A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Meg Tuite

1: When did you start writing and whom influenced you the most now and currently?

Meg: I was a kid when I started writing. The beauty in that is that a kid does not edit, attain writer’s block, stop, unless lunch is ready or Mom made cookies. My mom was definitely my influence! She was a librarian. Our house was filled with books and she read every one. Then each book was passed down from oldest to youngest. She had five kids who were all obsessed, invested in reading.

Currently, I find poets and a few non-narrative writers the most inspiring. Here are a few:

Bruno Schulz, Janet Frame, Anne Sexton, Clarice Lispector, Garielle Lutz, Morgan Parker, Dominique Christina, Jeanette Winterson, Lidia Yuknavitch, Lucia Berlin, Olivia Laing, Kate Braverman, Tove Ditlevson….

There’s never an end to the list.

2: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Meg: My mom bought me a desk for 5 bucks from the local grade school’s rummage sale. I sat there daily. She told me I had been writing a novel about a kid running away. I would love to see that rambling run of sentences. Nothing exists, but her memory of it. I had a book in my arms wherever we went. Our family wasn’t so much talkers, as readers.

3: Who has helped you most with writing and career?

Meg: I was living with my mom when she died in her early 60’s in Santa Fe. I needed escape. My older brother was teaching in Montreal so I rode tripped out there and he gave me a place to stay and some cash to eat. I went to the library every day and wrote/read for 5 or so hours. It was calming for me and engaging at the time. Another route to honing in on emotional constipation.

4: Where did you grow up and how did that influence you? Have any travels influenced your work?

Meg: I grew up in Chicago and yes, I’ve been working on a novel for over 10 years on aspects of it. Still fiction, but there are what feel like authentic moments. I have traveled quite a bit and now have lived in Santa Fe, NM for over 30 years, but still go back to the roots. Chicago is the heartbeat of my writing.

5: What do you consider your most meaningful work creatively to you?

Meg: My books. I have published five story collections and five chapbooks of poetry/hybrid/poetic prose collections. It’s definitely where my head is at when I want to produce something.

6: Favorite activities to relax?

Meg: Reading, kissing on and walking my dogs, and I’m a serial napper with 4 cats and 3 dogs spread out around me.

7: What is a favorite line/ stanza/lyric from your writing?

Meg: “But then time was its own sorcerer, sealed with the blood of whole civilizations that rose up and buried themselves in the bitter song of a single hour, and one could remember almost anything if they looked back far enough.” –Meg Tuite, Bound By Blue

8:  What kind of music inspires you the most? What is a song or songs that always come back to you as an inspiration?

I hope you don’t mind if I give you a few YouTube links of some ‘time triggers’!

The Roches – Hammond Song

Hurray For The Riff Raff- St. Roch’s Blues

Buffalo Springfield: For What It’s Worth

Nina Simone: Ain’t Got No, I Got Life

9: Do you have any recent or upcoming books, music, events, projects that you would like to promote?

Meg: My latest collection is titled WHITE VAN published by Unlikely Books (New Orleans) in March 2022:

Blurbs for WHITE VAN:

Gorgeously brutal, jaggedly mattering, Meg Tuite’s incantations crackle with the clarities of a true visionary.  White Van treats the trample and grime of trauma with cleansing ecstasies of language.  This book will turn you inside out. –Garielle Lutz, author of Worsted

Meg Tuite takes us into the dark hallways of American life with this harrowing, incredible collection of prose. Women, children rise to rattle the walls, rub fire into the “cold cases.” Pronouns shift, images scald, memories glimmer near “some shrieking puck of a moon”; a blanket, a pillow, a muffled scream. This book ruptures the silence with language that holds a knife between its verbs. “We rock handjobs and blowjobs in the dark from boys who buy movie tickets,” Tuite writes, and we are left to wonder if the price of entry for women in this country has always been too much, too much. A monster of a book for the silence of the monsters in us. I can’t recommend it enough. –Alina Stefanescu, author of Dor

Tuite’s White Van is a work of startling lucidity. She captures the myriad of frightening, familiar figures who stalk lunch counters and verge on small town edges in masterful language. This is elbow to the mouth, a merciless howl in the face of a world given up on the Disney version of fairytales. Tuite’s characters persist in the reveries of the loner. Buy this book. She knows her beat, this appalling world of solitary pathos. It is a starkly eruptive world of words beyond death, beyond decay. – Clementine E Burnley, poet, reader, writer

The poems in White Van grind and seethe, creep sweltering out from the backseat of the van. With razor tension, Tuite circles the globe of abuse, trauma, and what it is to dissociate from violence inflicted upon the self. This is a hammer-hard voice, decisive in its ability to smash together the tragic and familiar, the familial and societal, language of both predator and survivor. A raw and urgent collection, steady in its honesty, as present in its performance as a siren. –Colin Pope, author of Why I Didn’t Go To Your Funeral.

White Van is in Tuite’s terms a “predarectomy” – the removal of the predator. The book follows the “endless line of girls” who have “stepped here before.  She never realized how easy it was to disappear.”   We climb inside the white van and come face to face with terror: the serial killer rapist – his family – his victims and the writer who is able to create “conflict, action, and resolution in each scene. A story must parade in this order across the well-eaten page.  This is exactly what Tuite does – each chapter is its own seamless chilling narrative – and we are there with the speaker riding inside the White Van, a witness to evil.  “Blood on paper is a bad joke,” but this collection of fiction and poetry is both remarkable and disturbing.  White Van is a book you can’t put down, a book you will forever remember.

–Annie Pluto, author of The Deepest Part of Dark.

“I’m convinced nobody on earth writes with quite the same level of passion, verve, candor, dark humor, electric intensity, and HEART as Meg Tuite. I’ve pronounced this collection my favorite of her works (and I have a bunch of them). Why? It’s the experience of reading it. You read the first sentence. Stop. Read it again. Shake your head. Read it out loud. Marvel. Feel. Look out the window. Read the whole tiny piece (a poem? a story? you’ve long since stopped categorizing these stunning mash-ups). Whisper: damn. You gasp, you sigh. You read more. You start to gobble these. You mark ones to go back to. Realize you’ve marked them all. A master, a maestro, Tuite is the kind of writer who can balance a jetliner-sized story on the tender tip of a blade of grass and not you or I or anyone else has a clue how she does it. Get. This. Book.” ~Kathy Fish, author of Wild Life: Collected Works

I will be reading from WHITE VAN and other work at the Chicago Sunday Salon on September 22, 2022 at 7PM at The Reveler in Roscoe Village.

Bonus Question: Any funny memory or strange occurrence you’d like to share during your creative journey?

Meg: The first time I read “Creep” aloud was here in Santa Fe. It’s a story out of my collection ‘Bound By Blue’. This guy, who I’d never met before, came up to me and said, “How the hell did you write my father? That was him, every part of it.” He was crying and I was blown away. The amazing beauty of a deep connection with a stranger is everything to me. He said he was going to write his memoir that he’d been afraid to write before then. That is as HUGE as it gets for me. I will never forget that. He is now writing that memoir! And I’m thankful the protagonist in “Creep” didn’t come off as two-dimensional. I believe we humans carry our loads of fear, grief, and trauma, but also love and connect with some more than others.

Here is the link to CREEP:

Bio: Meg Tuite is author of a novel-in-stories, Domestic Apparition (San Francisco Bay Press), a short story collection, Bound By Blue, (Sententia Books) Meet My Haze (Big Table Publishing), White Van (Unlikely Books), won the Twin Antlers Collaborative Poetry award from (Artistically Declined Press) for her poetry collection, Bare Bulbs Swinging, Grace Notes (Unknown Press), as well as five chapbooks of short fiction, flash, poetic prose, and multi-genre. She teaches workshops and online classes through Bending Genres and is an associate editor at Narrative Magazine. Her work has been published in over 600 literary magazines and over fifteen anthologies including: Choose Wisely: 35 Women Up To No Good. She has been nominated over 15 times for the Pushcart Prize, won first and second place in Prick of the Spindle contest, five-time finalist at Glimmer Train, finalist of the Gertrude Stein award and 3rd prize in the Bristol Short Story Contest. She is also the editor of eight anthologies. She is included in the Best Small Fictions of 2021, and Wigleaf’s Top 50 stories of 2022. Her blog: http://megtuite.com

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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