A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Karen Steiger

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Karen: I fell in love with writing as a young child, starting with an illustrated biography of our family cat, Garfield, which sent me to the Young Authors’ Conference in 3rd grade. (I’ve always been a sucker for any kind of conference or convention.) The following year, a creative writing class with Ms. Jancose continued to ignite my passion. I started writing terrible novels, which led to slightly better stories and first chapters of novels written throughout my life. I only seriously started exploring poetry in 2017 when my friend Amanda Dickson started a poetry writing group. My first influences included C.S. Lewis, Roald Dahl, Beverly Cleary and Star Trek.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Karen: My biggest influence today, not just in art but in life in general, is Monty Python.

Amazon.com: Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Special Edition): Graham  Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Michael Palin,  Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, Mark Forstater, Michael White, Michael White  Productions;

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing/art? Have any travels away from home influenced work/describe?

Karen: I grew up in Northwest Indiana, in a small town called Griffith, in the shadow of Chicago and undoubtedly in a cloud of pollution from our oil refineries and steel mills. (I’m sure riding my bike in the wake of the town’s mosquito fogger truck didn’t help either!) Nevertheless, it was a great place to grow up in the 1980s as a free-range kid. It’s a region of hard workers who battle lake effect snowstorms and mid-summer heatwaves and the disdain of Illinois city-dwellers and fellow Hoosiers alike. I also felt like an outsider during much of my adolescence as a small, nerdy bookworm with absolutely no athletic ability. I think that this upbringing helped me to develop my ambition and perseverance, the latter being the most important quality in a writer/poet. I’ve been a huge Anglophile for most of my life (see: Monty Python obsession), so one of my most influential trips was a six-week study-abroad program in London when I was 19. I’ve written a number of pieces about London and that trip in particular, including “Maida Vale,” which was published by the Wells Street Journal in 2019. https://t.co/YwQVYiCsgK?amp=1

Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?

Karen: The most meaningful work that I’ve done creatively so far is explore my breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. I have a full-length collection about this experience that I am starting to shop around for publication, and I hope that someday it can provide comfort and some humor for someone facing the same experience. Here is a link to “Mastectomy,” published at Sledgehammer Lit, as an example. https://t.co/G6aAwf3Xoy?amp=1

Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer/artist?

Karen: When I joined my friend Amanda’s poetry writing group, I was honestly intending to spend that time to continue to wrestle with the novel I had been working on. But when she read out our first poetry prompt, the words just started pouring out of me with a joy and abandon that I hadn’t experienced while writing in a long, long time. With fiction writing, I often felt like a penguin trying to fly. But with poetry writing, I feel like a penguin swimming. (Even though I’m expecting at any moment for someone to tell me I’m not writing poetry correctly.)

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Karen: To be honest, I spend a lot of my free time scrolling through Facebook and Twitter. But I love to play mountain dulcimer and have found a very special community of musicians in my classes at the Old Town School of Folk Music. I also enjoy reading, volunteering with my local greyhound rescue group, Greyhounds Only, forest walks, and learning foreign languages.

Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects you’d like to promote?

Karen: I always like to refer people to my blog, The Midlife Crisis Poet, where you can find a lot of my work and a list of my publications. http://themidlifecrisispoet.com

I also would like to direct people to recent publications at Bombfire Lit, and two poems will soon appear in Journal of Erato’s “Coming of Age” issue: https://t.co/sylgxC3Nyj?amp=1

Q8: What is a favorite line from one of your poems/writings or others?

Karen: One of my favorite lines that I’ve written appears in “A Bit of a Meltdown” in Crow and Cross Keys. “I casually disemboweled myself the other day/ in front of a crowd of people.” https://t.co/06isyfWGL5?amp=1

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Karen: I have to thank my writing friends, especially Amanda Dickson, Melissa Kramer, Emily Patterson-Kane, Jesse William Olson, Raymond Wlodkowski, Padraig Johnston, for their thoughtful reading and feedback.

Links:

Twitter: @maisedawg

By davidlonan1

David writes poetry, short stories, and writings that'll make you think or laugh, provoking you to examine images in your mind. To submit poetry, photography, art, please send to feversofthemind@gmail.com. Twitter: @davidLOnan1 + @feversof Facebook: DavidLONan1

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