Goodnight Stranger

The Dipper - September 2019

"The Dipper" is our monthly newsletter, where we highlight readings, events, calls for submission, and other literary-related news for the coming month. If you have news or events to share, let us know

 

September News

Welcome to September! We hope you all had a good August, read some books, attended a reading or two, and maybe even wrote a thing or two. Although we took August off from writing The Dipper, that doesn’t mean we were lazing in our hammocks. Oh no. We’ve been up to stuff…

Our first Poetry & Pie in 2017 was just our third event and it was a major leap for this fledgling organization. We learned a lot that first time out and Poetry & Pie II was even better. But, you know, we think that this year’s Poetry & Pie was our best one yet! We owe much of the day’s success to the many talented, patient, and energetic people who help make our literary dreams come true. Our grateful thanks to all of you for making this event not only possible but perfect. We can’t wait to do it all again with you next summer!

As if Poetry & Pie weren’t amazing enough on its own, the day also marked the release of our first Little Dipper chapbook, Half-Fabulous Whales, by Rena J. Mosteirin. Little Dippers are produced as limited editions of 25, numbered and signed. They have letterpressed covers and are hand-stitched with linen thread that matches the cover’s ink color. Creating these books has been a dream of ours for some time and we’re thrilled with how they’ve turned out. We’re busy working on the second edition, an essay by Ben Cosgrove, which we intend to release by the end of the year. Although Edition 1 is sold out, you can visit the Little Dipper page for more information about the Little Dipper series and to download a free digital version of Half-Fabulous Whales.

One of our favorite things about the Slow Club Book Club is that we really are slow… and quiet. Sometimes we hear from members about their thoughts about the current book, but, even when we don’t, we really enjoy knowing you’re all out there, reading along at your own pace. We recently sent a check-in newsletter to members about the current book, Tove Jansson’s The Woman Who Borrowed Memories. We’ll soon be announcing our final book in our year of Women in Translation. Visit our Slow Club Book Club page for more information.

Have you heard about Ducks, Newburyport, by Lucy Ellmann, which has been longlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize? The Guardian says this “1000-page monologue of an angst-ridden US homemaker fretting about love, loss and the state of the nation is an unabashed triumph.” Already released in the UK and coming out on September 10 in the US, this book is really calling to us. In fact, we have a crazy idea: let’s read this behemoth together! We’re still finalizing the plan, but the general idea is to work our way through the book at a steady pace of about 50 pages a week starting on September 20. If you’re up for the challenge, sign up for the Ducks, Newburyport Read Along and we’ll be in touch on September 10 with more details.

September, Schmeptember! It’s still summer in our our hearts, which means you still have time to complete your Adult Summer Reading Bingo card and claim your “Still North, Still Reading” tote bag from Allie Levy of Still North Books & Bar (opening later this year in Hanover, New Hampshire). To play, just download the card, and note the books you’ve read that match the card’s categories. Once you have “bingo,” take a photo of your completed card and email it to hi@stillnorthbooks.com. You’ll win a “Still North, Still Reading” tote!

Speaking of summer, we’ve been busy collecting and sharing summer reading lists on our blog. Check out the lists from Allie Levy of Still North Books & Bar; Becky Karush, creator and host of the READ TO ME podcast; writer and musician Ben Cosgrove; Angela Evancie, host of the Brave Little State podcast; Christopher Hermelin and Drew Broussard of the So Many Damn Books podcast; reader, writer, and book lover P. T. Smith; and Katherine Forbes Riley, author of The Bobcat. If you can’t find a book in all those lists to carry you into October, we need to know!

Miciah Bay Gault’s debut novel, Goodnight Stranger, came out on July 30 to much acclaim (in fact, The New York Times just included Goodnight Stranger in their The Shortlist column). Miciah, who teaches in the MFA in Writing & Publishing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts and coordinates the Vermont Book Award, graciously answered all our questions about her book and her writing process in an interview on our blog.

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When Becky Karush, creator and host of the READ TO ME podcast, asked us to suggest a book for her podcast, we didn't hesitate! Mary Ruefle's Madness, Rack, and Honey is one of our favorites. We love the way Becky found her way into this book, which she initially found challenging. As she put it, “How do you read work that makes you feel... stupid?…It moves faster than I can catch. I get wavery inside. I slap up walls between me and the work to protect myself — and I am lost. This is why Mary Ruefle's MADNESS, RACK, AND HONEY is a gift.” While you’re on the READ TO ME site, check out the other episodes too; you’re sure to find an episode that appeals to your reading tastes.


September’s Shooting Stars

A cool literary find from each of us to help light up your month!

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September Highlights

On Thursday, September 5, a group of New England Poets will gather at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, New Hampshire, to read from the recently published Except for Love: New England Poets Inspired by Donald Hall. The reading by Matt Forrest Esenwine, Kyle Potvin, Scott T. Hutchison, Jessica Purdy, Andrew Periale, and James Fowler begins at 6:00 pm.

Sydney Lea

Sydney Lea

On Friday, September 6 at 6:00 pm, you have a difficult choice: either catch former Poet Laureate of Vermont Sydney Lea reading from Here, his thirteenth poetry collection, at the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vermont, or see award-winning poet Phillip Williams reading at the Frost Stone House Museum in Shaftsbury, Vermont.

David Shields, Rita Banerjee, and Frances Cannon kick off the Vermont College of Fine Arts Fall 2019 Reading Series at Cafe Anna on the VCFA campus in Montpelier, Vermont, on Wednesday, September 11. The series continues on Friday, September 27, with readings by Janaka Stucky, Miciah Bay Gault, and Erin Stalcup. All readings begin at 5:30 pm.

Sue Burton

Sue Burton

Also on Wednesday, September 11, Madeline ffitch is reading from her new and widely acclaimed novel, Stay and Fight, at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, New Hampshire, at 6:00 pm.

Poets Sue Burton and Sara London are reading at the Fleming Museum of Art on Thursday, September 12, in Burlington, Vermont, as part of the Painted Word Poetry Series. The reading begins at 7:00 pm.

Patrick Donnelly ends this year’s Hyla Brook Reading Series with a reading on Thursday, September 12, at 6:30 pm, at The Frost Farm in Derry, New Hampshire.

Chen Chen. Photo by Jess Chen

Chen Chen. Photo by Jess Chen

The AVA Gallery’s quarterly story-telling series, The Mudroom, returns on Thursday, September 12, in Lebanon, New Hampshire, with the theme “Breaking the Rules.” Food is available for purchase starting at 6:30 pm. The storytelling begins at 7:00 pm. Tickets go quickly for this event, so grab yours soon.

The 5th Annual New Hampshire Poetry Festival is on Saturday, September 14, at New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire. This year’s festival features headline reader Ilya Kaminsky. Workshop leaders are Chen Chen, Patrick Donnelly, Maudelle Driskell, and Joan Houlihan. Visit the Festival website for more information and to register.

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison

Join a community celebration of Toni Morrison at 118 Elliot in Brattleboro, Vermont, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm on Saturday, September 14. The event will feature local writers and community members reading the work of Ms. Morrison, followed by an open mic for others to share brief statements, quotes and favorite lines by the author.

The Kent’s Corner annual Words Out Loud series begins on Sunday, September 15, with readings by novelist Susan Ritz and poet Sue Burton. The series continues on September 22 with Rick Winston and Elizabeth A. I. Powell, and on September 29 with Daniel Lusk and Janet Pocorobba. All readings take place at the Old West Church in Calais, Vermont, and begin at 3:00 pm.

Best-selling author Emma Donoghue (Room) presents her latest novel, Akin, at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, New Hampshire, at 6:00 pm on Thursday, September 19.

On Wednesday, September 25, see novelist Rachel Lyon read as part of Bennington College’s Fall Literature Readings. The reading will be held in Franklin House on the Bennington campus from 7:00 to 8:00 pm.

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The Burlington Book Festival arrives on the scene September 27 to 29 at various locations in the Queen City including The Fletcher Free Library and Contois Auditorium. Garret Keizer gives the inaugural reading and the festival is dedicated to Governor Madeleine Kunin. Other participating authors include Peter Money, Nancy Richardson, Megan Price, and Emily Bernard. This year’s Festival features “Says You! The Inside Story,” a special benefit event. Please visit the Festival website for the full schedule of events.

Visit our calendar for detailed information about these events and more!

 

Worth a Drive

  • Amherst Poetry Festival - September 19 to 22 in Amherst, Massachusetts. The Festival kicks off with a block party and poetry slam on September 19. Workshops, readings by Paisley Rekdal, Adrian Matejka, Paige Lewis, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Melanie Goodreaux, and Alicia Mountain, and more. Plus the annual Emily Dickinson Poetry Marathon, a one-day reading of all 1,789 of Emily Dickinson’s poems!

  • BLK FMNNST Loaner Library 1989–2019, Mass MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts - September 25 (also meets November 7 and December 5) - A community book club facilitated by Gwendolyn Van Sant. The book for the September event is Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler.

 

Worth a Listen

We’ve been saving up podcast episodes since we didn’t have an August Dipper. Here’s a bunch of truly riveting conversations for you!

  • Max Porter discussing his novel, Lanny, with David Naimon on Between the Covers was quite memorable and fantastic.

  • Don’t miss Aimee Nezhukumatathil with Franny Choi and Danez Smith on the VS podcast.

  • Mira Jacob on So Many Damn Books!

  • Local author Peter Orner on KCRW’s Bookworm discusses his latest, Maggie Brown & Others, with Michael Silverblatt. And while you are over at Bookworm, don’t miss the conversation with Ocean Vuong all about proximity.

  • Julia Phillips discusses the inspiration for her debut, Disappearing Earth, with Maris Kreizman on The Maris Review.

  • Sarah Broom’s conversation with Paul Holdengraber on A Phone Call From Paul was so inspiring. Her book, The Yellow House, is at the top of our stack.

 

We're Looking Forward to These September Releases


Calls For Submission and Upcoming Deadlines

MacDowell Colony Winter/Spring 2020 Residency
Applications open mid July for the Winter/Spring 2020 residency season (February 1 through May 31) in Peterborough, New Hampshire. A Fellowship consists of exclusive use of a private studio, accommodations, and three prepared meals a day for two weeks to two months. Applications must include a description of your proposed project, a letter of reference, and information about your artistic work such as education, training, and artistic achievements, as well as examples of current work. There is a $30 non-refundable application processing fee.
Deadline: September 15 | Details

Northern Woodlands Conference
Register now to attend this year’s Northern Woodlands Conference (October 18-20) at the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vermont. The conference is a fun, informal weekend and vibrant mix of speakers. This year’s gathering includes natural history talks, readings, writing workshops, and hands-on experiences, from nature journaling to photography to late-season bee lining! Featuring presentations by David Carroll, Chris Maynard, Laurel Symes, Wyatt Oswald, and a special celebration in honor of Northern Woodland’s 25 anniversary. $225 to $425.
Deadline: September 30 | Details

“Poems of New Hampshire” Poetry Contest
This contest, sponsored by the Peterborough Poetry Project, is open to anyone living in, visiting, or intrigued by New Hampshire may enter by writing and submitting up to three original unpublished poems on the theme of "New Hampshire, past, present, future, or fantasy." The writers of the first-, second-, and third-place poems will win $75, $35, and $25, respectively.
Deadline: September 30 | Details

SNHU Mountainview Low-Residency MFA in Fiction and Nonfiction
Applications are open for the January 2020 cohort. You will spend two years honing your skills in a small cohort of students, learning from national best-selling and award-winning authors, and receiving personal consultation from leading agents and editors. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. $40 application fee.
Deadline: October 1 | Details

Hunger Mountain Issue 24: Patterns
General submissions are open in prose and poetry on the theme of patterns. Work must not have been published before, including online.
Deadline: October 15 | Details

Lifelines Magazine
Accepting submissions of original and unpublished short stories, nonfiction, poetry, and artwork for their 2020 issue. While they consider a broad spectrum of subject matter for publication, they are looking for pieces that speak to the experience of medicine in some way.
Deadline: October 31 | Details

Tupleo Press’s Sunken Garden Chapbook Poetry Prize
Now accepting submissions for the annual poetry prize for adult writers. This year’s prize is judged by Cornelius Eady. The Sunken Garden Chapbook Poetry Prize includes a cash award of $1,000 in addition to publication by Tupelo Press, 25 copies of the winning title, an introductory reading at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, a book launch, and national distribution with energetic publicity and promotion.
Deadline: October 31 | Details

Bloodroot Literary Magazine
Submissions are open for Bloodroot, Volume 12. Send three to five pages of poetry or 10 to 12 pages of fiction and nonfiction in Microsoft Word format. For other work, like an experimental form or digital project, please send a one-page proposal and they will be in touch if they want to see more. They are looking for new, unpublished work.
Deadline: December 31 | Details

Center for Cartoon Studies, MFA Degree and Certificate Programs
Now accepting applications for the MFA, one- and two-year certificate programs, and low-residency second-year option. Learn all you need to know about making comics and self-publishing in a prolific and dynamic environment and community. $50 application fee.
Deadline: rolling admissions until programs are filled | Details

Junction Magazine
Junction Magazine founder James Napoli has moved to Minneapolis. With his blessing, a local collective has decided to re-launch the magazine, and they invite you to contribute. Pitches and submissions should fit into one or several categories/subject areas: arts and culture, food and farm, people, wild, photo essays, and the calendar.
Deadline: rolling submissions | Details


Upcoming Workshops and Classes

Pioneer Valley Writers’ Workshop One-Day Craft Classes and Multi-Week Workshops
Starting September 7
The Pioneer Valley Writers’ Workshop hosts a series of one-day craft classes and multi-week workshops throughout the fall. Class topics include nonfiction writing, fiction character development, writing about the body, writing dialogue, memoir writing, short story writing, poetry revision, and more.
Location: Williamsburg, Massachusetts | Cost: $60-$350 | Details

Igniting Creativity with James Crews
Saturdays starting September 7, 1:00 to 3:30 pm

Many of us have the idea that poetry is some abstract, inaccessible craft reserved for those in obscure academic circles. As this workshop will reveal, however, beautiful and moving poetry can emerge from the details of everyday life. Each week, we will work from examples and prompts that invite us to turn the so-called ordinary objects, images and memories of our lives into fuel for extraordinary art that reaches out and touches others. All skill levels are welcome.
Location: Equinox Village, Manchester, Vermont | Cost: $75 | Details

Writing Intensive: Drafting, Developing, and Revising Your Work with Joni Cole
September 8, 9:30 am to 12:30 pm

Writers face a lot of very real challenges, from the intimidation of a blank page, to a sense of staleness during the drafting process, to a dearth of quality feedback. During this interactive workshop, we’ll cover techniques of narrative craft essential to empowering your prose. You’ll find your muse (and likely not where you expected). And you’ll get instructive feedback to help you write forward productively. Open to new and seasoned writers serious about making progress. Space is very limited.
Location: Writer’s Center of White River Junction, Vermont | Cost: $115 | Details

Writing Ecopsychology: Nature Writing and Personal Narrative with Carly Wynn
Sundays, September 8 to 29, 1:00 to 2:30 pm

The natural world provides ample opportunity to connect with our creative selves. Words can be harnessed to capture the essence of our most profound experiences in nature, and to share those experiences with readers. This class is an opportunity to take a deep dive into personal experiences in nature and their link to the emotional currents of our lives. No prior ecopsychology experience necessary, though participants should come prepared to write about their experiences in nature and how these experiences link to personal or universal themes.
Location: Writer’s Center of White River Junction, Vermont | Cost: $145 | Details

OSHER @Dartmouth Fall Term
September 16 to November 15
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Dartmouth is a volunteer, non-profit (501c3) organization that provides educational programs year-round for residents in the greater Upper Valley and North Haverhill. The coming term offers a variety of classes in writing and literature, including classes on James Joyce’s Ulysses, writing and telling the well-told story, reading graphic novels, Shakespeare, John Updike, participating in writing circles, and writing poetry. Classes are open to members only ($70 annual fee).
Location: Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire | Cost: $40 to $80 | Details

Introduction to Bookbinding: Making a Pamphlet with Deborah Howe
September 9, 5:00 to 6:30 pm

In this workshop you will make single signature, pamphlets with covered boards and possibly double signature pamphlets. Variations of pamphlet binding, tool cleaning, and brush cleaning will also be reviewed.
Location: Dartmouth Book Arts Workshop, Hanover, New Hampshire | Cost: free | Details

Practicing Non-Judgement: A Meditation and Writing Retreat with Jeffrey Slayton and Joni Cole
September 20, 5:30 to 8:00 pm

As humans, part of our mind’s natural capacity is to analyze and try to make sense of our experience. When this process is unconscious we can have a tendency for our analysis to turn into habitual judgement of others and ourselves. This workshop offers participants the opportunity to practice ways of letting go of blame and judgment; to shift our minds into a more open, supportive, and tranquil space. During this retreat we will practice sitting and walking meditation. We also will write from a “prompt,” as a means of inspiring a freedom of expression and rich creative flow. Absolutely no meditation or writing experience is required to attend this retreat.
Location: Shambala Center of White River Junction, Vermont | Cost: free but donations are appreciated | Details

Ways of Re-seeing in Words: Ekphrastic Poetry Workshop with Rick Agran and Karla Van Vliet
September 22, 9:00 to 11:00 am

In this workshop participants select a compelling work of art from the reVision exhibit and seek to celebrate and explore it in words.
Location: Kent Museum, Calais, Vermont | Cost: free | Details

Fall Writing Workshop with Robin MacArthur
Tuesdays, September 24 to October 29, 5:30 to 7:30 pm

This supportive, encouraging and semi-formal workshop is for writers of fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry. Both new and established writers are welcome, though we do have an application process for this intimate session. In this six-week workshop, we will get to know one another and our goals. We will do some generative work, talk a lot about process and some about craft, and create a generous circle of (gentle) feedback.
Location: Word House, Brattleboro, Vermont | Cost: $180 | Details

Writing Memoir: A Sense of Memory with Jenny Gelfan
Thursdays, September 24 to November 12

Our lives are full of stories: comedies, dramas, mysteries, the wonders of everyday moments. This class will guide you to dive in and gather images, sounds, fragrances, feelings, and experiences, that you can capture in words. These fragments together tell a story about each life. The class' focus will be on exploration. You will write from prompts, have an opportunity to read what others have written, and enjoy each other’s creativity.
Location: AVA Gallery, Lebanon, New Hampshire | Cost: $25 | Details

Sustenance: A Yoga and Expressive Writing Workshop with Deb Heimann and Joni Cole
September 28, 12:00 to 3:00 pm

In this intimately-sized three-hour “retreat” we welcome all who wish to reap the warmth and sustenance within ourselves, as a means of preparing for the winter ahead. As part of the yoga experience, we will practice breathing exercises, poses to nourish us, and heart-centered intention. We also will write from a “prompt” as a means of exploring and harvesting our thoughts and feelings on the page and aloud. Absolutely no yoga or writing experience is required to attend this retreat.
Location: Upper Valley Yoga, White River Junction, Vermont | Cost: 55 | Details

Letterpress Intensive Informational Meeting: Bilingual Poetry with Won Chung
September 29, 2:00 to 3:00 pm

The Letterpress Intensive workshop is offering an opportunity to explore letterpress typography by typesetting and printing poetry interlined with its translation in a second language and typeface. Participants will learn about historic typefaces and how to hand set and print a short poem of their choice using movable metal type. At the end of this introductory session, attendees can decide if they would like to register to participate in this workshop. Subsequent sessions will be held on Sunday afternoons from 2:00 to 5:00 pm through the term.
Location: Dartmouth Book Arts Workshop, Hanover, New Hampshire | Cost: free | Details

The Art of Writing: The Power of Visual Media in Storytelling
September 28, 8:30 am to 3:15 pm
The League of Vermont Writers’ fall Gathering. Details are still being finalized. Check their website for more information.
Location: St. Albans Historical Society & Museum, St. Albans, Vermont | Cost: $47 non-members, $32 members | Details

Family, Memory, Place: Writing Family Stories with Maura MacNeil
September 29, 3:00 to 4:00 pm

What family stories do you carry with you? What story do you tell over and over? What landscape do you cherish the most? One of the deepest human instincts is to tell our life stories, to figure out who we are and what it means to be human. This interactive workshop explores how the landscapes of our lives shape the stories that we tell. Participants explore the themes of family, memory, and place through sample narratives and a series of short writing exercises, gaining a deeper awareness of how their stories can preserve personal, generational, and communal history.
Location: Plainfield Town Hall, Plainfield, New Hampshire | Cost: free | Details

Comics Workshop with Marek Bennett
October 5
Join New Hampshire teaching artist Marek Bennett for a hands-on comics creation lab, featuring basic techniques of cartooning, comics creation, and self-publishing. Learn to create and publish original comics based on primary sources of social justice activism in Vermont and elsewhere. No experience required.
Location: Billings Library at UVM, Burlington, Vermont | Cost: free | Details

Writer’s Workshop with Rick Bass
October 11 to October 13
Writer and activist Rick Bass leads an intensive weekend workshop for up to eight writers who seek to improve their craft. Hands-on group sessions, both mornings and afternoons, will include active workshopping of individual manuscripts and craft-focused discussion. Writers at all levels will find support and challenge for their work. To apply, e-mail up to 15 pages of a manuscript—fiction, poetry or non-fiction—to landskeinfarm@gmail.com. Manuscripts will be reviewed and accepted on a rolling basis. A non-refundable deposit of $375 is due upon acceptance.
Location: Craftsbury Outdoor Center, Craftsbury Commons, Vermont | Cost: $1,250 | Details

Vermont Humanities Council Fall Conference
November 15 to 16

Registration is open for the 2019 Fall Conference, “Searching for Home: Journeys, Quests and Migrations.” The conference includes talks and breakout sessions on the topic of “the search for home.” This year’s plenary speakers include essayist and novelist Kiese Laymon, clarinetist Kina Azmeh, Dr. Hasia Diner from New York University, and professor Carol Dougherty from Wellesley College.
Location: University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont | Cost: $149; $99 for students | Details

Interview: Miciah Bay Gault

We’re so excited to share our interview with Miciah Bay Gault on the occasion of today’s release of her debut novel, Goodnight Stranger. Goodnight Stranger is a beautifully written novel, a literary thriller that will have you wondering from the start who is telling the truth and who is hiding secrets. Set on an island, it’s the perfect summer escapism novel, perfect to take with you to the beach, but equally satisfying if you’re holidaying on your sofa after a long week of work.

Of Goodnight Stranger, George Saunders says, “Somewhere the ghosts of Shirley Jackson and the Henry James of The Turn of the Screw are smiling, because a wildly talented young writer has joined their lineage. What a taut, keenly intelligent, and provocative debut Goodnight Stranger is.”

Thank you so much, Miciah, for answering our questions so thoughtfully. We’re so happy your book is out in the world!

Miciah teaches in the MFA in Writing & Publishing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts and coordinates the Vermont Book Award. She’ll be celebrating her book’s at launch Bear Pond Books this evening (July 30), and will be reading at several Northern New England locations in the coming months, including Gibson’s Bookstore (August 1), Northshire Books (August 10), The Galaxy Bookshop (August 27), Phoenix Bookstore (September 19), and Vermont College of Fine Arts (September 27).


Literary North: We’re always curious how a story begins and how it changes. Did the story in Goodnight Stranger begin with a specific image or idea? How did you find the plot changing as you wrote? Did anything unexpected arise?

Miciah Bay Gault: I read a personal history in The New Yorker years ago—about one couple’s struggle with infertility, which has nothing in the world to do with Goodnight Stranger. In The New Yorker piece the couple kept losing the pregnancies, over and over. They ended up, after years of hope and heartache, with one daughter, and I found myself wondering about the daughter. Did she, as she got older, think about the brothers and sisters she might have had, did she feel a sense of grief, was she haunted by them?

Then I imagined this image: two grown siblings in a doorway, a stranger facing them across the threshold. The air is charged with surprise, with recognition, hope, and danger. One of the siblings says, “It’s him.”

That premise was the starting point. I knew early on that Lydia and Lucas would by the siblings, twins actually, that they’d be in their late 20s, that their lives would be overshadowed by the death of a third sibling in infancy. I knew a stranger was going to show up, someone handsome and charismatic, and also eerily familiar with their home, their family. From there I had to ask myself all kinds of hard questions to find out what the book was really about.

LN: Let’s talk about your writing process. Do you write a messy first draft or do you tend to go sentence by sentence? How many drafts did you go through while writing this book? Are you the type of writer who works at the same time and place every day, or did you have to grab time whenever and wherever you could?

MBG: I’m laughing as I answer this question. I’m pretty sure I wrote 70 or 80 drafts of this novel over fifteen years. Some drafts were major renovations, removing entire characters, and shuffling chapters from one location to another. Some drafts were more concerned with tightening language. I love sentences and spend an inordinate amount of time working on that level, polishing, carving, chiseling.

I’ve been so lucky to have an agent, Jenni Ferrari-Adler of Union Literary, who’s very hands on and who worked on several drafts with me. And my editor Laura Brown at Park Row Books/ HarperCollins, has an amazing editorial eye. After so many years of working alone on the manuscript, it’s been a dream to have a team working with me on the book.

I prefer to write in the morning, riding that first wave of caffeine. I’m very fond of coffee. Sometimes I still manage to write at this time, if my kids sleep in a little, but mostly I write when I can—when the kids are in school, or napping. When I was working full time at Vermont College of Fine Arts, I wrote during lunch breaks, or first thing in the morning on the picnic tables on the college green.

LN: The character Cole is an outsider. He arrives on the island and then insinuates himself into the lives of Lydia and others who grew up on the island. Can you talk a bit about the role of the outsider in your story?

MBG: Writers love to quote John Gardner (although I’ve never actually found the original quote) that there are only two plot variations in fiction: a man goes on a journey, or a stranger comes to town. Obviously, in Goodnight Stranger, I was interested in the latter. I knew I wanted Lydia and Lucas to have a safe, prescribed life, routines that were interrupted by the arrival of the stranger. I wanted Lydia to see herself through the stranger’s eyes. In many ways Goodnight Stranger is the story of siblings who, so mired in grief and longing for the past, never grew up. They’re frozen in time, in a kind of adolescent limbo. Lydia realizes at one point that they’ve never moved the furniture around in their house, never replaced wine glasses that broke decades ago. Baby B is the sibling who died in infancy almost thirty years ago, and his bedroom is still set up for a baby, with teddy bear knobs on the dresser. Cole, the stranger, challenges all their beliefs, everything they thought was true about their family, and ultimately…unsticks time for Lydia and Lucas.

LN: Have you always been an avid fan of literary suspense? Can you share some of your favorite authors—past or present—in the genre?

MBG: I wouldn’t actually say that I’m a fan of literary suspense, and to be honest I’m more than a little surprised that I ended up writing a literary thriller!

I do like page-turners, but that term can be subjective. I consider Pride and Prejudice a page-turner (and I know how it ends because I’ve read it a dozen times!). That said, I’m a devoted fan of Shirley Jackson, whose sentences are exquisite, and whose horror is rich and intricate. Another favorite author is Wilkie Collins, who I would classify as literary suspense.

I respond to books with beautiful sentences and a strong emotional core, and sometimes those books happen to be literary thrillers. Fiction I’ve loved lately include Donna Tartt’s A Secret History, Crystal Hana Kim’s If You Leave Me, Melanie Finn’s The Underneath, and Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties.

LN: What was the most memorable thing you read in the past month?

MBG: I’m riveted by Christina Thompson’s Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia, a nonfiction exploration of how people came to inhabit the Polynesian islands. It’s beautifully written, impeccably structured, and fascinating.

 
Photo by Daryl Burtnett

Photo by Daryl Burtnett

 

The Dipper - July 2019

"The Dipper" is our monthly newsletter, where we highlight readings, events, calls for submission, and other literary-related news for the coming month. If you have news or events to share, let us know 

July News

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We are so delighted to have had the opportunity to interview poet Ron Padgett about his new work, Big Cabin, which comes out on July 2. Written over the course of three autumns in Vermont, Big Cabin includes both poetry and prose, with thoughts on memory, time, aging, and the natural world right outside of his cabin window. We hope you enjoy the book as much as we did. Huge thanks to Ron for agreeing to this interview and to Daley Farr and Timothy Otte at Coffee House Press. To order your copy of Big Cabin, head over to the Coffee House Press shop or your local indie. Check out our interview with Ron in celebration of the book’s release!

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We have a new guest Friday Reads post for you over on our blog, written by Michael Epstein, who reviewed Peter Orner’s new book of short stories, Maggie Brown & Others, which releases on July 2. Thank you so much, Michael, for your review and for wanting to be part of our Friday Reads series. If you love Michael’s review, be sure to check out his blog, BookMarks, which is full of his reading lists and book reviews.

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Allie Levy of Still North Books & Bar (opening in the fall in Hanover, New Hampshire) had a fun idea that we were eager to partner with her on: Adult Summer Reading Bingo! Why should the kids have all of the fun? Adults, put a dent in your summer TBR list this year. To play, just download the card and keep track of the books you’ve read that match the card’s categories. Once you have “bingo,” take a photo of your completed card and email it to hi@stillnorthbooks.com. You’ll win a “Still North, Still Reading” tote!

Did you listen to Vermont Public Radio’s 2019 Summer Book Show? There was a lot of great discussion about books for every taste. If you missed it, get thee to the Vermont Edition archives. A few of Rebecca’s picks made it onto the show!

We’ve announced our third Slow Club Book Club selection of the year and we’ll begin reading on July 1. Head over to the SCBC page on our site to see which short story collection by a woman in translation we’ve chosen. It’s never too late to join us. Just sign up for our Slow Club Book Club newsletter for all of the details, plus a little check-in from us every now and again.

Thank you so much to everyone who has already reserved seats for Poetry & Pie III. We are already filling up! Now is the time to reserve your seats if you are hoping to attend. Imagine sitting in a beautiful Vermont barn watching the barn swallows, eating pie, listening to poetry and music, and drinking cold brew coffee. We can’t imagine a better summer afternoon, can you? We’d love for you to join us.

Once again we’re going to take August off from writing The Dipper. We hope we’ll see many of you at Poetry & Pie, and we hope all of you have a really restful and beautiful month filled with just the right books. We’ll be back in September. Have a great summer!


July’s Shooting Stars

A cool literary find from each of us to help light up your month!

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  • Writer Jami Attenberg hosted 1000 Words of Summer for two weeks last month. As a writer who needed a kick in the pants, I found this so helpful. Bonus advice in the daily dispatches from writers such as Alexander Chee and Celeste Ng. The best part is you can start whenever you can carve out two weeks and access the archives to follow along with the project. —Shari

  • While working on the design of our first Little Dipper chapbook (Rena Mosteirin’s gorgeous half-fabulous whales, coming later this summer), I tested a whole lot of layout tools. One of my favorite finds is Chapbookify, by Verse, home of the excellent weekly poetry playlists. Upload a PDF of your manuscript and Chapbookify speedily generates a two-up, two-sided PDF that’s ready to print and bind. It’s fast, it does what it says it will do, and it’s free. Go forth and create chapbooks!—Rebecca


July Highlights

Cadwell Turnbull

Cadwell Turnbull

Calling all speculative fiction fans! Cadwell Turnbull will be reading at Yankee Bookshop in Woodstock, Vermont, on Monday, July 1 at 6:00 pm. His debut novel, The Lesson, has a rave review on Lit Hub’s Bookmarks.

Howard Norman will be reading from The Ghost Clause on Tuesday, July 2, at 7:00 pm, at Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Vermont. We’ve heard rumors that this will be his last novel. An event not to be missed!

On Tuesday, July 9, at 7:00 pm, Rachel Barenbaum will read from her fabulous historical novel, A Bend in Stars, at the Howe Library in Hanover, New Hampshire. If you missed it, check out our interview with Rachel about her new book.

The always fabulous Canaan Meetinghouse Readings series kicks off on Thursday, July 11 and continues through Thursday, August 1 in Canaan, New Hampshire. We love the beautiful space, the homemade desserts, and the fact that you can borrow a cushion for your wooden pew. Hernan Diaz, Peter Orner, Gregory Pardlo, and more! A highlight of our summer.

Rachel Hadas reads at The Frost Farm in Derry, New Hampshire, as a part of the Hyla Brook Reading Series on Thursday, July 11, at 6:30 pm.

Jaed Coffin

Jaed Coffin

Jaed Coffin will read from his memoir, Roughouse Friday, on Saturday, July 13, at 6:00 pm, at the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vermont.

The annual Tory Hill Author Series launches at the Warner Town Hall in Warner, New Hampshire, this month. Diane Les Bequets begins the series on Saturday, July 13, at 7:00 pm. The series also features Andre Dubus III, John Porter, and Peter Miller.

Rebecca Makkai brings her highly praised novel, The Great Believers, to Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Vermont, on Tuesday, July 16, at 7:00 pm

The third annual Non-Fiction Comics Mini-Fest will be held on Saturday, July 20 at The Saint Albans Museum in Saint Albans, Vermont. The day-long festival features presentations by cartoonists Glynnis Fawkes, Kurt Shaffert, Sara Yahm, Marek Bennett, and others.

The River Poets (Sue Burton, Laura Foley, Pam Harrison, Clyde Watson, and Carol Westberg) will read poetry inspired by Kira Fournier Schore’s sculpture, Split Lady, at the AVA Gallery in Lebanon, New Hampshire, at 1:30 pm on Saturday, July 20.

Lisa Taddeo

Lisa Taddeo

Lisa Taddeo will read from her debut nonfiction book, Three Women, on Thursday, July 26, at 6:00 pm, at Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, Vermont.

The Bookstock Literary Festival, Woodstock, Vermont’s, annual book festival, will be held this year from Friday, July 26 through Sunday, July 28. The festival includes readings by Vievee Francis, Dede Cummings, James Crews, Carolyn Forche, Maggie Smith, Emily Bernard, Ilya Kaminsky, James Dobson, and others; workshops; a book sale; custom poems by Benjamin Aleshire; and plenty more.

Katherine Riley (The Bobcat) and Peter Orner (Maggie Brown & Others) will read on Sunday, July 28 at BigTown Gallery in Rochester, Vermont, at 5:30 pm. If you’ve never attended a reading at BigTown, you should! It’s such an intimate space, filled with beautiful art.

Lucky you, you still have a chance to catch a local reading with Ocean Vuong. He’ll be at Bookstock in Woodstock, Vermont, on Saturday, July 27 at 2:00 pm, and then at The Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vermont, on Sunday, July 28, at 5:30 pm. In the meantime, check out this clip from his appearance on The Seth Meyers show and go buy his book, On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous.

Miciah Bay Gault launches her novel, Goodnight Stranger, on Tuesday, July 30, at 7:00 pm, at Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Vermont. Look for an interview with Miciah on our blog on July 30.

Visit our calendar for detailed information about these events and more!

 

Worth a Drive

  • Get your tickets now to see Colson Whitehead read from his latest novel, The Nickel Boys, at the First Baptist Church of Newton in Newton Center, Massachusetts, on Thursday, July 18 at 7:00 pm.

 

Worth a Listen

  • Start your summer off right by adding Mary Grimm’s story “Back Then” from The New Yorker’s Writer’s Voice podcast to your phone. Listen on your commute to work and think about the summers of your youth.

  • Another fantastic listening experience this month was Teju Cole on On Being.

 

We're Looking Forward to These July Releases

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Calls For Submission and Upcoming Deadlines

MacDowell Colony Winter/Spring 2020 Residency
Applications open mid July for the Winter/Spring 2020 residency season (February 1 through May 31) in Peterborough, New Hampshire. A Fellowship consists of exclusive use of a private studio, accommodations, and three prepared meals a day for two weeks to two months. Applications must include a description of your proposed project, a letter of reference, and information about your artistic work such as education, training, and artistic achievements, as well as examples of current work. There is a $30 non-refundable application processing fee.
Deadline: September 15 | Details

Hunger Mountain Issue 24: Patterns
General submissions are open in prose and poetry on the theme of patterns. Work must not have been published before, including online.
Deadline: October 15 | Details

Lifelines Magazine
Accepting submissions of original and unpublished short stories, nonfiction, poetry, and artwork for their 2020 issue. While they consider a broad spectrum of subject matter for publication, they are looking for pieces that speak to the experience of medicine in some way.
Deadline: October 31 | Details

Center for Cartoon Studies, MFA Degree and Certificate Programs
Now accepting applications for the MFA, one- and two-year certificate programs, and low-residency second-year option. Learn all you need to know about making comics and self-publishing in a prolific and dynamic environment and community. $50 application fee.
Deadline: rolling admissions until programs are filled | Details


Upcoming Workshops and Classes

Fragments of a Great Mystery, A Writing Workshop with Sarah Anderson and Mercy Carbonell
Mondays, July 8 through July 29, 6:00 to 8:45 pm

This Summer Writing Workshop provides a chance to explore the translational and horological power of writing from saved artifacts, preserved objects, the inherited stuff of our lives. Through poetry, lyric reflection, flash fiction and the interweaving of photography, we will unravel what the poet, Philip Levine, called “the fragments of a great mystery.” This workshop is designed for those who “hold everything dear” (John Berger) and want to capture in language the memory, imagination, story, essence of the tactile, physical and tangible. The Workshop Series will culminate in an optional Word Barn reading.
Location: The Word Barn, Exeter, New Hampshire | Cost: $250 | Details

Poetry Workshop with Lee Ann Dalton and Matt W. Miller
Tuesdays, July 9 through July 30, 6:00 to 8:45 pm

In this workshop we will look closely at line, sentence, language, metaphor, and image in an attempt to revise and reshape our poems into stronger versions of themselves. Whether you are working in strict poetic form or testing the boundaries of what a poem can be, our goal will be to work collaboratively and be supportive while at the same time honoring the voice and vision of the individual. Looking at our poems in progress, we will offer suggestions for revisions and use our discussions to perhaps generate new work.
Location: The Word Barn, Exeter, New Hampshire | Cost $250 | Details

The Art of Bookbinding with Jong-Yoon Kim
Thursdays, July 11 to August 1, 6:00 to 9:00 pm

These workshops cover various types of non-adhesive, long-stitch binding techniques such as linking stitches and coptic sewing. If you’ve ever been curious about how to make a book, this is the place to start.
Location: AVA Gallery, Lebanon, New Hampshire | Cost: $230-$270 | Details

Poetry Workshop with Deborah Brown
July 14 / Second Sunday of every Month, 2:00 to 3:00 pm

The workshops are designed to combine lessons and exercises on aspects of craft (image, diction, metaphor) with a small amount of critique and in-group writing. For the novice to the published, 9 to 99 years. Join at the beginning or when you can. Free and all are welcome.
Location: MainStreet BookEnds, Warner, New Hampshire | Cost: free | Details

How to Write More, Write Better, and Be Happier: A Full-Day Retreat with Joni Cole
July 13, 9:30 am to 3:30 pm
This retreat will help you cultivate a healthy and productive creative process that will serve you now, and for the rest of your writing life. You’ll learn tips and techniques to get started and stay motivated. You’ll receive quality instruction on craft. You’ll also find inspiration and generate new material through writing prompts and other forms of sustenance, most notably gathering within a supportive community. As part of the retreat, everyone is encouraged to bring 3-4 pages of writing to share for appreciation and quality critique. Both nervous beginners and seasoned authors are welcome.
Location: Old Clary Farm, Greensboro, Vermont | Cost: $145 | Details

Expressive Writing Workshop with Joni Cole
Monday, July 15, 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
This fun expressive writing workshop invites you to write from a prompt inspired by the photographs of Norwich resident Ros Orford, which will be on display in the Norwich Library’s community room. No writing experience is necessary. Bring a notebook or laptop, and leave all self doubts at the door.
Location: The Norwich Public Library, Norwich, Vermont | Cost: free | Details

Create Comics Workshop with Luke Howard and Jon Chad
July 15 to July 19
This five-day workshop packs in the essentials for producing your own comics. Through lectures, exercises, and group projects, students learn about story structure, page composition, pacing, materials and techniques, character design, environmental drawing, and production. Students collaborate on a comic anthology that they self-publish during the workshop. Create Comics is for both beginner and advanced students age 16 and over.
Location: The Center for Cartoon Studies, WRJ, Vermont | Cost: $1000 | Details

Drawing from the Past, A Nonfiction Comics Workshop with Marek Bennett
Friday, July 19, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
We'll look at basic techniques of cartooning and comics creation, then try our hands at drawing original comics based on primary source texts—including letters, diaries, oral history transcripts and recordings, photographs, and other materials. Our discussions will address elements of readability, historical accuracy, point of view, research, and the responsibilities of the artist as an interpreter of historical narratives. Participants each create 1+ pages of original comics drawn from primary source texts, and go home with the skills necessary to continue their work independently. No experience required!
Location: Saint Albans Museum, Saint Albans, Vermont | Cost: $55-$95 | Details

Mindfulness and Writing Workshop with James Crews
Sunday, July 28, 11:00 am to 1:00 pm
In this generative writing workshop, we'll examine connections between the practice of meditation/mindfulness and the act of writing fearlessly from the heart. Using poems and other written works as prompts, we will complete several exercises that invite us to pay closer attention to ourselves, our lives, and the world around us as we do our best to define the term, "mindfulness," and what that means for each of us.
Location: Northshire Books, Manchester Center, Vermont | Cost: $40 | Details

Graphic Novel Workshop with Paul Karasik
July 29 to August 2 or August 5 to August 9 (waitlisting)
During this week-long, on-campus workshop, students will participate in lectures, collaborative exercises, book discussion sessions, events, and group critiques, with the goal of producing the first draft of a longer comics project.
Location: The Center for Cartoon Studies, WRJ, Vermont | Cost: $1000 | Details

Queer Comics Workshop with Tillie Walden
July 29 to August 2
In this week-long workshop participants will explore the topic of identity in comic stories. This workshop focuses on learning to develop ideas through plotting, drafting, and class discussion. Students will have the opportunity to collaborate and reflect on their work in a group environment. Walden will also be giving lectures on all the relevant comics topics like world-building, character design, productivity, and monetizing your art. There will be enough time for free drawing, along with individual guidance and presentations of the results in the group. This workshop is specifically for queer comic stories!
Location: The Center for Cartoon Studies, WRJ, Vermont | Cost: $1000 | Details

Creating Graphic Novels for the Young Adult Market with Jo Knowles and Tille Walden
August 5 to 9
YALSA award winning author Jo Knowles teams up with Eisner award winning cartoonist Tillie Walden to share their strategies for crafting authentic, relateable teen characters and narratives. This five-day workshop utilizes lectures and exercises to successfully examine the idiosyncrasies of the young adult genre.
Location: The Center for Cartoon Studies, WRJ, Vermont | Cost: $1000 | Details

Talking ‘Bout Your Generation: A Poetry Workshop with BJ Ward
August 18 to 23
The generation of new writing, that is! Each morning, we will discuss a selection of carefully-curated poems to explore what makes them work. Then, we will write to prompts that will push us to create something new. Each afternoon we will convene for feedback sessions that will provide clear and compassionate critique of our new pieces. We will leave New Hampshire with newly-generated poems, and ideas on how to revise them and generate more. Beginning and experienced writers welcome.
Location: Dexter’s Inn, Sunapee, New Hampshire | Cost: $795 | Details

Pioneer Valley Writers’ Workshop One-Day Craft Classes and Multi-Week Workshops
Starting September 7
The Pioneer Valley Writers’ Workshop hosts a series of one-day craft classes and multi-week workshops throughout the fall. Class topics include nonfiction writing, fiction character development, writing about the body, writing dialogue, memoir writing, short story writing, poetry revision, and more.
Location: Williamsburg, Massachusetts | Cost: $60-$350 | Details

Writer’s Workshop with Rick Bass
October 11 to October 13
Writer and activist Rick Bass leads an intensive weekend workshop for up to eight writers who seek to improve their craft. Hands-on group sessions, both mornings and afternoons, will include active workshopping of individual manuscripts and craft-focused discussion. Writers at all levels will find support and challenge for their work. To apply, e-mail up to 15 pages of a manuscript—fiction, poetry or non-fiction—to landskeinfarm@gmail.com. Manuscripts will be reviewed and accepted on a rolling basis. A non-refundable deposit of $375 is due upon acceptance.
Location: Craftsbury Outdoor Center, Craftsbury Commons, Vermont | Cost: $1,250 | Details: Melanie Viets at landskeinfarm@gmail.com