December 9, 2011

Friends Friday

I love the people whom I’m able to pick and who choose me back! They are the true miracles, true treasures of the world. Today I wanted to highlight a few writer friends who are doing such great work. I can only highlight a couple, so I apologize in advance if you’re not here. I value our friendship so much!

Pembroke Sinclair

PS is a kickass writer who writes kickass protagonists. She loves writing about apocalypse and the deeply moral issues that come with the collapse of society and the moral implications of life. I make is sound grand, but when you pick up her books, you’re in for a ride.

I’m in the middle of reading her latest, Life After the Undead. I got to read it in manuscript form, and now going back, she’s done such excellent things in revision (not that it was great to begin with) and I’m seeing deeper things and it’s still fresh and a great read. I say her protagonists are kickass, and they are, but there’s also a fragility about them I can’t quite put my finger on. Here’s what it’s about:

The world has come to an end. It doesn’t go out with a bang, or even a whimper. It goes out in an orgy of blood and the dead rising from their graves to feast on living flesh. As democracy crumples and the world melts into anarchy, five families in the U.S. rise to protect the survivors. The undead hate a humid environment, so they are migrating westward to escape its deteriorating effects. The survivors are constructing a wall in North Platte to keep the zombie threat to the west, while tyranny rules among the humans to the east. Capable but naïve Krista is 15 when the first attacks occur, and she loses her family and barely escapes with her life. She makes her way to the wall and begins a new life. But, as the undead threat grows and dictators brainwash those she cares about, Krista must fight not only to survive but also to defend everything she holds dear—her country, her freedom, and ultimately those she loves.

And big congrats her way too! She just finished the first draft of the sequel to this, tentatively titled Death to the Undead. You should also pick up her specfic Coming from Nowhere, which has great aliens and a plot that is so well-constructed but will keep you guessing. Oh, and the great kickass narrator.

Take my word for it: You’re going to see her name coming up a lot.

Nina McConigley

Nina writes such lovely and honest stories ~ "Curating Your Life" (American Short Fiction Fall 2009) is an exemplar of taking the facts of your life and transmuting it into fabulous New Yorker-style fiction. My favorite kind. And I’m so proud of her. A Wyoming but international girl, she’s living in London right now and going great guns on her novel. I can’t wait to read it.

Nina’s life is so fascinating. Her mom is originally from India, and her dad is originally from Ireland, and Nina was raised in Casper, Wyoming. Her fiction often stems from that friction, that intersection of cultures. It’s always deeply considered and painfully honest.

Nina went to Houston ~ second ranked in the nation ~ to get her MFA, and she’s been to Bread Loaf more times than you can count and she’s won awards for her plays and her short stories, including finalist for the Flannery O’Connor short fiction award and a nomination for a Pushcart and much more.

I would recommend you read "Curating Your Life" (here's her reading part of it; unfortunately the whole story is not online) and keep an eye out. Another we’re going to be seeing a lot of. I for one can’t wait!

Ken Olsen

Ken is a freelance journalist who writes these amazing stories about military veterans. These are such works of art unto themselves ~ so moving and well-written. They explore such deep questions in such a human and heart-felt way. It makes you want to take arms against injustice.

But the work of his heart has been a memoir. He has been working on it for a long time, and now it is nearing completion! A HUGE congratulations goes out to him. A great feat. (And now that I’m struggling to approach my own memoir, an even larger feat than I dreamed.) I can’t wait because I think it’s going to be one of those that will sweep the nation, one that you hear about on NPR and elsewhere. It’s a memoir, but it reads like Steinbeck or another literary great ~ and I mean that in the best sense.

This is what the memoir is about.

A college classmate – who leaves me weak-kneed and breathless when she merely tosses her dark bangs out of her eyes – heads to Alaska for a summer job on a fishing boat. This small-town Wyoming boy follows and ends up gutting salmon in a fish cannery to earn a plane ticket home. Six months later, she runs off to North Africa with the Peace Corps and I stay in Alaska, heart bruised, hoping she’ll return. This sets the pattern of our relationship: I pursue, she retreats. Two-and-a-half years later, she returns and we end up on a rafting trip in the Grand Canyon. We fall in love again during that near-death experience, and I struggle to keep our relationship – and myself – together as we spend a decade careening around the West and Alaska. For all we give each other, I’m blind to what she most needs: For me to let her go.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? From what I’ve read, yes, yes.


Pembroke Sinclair said...

You are so sweet to highlight all of us! And you make me sound so accomplished! YOU ROCK!

Tamara said...

Repeat after me: As accomplished as you are!! ;-)

Ken said...

You are so kind and supportive, Tamara. The real memoir that will sweep the nation is yours. Meanwhile, it's so great to see the results of Nina's talent in print.
London via Casper -- how can you miss?

Tamara said...

Thank you so much, Ken! Not sure about my memoir ~ gotta get it written first. :-)

Yes, I can't wait to see more of Nina's work as well!!