Author Interview: Peter Gloviczki

Peter J. Gloviczki is a talented poet — and an assistant professor of communications at Coker College in Hartsville, South Carolina. Peter earned his doctorate at the University of Minnesota, where I was fortunate to study writing and “new media” alongside him. Peter’s research specialty is social media and how these networks are shaping and reflecting public reactions to traumatic events. Online memorials and shared grieving can alter news coverage and historical  perspectives.

Yet, it is his work as poet that most interests me. Maybe it is because we both study online culture that I appreciate the direct and personal nature of poetry. What we post online seems ephemeral, especially when compared to a book sitting on a shelf, waiting to be read again and again.

Peter’s success as a poet is impressive, yet he remains a humble and generous colleague and teacher. He easily could lead seminars in poetry, world literature, journalism, and communications research methods. I believe it is breadth of his interests that makes him such a gifted and perceptive poet.

Your poetry has appeared in many publications, and you have a new book. What would you like readers to know about the book and your other works?

I have written poetry for many years, and I’m very pleased to share this new book, Kicking Gravity (Salmon Poetry, 2013), with the world. The book was written over the past seven (or so) years and it brings together some of my best work across that period. I am honored that my poems have appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, New Orleans Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review and elsewhere. In Kicking Gravity, I write in many different voices and tell the stories that interest me the most; those about life, love, travel and the processes of disconnection and reconnection. I am fortunate to have worked with several talented teachers and mentors over the past several years, including Ray Gonzalez, Maria Damon, Eliot Khalil Wilson, Kim Addonizio, April Ossmann, Hilda Raz and William Reichard. I believe the poems in Kicking Gravity, and my work as a whole, has been considerably strengthened as a result of these experiences.

In school, we encourage children to write poetry. We often assign basic poetic forms in high school, as well. Unfortunately, too many students start to view poetry as strange and difficult to write. What do you believe led to your passion for poetic forms? How was that passion maintained?

I was always encouraged to write and to express myself and I feel very lucky to have had this early support—from my family, friends and teachers. If a student feels called to write, I encourage them to follow that calling and to seek out the writing of others. There are so many great writers at all levels—writing for young children, for elementary, middle and high school students and for adults. To someone who is new to writing, I would offer the following as recommendations: Mary Ann Hoberman, Naomi Shihab Nye, Sandra Beasley, Sandra Cisneros, Adrienne Rich, Gary Soto, Gary Snyder and Mark Levine.

You seem to have an appreciation for short-forms, such as haiku. What about these forms appeals to you?

I am attracted to the challenge of writing with clarity. My favorite poems are those that mean what they say, and do so in a way that is compelling and fresh. I admire those writers who can work within the constraints of the form and yet produce something that sticks in the reader’s mind.

Your Ph.D. is not in literature or poetry. Instead, your specialty is social media and their role in major events. What relationship do you see between social media and poetry?

While there is no formal relationship between the two, I can say that I truly enjoy them both. I love teaching, researching and serving my community, and I enjoy writing and reading poetry. In this way, I am sure that I have been inspired by my parents. My mother was a stage actress and is now a ceramic artist. My father was a slight-of-hand magician and is now a vascular surgeon. I was always encouraged to pursue those things that interest me, and I do so with a great sense of discovery.

You will be relocating from the Twin Cities soon. Could you reflect on the rich literary culture in Minnesota? How did the region help you as a writer?

Minneapolis/St. Paul has a true appreciation for the arts and humanities, including for creative writing Institutions such as The Loft Literary Center, great bookstores such as Magers & Quinn Booksellers and Common Good Books, have helped this area immensely. They create spaces to showcase new voices and encourage new work. I have seen the enthusiasm for poetry first-hand while giving readings and sharing Kicking Gravity with the community. For me personally, I think this region—and the support for the arts that is here—just encouraged me to be myself and write my best poems. I believe there are many great literary communities around this country and around the world, and I would encourage all writers, young and old, to seek out supportive spaces for the production and consumption of new work. These might include bookstores, writing centers, reading and writing groups and community organizations.  I believe that the best tool for a writer anywhere is to be persistent; find opportunities to always keep writing. Just a few minutes a day, or even a few minutes every week, of reading and/or writing can help build the creative habit. I try to read and write when and where I can, as often as possible.

Interview with mystery writer W. S. Gager

Humorous mystery writer W. S. Gager graciously agreed to be our first author interview for our reading and writing blog. I had fun coming up with questions to ask, but welcome any and all suggestions for future interviews.

1. What can you tell us about yourself?

I’ve always been a writer. My first writing memory was eighth grade when I was named editor of the English class paper. That was the first time I was ever recognized for my writing and that was enough. I was hooked. I’ve been writing ever since and starting novels and putting them aside. My jobs also have been writing related including a journalist, speech writer, and public relations writer. Five years ago I told myself I was chained to my desk until I finished a book. I was hooked and always have at least one novel in progress at all times. To help pay the bills I teach developmental English classes in reading and writing at Baker College. I’ve lived in Michigan most of my life and love the Midwestern work ethic and friendliness.

2. What can you tell us about your book(s)?

I write mysteries but my first novel was a romance. I’ve read thousands of romance novels and thought I could write one. Turns out I wasn’t so hot on romantic entanglements but excelled at planting clues. My first mystery book called A Case of Infatuation won the Dark Oak Mystery Contest and then published. Go figure it was a mystery with a touch of romance, sort of.

Three books are out in the Mitch Malone Mystery Series featuring crime-beat reporter Mitch Malone as the amateur sleuth. The books are a throwback to the noir feel of the trench-coat-wearing private eye mixed with a bit of Pink Panther wit. The second book called A Case of Accidental Intersection won the Public Safety Writers Association award for unpublished fiction prior to print. A Case of Hometown Blues was released in July.

3. It seems that some writers have always known they were writers because they always had stories in their heads, and some writers started writing because they were frustrated with the lack of quality in published books. Have you always known you were a writer? Or was this a newly acquired inspiration? And if so, what made you start writing?

Both of them hold true for me. I have always been a writer but for many years I wrote nonfiction articles in newspapers and magazines. I always thought I would write a book someday. Every so often I would get an itch to start a book. I even entered a short story contest once. But I didn’t do it seriously. Then I had surgery and was laid up for eight weeks. I told myself that I was going to finish a book or I was going to quit trying to write them. I’d never gotten beyond halfway before. I did finish my first book. It was awful but I’ve been hooked ever since. My third one was published. As for the voices in my head. They are there. I’ve always looked at ordinary things and create fantastic stories in my head. Now I just put them down on paper.

4. Is there anything you can tell us about the source of your stories? Are the characters or events based on real-life events? Or as fictional as possible?

Many people that know me, can’t see me in the books I write. They only similarity between me and Mitch Malone who is the crime-beat-reporter sleuth is our occupation. I couldn’t figure that out for the longest time and I finally understand it. Mitch is the guilt-free, say-anything-I-want person I could never be. He is brash, smart, obnoxious with a dogged determination to get the story at any cost. As for the crimes in each book, the ideas come from something real but then are distorted so much they can’t be recognized.

5. I think a lot of beginning writers, and some readers, are interested in your particular method for writing novels. Do you work with an outline? Do you thoroughly define your characters before you write, or do you let interesting characters create themselves along the way? Do you start writing at the beginning and let the story unfold? Or do you write scenes out of order, then piece it back together?

I am a very seat-of-the-pants writer. I have an idea of where the story is going and where it starts. Then I just jump in and start writing. In A Case of Accidental Intersection Elsie Dobson had a small role as a witness in the opening scene. Elsie wasn’t happy about that. She kept coming up either by baking cookies for Mitch, hauling him across the coals for not pursuing the case or needing to be rescued. Every couple of chapters she came up. I finished the book and Elsie’s voice still wouldn’t leave me alone. I wrote a short story with her and Mitch and she finally started to be quiet.

6. Do you use any organizational software for writing?

No. Is there such a thing? I’m not very organized in my writing so I’m not sure it would help. The best I do for an organization system is I use sticky notes to help me complete all the plot lines.

7. Do you set specific daily hours or word count goals for yourself?

I do at times but then I take time off to recharge. When I’m working on a first draft, I usually work every day and try and write at least 1,000 words a day. When I’m working on a second draft or editing, I set goals specific to where I’m at. I can’t edit for hours at a time like I can when I write. After about an hour of editing, my eyes cloud over and I need a break.

8. In this day of print-on-demand publishing and ePubs, how do you promote your books?

I just try and get the word out anyway I can through guest blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and other Internet areas. I wish there was some secret formula but I haven’t found it yet.

9. What do you like to read? Were you a reader before you turned to writing?

Reading books was my life for many years. From middle school through college I read at least four books during a weekend and depending on what was going on, another few books during the week. I loved books and would read anything I could get my hands on. As I became older I had less time and became pickier because I could drive myself to the library or bookstore. I enjoy mysteries and thrillers but only read them when I’m not writing my first draft. I’m afraid I will grab ideas from them. When I’m writing I read romances, they are my ultimate escapism form.

W.S. Gager

Author of Humorous Whodunits
A Case of Infatuation and A Case of Accidental Intersection – Now Available
A Case of Hometown Blues – Coming this summer!

Purchase A Case of Infatuation today at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.