TANIA VERHELST 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 32
I do what I do (drawing and writing) because I want to discover, to explore what I don’t know yet.
The drawing always comes first. With the drawing, dreams and ideas come up, it’s as if the drawing comes alive and I’m watching it.
So, to me writing is a natural consequence of drawing. It’s giving a voice to the images.
Four days a week, I work in a hospital as a psychologist in Bruges, Belgium. The fifth day, I draw and write. Essentially, my work and the drawing/writing are the same thing: they are an exercise in opening my mind to the unexpected and the unknown and trying to express that in words or in images.
34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 32
THAT’S A NICE WATCH
TALK TALK BANG BANG
THE GATES OF HELL
THEN ONE DAY YOU GIVE
A GUY YOUR LEGS
THE YEAR OF THE WRENCH
I’ve always enjoyed observing the human drama that goes on at New York restaurants (pity I can barely afford them).
If I have any advice to writers it’s be voyeur-ish; you have your own stories, of course, but go places where conversations are happening and eavesdrop shamelessly, save snippets from the news, absorb gossip. The stories are yours by the time you finish them, because it’s your passions that shape the details. Much of this came to me from working as a journalist in Asia and seeking experiences far outside my cultural comfort zone; the more I traveled the more I wanted to write fiction because I realized that there are always greater truths than the immediate facts.
I recently finished a new novel, Ms Ming’s Guide to Civilization, an acerbic fantasy about vanquishing hyper-capitalism in both China and the US. I’ve published short fiction in The Neworld Review (neworldreview.com) and Everyday Fiction (everydayfiction.com). But I’m most honored to have been chosen as mentor to an incredibly talented New York inner city high school girl through the coolest literary non-profit program ever, Girls Write Now. janalexander.com
Image by Paul Oratofsky.
Sometimes I find that fantasy can be a good way to get at an emotional truth; it’s also a lot of fun to write!
I believe with every story, there should be a balance between entertainment and emotion. Both aspects are crucial. My goal is always to create a story with heart that’s also engaging to myself and the reader.
The biggest part of my development as a writer has come through reading and studying other writers’ works.
In terms of credits: One of my short stories was named as a finalist in Glimmer Train’s August 2012 Short Story Award for New Writers, and my work has also appeared in Hanging Loose. I live in New York City where I teach fiction and poetry with The Writers Studio, and I’m currently at work on a collection of stories.
Burying Things tells a story of an American history not often explored, from the vantage point of my husband’s family.
Like all history, it is incomplete and flawed, but my hope is the reader will come away from the experience questioning our nation’s creation myths.
I live in Northern California with my husband of twenty-four years, Ed, and our five German Shepherd Dogs. After retiring from a career in State law enforcement, I enrolled in the MFA program in Creative Writing at St Mary’s College in Moraga, California, and graduated in 2013. I am a contributing editor for The East Bay Review and a two-time alum of the Squaw Valley Writer’s Workshop.
I’m intrigued by the allure of the written word, primarily poetry, though I also write fictional work.
With poetry, I’ve learned the stronger pieces find me as opposed to being the product of a rigorous pursuit. It’s important for me to open my eyes and my ears and my mind, to hover in close proximity, so when an opportunity presents itself I’m there to craft and sculpt—to get it down, to document, then remove what doesn’t belong.
I began writing poetry while an undergrad in engineering school. It wasn’t until twenty years later that I learned my grandfather and great-grandfather also wrote poetry—from the wilderness of northern Maine to the trenches of World War I.
Over the years my poetry and short fiction have appeared sparingly in small press literary arts magazines and literary journals, most recently in Third Wednesday, Plainsongs (selected as a 2013 Plainsongs Award Poem), Iodine Poetry Journal, Zone 3, and The Main Street Rag.
Image by Vicki Reed vickireed.com
Recently I told someone that I enjoy being on my feet.
What I meant was how much I love being out and about, particularly in summer when I am not teaching English classes at the community college where I was recently hired as a full-time faculty member.
Often I can be found eating at restaurants, chasing my two-year-old niece at parties or dancing with her to a Miley Cyrus song, and observing people and activities in neighborhoods outside of my own where I spend time either by myself or with family and friends, including the beach which is partly where The Gates of Hell is set. At the time he and I were discussing my writing so he asked me, “But don’t you need to sit still?”
He had a point; I can’t exactly be flitting all over town and expect words to magically appear on the page. What I gained from his practical insight was a better understanding of my writing habits. My explanation was that after periods of gallivanting it is very strange how I can suddenly stop and get the work done, sometimes when I least expect it, something that happened with this story just two weeks after that rainy night at the end of June. It simply came oozing out of me while I stood on the stairs of a restaurant/bar, typing the opening paragraphs into my iPhone.
I have an MFA from The New School and my previous publications can be found in From the Heart of Brooklyn: Volume 2, Toad Journal, The American, Ebibliotekos, XoJane, 34thParallel Magazine, Press Play, The Rumpus, The Chaffey Review, About.com, The Bitchin Kitsch, and The Perennial. email@example.com
I am a morning writer. The only sound I hear while writing is the traffic on I-5.
I will generally write a paragraph then explore the alley. Write a paragraph then visit the garden. Write a paragraph then go check out the rusting hulk of the old Model A across the street. Write a paragraph then go talk to my neighbor Sam about what it was like growing up in Weed in the 1940s. Write a paragraph then go float a pinecone in the local irrigation ditch. If I stick to this plan and don’t get lost in the garden, stuck in the model A, or swept away in the irrigation ditch, I can usually produce a page by noon.
I got my MFA in Creative Writing from Oregon State University in 2009 and teach writing at College of the Siskiyous in Weed, California. My stories have been published in The Masthead and The Bangalore Review and in 2013 and 2014 stories of mine were shortlisted for Writecorner Press’s EM Koeppel Award. Before this I spent two summers teaching in Kenya, twelve summers building trails and packing mules in Sequoia National Park, and played guitar in a number of craptastic rock bands including Grim Reefer (Bard College, New York), Non Drowsy (Missoula, Montana), and El Indio (Corvallis, Oregon).
Twenty years ago Quentin Tarantino was a cinema god, more rock star than movie director.
Critics drooled over him. He won mountains of awards. His fellow filmmakers eagerly aped his style, filling late-nineties’ movie theaters with a glut of Pulp Fiction knockoffs.
In the years since, however, Tarantino’s talent has faded, like so much film nitrate left out in the sun. The very quirks that once made his movies so exciting—their violence, their pop-culture-saturated conversations, their seemingly infinite allusions to other films—have become tired and dull. He has forgotten that movies have to be about something, not just other movies.
I detail this decline in Talk Talk Bang Bang which I wrote to coincide with the release of Tarantino’s latest film, The Hateful Eight, showing in theaters this November. Judging by the trailer, I’d say its shaping up to be yet another turkey from Hollywood’s resident enfant idiote.
My articles have been published in the 34thParallel Magazine, 61 Years of Auteurism Issue 30, Stanley Kubrick Lust for Order Issue 27, Hollywood Divided Issue 24. Also in Senses of Cinema, Bright Lights Film Journal, Film International, Moving Arts Film Journal, and Offscreen. I live in Los Angeles, where I work as an editor and animator.