a new novel that will hopefully not live the rest of its life in a drawer.
What a great array of writing types!
What do you like to read?
Lots of things! Poetry, short fiction, novels, and memoir.
Toni Morrison and Karen Russell are some faves. I also love reading children’s books with my daughter, from books when she was younger (love Eric Carle’s Dream Snow and the Velveteen Rabbit) to the more middle-grade stuff she’s been into lately like graphic novels. I’ve always been drawn to magical realism, and it’s inspired my own fiction.
I love playing ‘what if’ with our world and our physics.
Do you snack when you write/edit? What are your favorites?
A little—though it can be distracting. Dark chocolate is a favorite. I gave it up for a while because of migraines, but I enjoy it too much.
Ooh! What a hard choice, I might have chosen to suffer through for dark chocolate, too.
What do you drink when you write/edit?
Water, chamomile tea, or seltzer!
A very healthy selection! I’m a huge water drinker myself, so I get that.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you
Write what you know.
I understand this in some sense, but in another sense, it feels very limiting. Writing, and all art, should be where we go to explore what we don’t know.
So true! People who think you should stay grounded in only your experience are very limiting.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice they can pry out of your cold, dead hands
Always carry a notebook/pen.
Inspiration happens in the strangest places, and I often need to write down ideas/lines/images. I know we can do that with phones, too, but for me, I still like doing it old-school. Of course, this doesn’t always work in some places, like the shower, where often the best thoughts come.
I do rely on phones quite a bit, but I like using pen and paper for my world-building notes.
Shameless Self-Promotion time!
Girl Country: And Other Stories
Winner of the Dzanc Short Story Collection Prize
A near-future farmer battling environmental crises takes in a mysterious girl he finds on the roadside. A bus driver navigates through treacherous weather and memories of her tragic past as she races to save children from the end of the world. A woman keeps giving birth to children from different time periods. And a woman struggles with her young daughter mysteriously transforming into something wild and unruly, confronting themes of motherhood and family.
In Girl Country, stories range from medieval Belgium to the near-future of the American Midwest, populated by mothers and monsters, mermaids and milkmaids, nuns and bus drivers—women in every walk of life, but particularly working-class women, navigating the intersection of the mundane and the magical. Perfect for fans of Orange World and Animal Wife, these are stories about women with teeth—wild and alive.