with Christine Sloan Stoddard:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Christine: I first started writing in childhood. From a young age, I loved to write and illustrate my stories, even making small books and magazines by stapling sheets of paper together. I kept diaries and journals, too, but I always wanted an audience for my work, whether it was my siblings and classmates or the world. Some of my first influences included Beatrix Potter, Beverly Cleary, Eric Carle, Joanna Cole, Shel Silverstein, Marissa Moss, Barbara Joosse, Richard Scarry, and others. I also adored cartoons, films, theatre, and other art forms. Nature and world cultures greatly influenced me from a young age, too.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Christine: This is always tough to answer. I adore the work of Sally Mann, Sofia Coppola, Kukuli Velarde, Stacey Steers, Maggie Nelson, and Kara Walker. I’m not sure I would call them direct influences, but I do treasure their creations. And there’s the work of others, too; those just happen to be the ones that first came to mind today.
Q3: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer/artist?
Christine: I seemed to have always known. I definitely had teachers and other mentors who encouraged me and others who tried to sway me toward something else. I had more than one say that I could always pursue my writing and art in my “free time,” but that choosing it as a profession meant living the life of a starving artist. Those with that mentality greatly underestimated my resourcefulness. Certainly, I have not always used my skills as a writer and artist to write and create exactly what I have wanted in order to pay the bills. Sometimes the client wins. There have been articles I didn’t want to write or photos I didn’t want to edit a particular way, for example. But I will always have my art, the things made just for me and my intended audience. That’s a part of me that will always survive and persevere.
Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?
Christine: My mother, just with her encouragement alone. She doesn’t have any industry connections, unless you count me now but she helped me get to where I am. She facilitated my love affair with books and libraries. When I was younger and just getting started as a professional writer, she would pass along the names of magazines and even find contact information for editors. She still regularly recommends books to me, sometimes with a professional angle in mind. She pays attention to publishers. Though she doesn’t have as much formal education as she would like, she does possess natural curiosity and an extended personal reading list. Sometimes I think her lack of industry experience actually emboldened her to tell me to contact publishers and editors I had no business contacting. But I did and it ultimately helped me get to where I am now. My mother has always believed in me. I’m also lucky to have a very encouraging husband, who continues the work my mother started.
Q5: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing & have any travels away from home influence your work?
Christine: I grew up in Arlington, VA to a New Yorker father and Salvadoran mother. This made me the first in my family to be born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area. I also studied in Iowa, Scotland, France, and Mexico. I did artist residencies in rural Maryland, Pittsburgh, Knoxville, and El Salvador, plus my home states of Virginia and New York. I lived in Richmond, VA for five years and have now lived in New York City for the same amount of time. I don’t know that I could separate my work from my travels or unusual living scenarios. I certainly have no desire to do so.
Q6: What do you consider your most meaningful work youv’e done creatively so far to you?
It’s a tie between:
Desert Fox by the Sea (book)
Mi Abela, Queen of Nightmares (play within the book Two Plays)
Sirena’s Gallery (feature film)
Q7: Favorite activities to relax?
Christine: Taking a bubble bath while reading or watching a movie or listening to music while lounging in bed. I enjoy spending time outdoors, too, though that often requires a bit of planning since I live in Brooklyn. Luckily, I live near Prospect Park, so at least some foliage is always accessible. I’m just about always down for a walk!
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem/writing of yours or others?
Here are two short stanzas from my poem “The Storm”:
“No one told me
was an earthquake,
That my body
was and will always be
the eye of the storm.
They only told me
that I was a woman,
that I was to be
placid as a lake—
yet how can I be
human if I never
thunder, if I never rain?”
And here’s a recent piece, “Jaguar Mask,” on view at the Howard County Council for the Arts in Maryland starting Aug. 21st:
Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects you’d like to promote?
Sirena’s Gallery, an independent feature film about a Salvadoran-American woman’s struggle as an art gallery owner after losing her husband to suicide. It will screen at the Byrd Theatre in Richmond, VA on Aug. 27th. Find out more about future screenings and streaming here.
Cyber Cinderella, a comedy play about Cinderella during the digital age, opening at the Broadway Comedy Club in New York City. It will premiere October 10th. Buy your ticket here.
https://amzn.to/3snXGFH for “Force Fed”
https://amzn.to/3CRtKXz for “Desert Fox By The Sea”
https://amzn.to/3g6WYaW for “Heaven is a Photograph”
https://amzn.to/37NygrO for “Belladonna Magic”
https://amzn.to/2VYhof4 for “Hello New York – The Living and Dead”
website is www.worldofchristinestoddard.com.
Christine Sloan Stoddard (she/her)
Feature Film: Sirena’s Gallery
Play Tickets: “Cyber Cinderella”
Current Exhibition: “Resiliencia”
New Book: Heaven Is a Photograph
Boss Lady: Quail Bell Press & Productions