E.B. Bartels

Nonfiction mafia.

Category: Feminism

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Alex Marzano-Lesnevich

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on January 14, 2020.

Alex Marzano-Lesnevich is the author of The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir, recipient of the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Memoir, the 2018 Chautauqua Prize, the Grand Prix des lectrices ELLE for Nonfiction, and the Prix France Inter-JDD, an award for one book of any genre in the world. Named one of the best books of the year by Entertainment Weekly, Audible.com, Bustle, Book RiotThe Times of LondonThe Guardian, and The Sydney Press Herald, it was an Indie Next Pick and a Junior Library Guild selection, long-listed for the Gordon Burn Prize, short-listed for the CWA Gold Dagger, and a finalist for a New England Book Award and a Goodreads Choice Award, and, and has been translated into eight languages. The recipient of fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts, MacDowell, Yaddo, and the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, as well as a Rona Jaffe Award, Marzano-Lesnevich has published essays and criticism in The New York Times Sunday MagazineOxford American, the Boston Globe, and Harpers. They now live in Portland, Maine and are an Assistant Professor of English at Bowdoin College.

Wellesley Writes It: Patrice Caldwell

In my first Wellesley Writes It interview of 2020, I emailed with Patrice Caldwell ’15 — literary agent, writer, founder of People of Color in Publishing, and editor of the anthology A Phoenix First Must Burn. Here’s the beginning of the interview:

Patrice Caldwell ’15 is the founder & fundraising chair of People of Color in Publishing – a grassroots organization dedicated to supporting, empowering, and uplifting racially and ethnically marginalized members of the book publishing industry. Born and raised in Texas, Patrice was a children’s book editor before shifting to be a literary agent at Howard Morhaim Literary Agency.

In 2018, she was named a Publishers Weekly Star Watch honoree and featured on The Writer’s Digest podcast and Bustle’s inaugural “Lit List” as one of ten women changing the book world.

Her anthology, A Phoenix First Must Burn – 16 stories of Black girl magic, resistance, and hope – is out March 10, 2020 from Viking Books for Young Readers/Penguin Teen in the US/Canada and Hot Key Books in the UK! Visit Patrice online at patricecaldwell.com, Twitter @whimsicallyours, and Instagram @whimsicalaquarian.

Wellesley Underground’s Wellesley Writes it Series Editor, E.B. Bartels ’10, had the chance to converse with Patrice via email about publishing, reading, and writing. E.B. is grateful to Patrice for willing to be part of the Wellesley Writes It series, even with everything else she has going on!

EB: When did you first become interested in going into writing and publishing? Did something at Wellesley spark that interest?

PC: For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved writing. It’s how I best express myself. That love pretty naturally grew into creating stories. I’ve always had a very vivid imagination. I’ve also always been pretty aware that publishers exist. I remember at a young age noticing the logos on the spines of books (notating the imprint/publisher), so by the time I was a teen I could recall which publishers published my favorite books (served me very well in interviews, haha) and was curious about that process. But I was a theater kid, intensely, that’s what I thought I would do, but then I decided to go to Wellesley and majored in political science (especially theory—I took ever class Professor Grattan, she’s brilliant) but then dabbled in a bunch of other subjects, including English. I think English courses definitely strengthened my critical thinking, but I absolutely do not think you have to be an English or creative writing major in order to work in publishing or be a writer. My theater background is just as helpful as is my political theory one. (I have friends who are best-selling authors who did MFA programs and others who never went to college.)

Wellesley was my safe space. I came back to myself while at Wellesley. I wrote three (unpublished) manuscripts during my time there, starting the summer after my first year, and I held publishing and writing related internships. I also took a fantastic children’s literature course taught by Susan Meyer (who’s a children’s author herself!) that changed my world. I highly recommend it. We studied children’s literature, got to talk to an author and a literary agent, and we wrote our own stories. I later did a creative writing independent study with her, and I truly thank Professor Meyer for expanding my interest in writing and publishing.

EB: How did People in Color Publishing come about? What goals do you have for the organization? What would you like people to know about it?

PC: I founded People of Color in Publishing in August 2016 to allow people of color clearer access into the book publishing industry, better support networks, and professional development opportunities. It really is about sending the elevator back down for others after climbing (& maybe even assembling) the stairs.

We’re currently working towards nonprofit status. You can learn more about us and our initiatives at https://www.pocinpublishing.com/ and sign up for our newsletter, which is incredibly well done. As you’ll see when you visit the site, the organization really is a team effort. I don’t and couldn’t do this alone; I’ve had an amazing team with me from day one. We each play to our strengths and work really well together. (The org is very active on Instagram and Twitter, too!)

EB: I am really excited about your collection A Phoenix First Must Burn, coming out from Penguin Random House on March 10, 2020. What inspired you to put together that anthology? What was challenging about the process of compiling the anthology, and what was rewarding about it?

PC: Thank you; I’m so excited for it as well. I talk about this more in the book’s introduction, but I was inspired by my eternal love for Octavia Butler—the title even comes from a passage in Parable of the Talents—as well as similar adult market anthologies like Sheree R. Thomas’s Dark Matter, and wondering what one for teens would look like. The answer is power and imagination like I’ve never before seen, in the form of a kick-ass, #BlackGirlMagic anthology that’s hella queer—I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Before I became a literary agent, I was a children’s book editor. The editing of these stories was the easy part. It was super fun. The hard part was wrangling of everyone, haha. Thankfully they were amazing to work with and I wasn’t doing it alone—my then editor Kendra Levin also has a fantastic editorial eye.

As for what was rewarding, my younger self needed this. Like I said, it’s Black and queer. Since Toni Morrison passed, a day hasn’t gone by in which I’ve thought, about how she wrote for Black people, especially Black women, unapologetically. I feel that deeply. I got to work with some of my favorite writers writing today. How often does someone get to say that, you know. And, I grew a lot as a writer. I never thought I could write a short story, but I did. We’ve been getting some really great early reviews (like this beautifully-written starred review from Kirkus, OMG!) But going back to how my younger self needed this, the most rewarding thing has been the people who’ve reached out how excited they are to read it and how much they’ve been craving a book like this. It’s a dream come true. A dream I strategized to reach, worked my butt off on, and so yeah, I’m over the moon.

Go to Wellesley Underground for the complete conversation!

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Cinelle Barnes

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on December 10, 2019.

Cinelle Barnes is a memoirist, essayist, and educator from Manila, Philippines, and is the author of Monsoon Mansion: A Memoir (Little A, 2018) and Malaya: Essays on Freedom (Little A, 2019), and the editor of a forthcoming anthology of essays about the American South (Hub City Press, 2020). She earned an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Converse College. Her writing has appeared in Buzzfeed ReaderCatapultLiterary HubHyphenPanorama: A Journal of Intelligent Travel, and South 85, among others. Her work has received fellowships and grants from VONA, Kundiman, the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund, and the Lowcountry Quarterly Arts Grant. Her debut memoir was listed as a Best Nonfiction Book of 2018 by Bustle and nominated for the 2018 Reading Women Nonfiction Award. Barnes was a WILLA: Women Writing the American West Awards screener and a 2018-19 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards juror, and is the 2018-19 writer-in-residence at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art in Charleston, SC, where she and her family live.

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Carmen Maria Machado

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on November 12, 2019.

Carmen Maria Machado is the author of the memoir In the Dream House and the short story collection Her Body and Other Parties, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the winner of the Bard Fiction Prize, the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction, the Brooklyn Public Library Literature Prize, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize. Machado’s essays, fiction, and criticism have appeared in the New Yorker, the New York TimesGrantaHarper’s BazaarTin HouseVQRConjunctionsMcSweeney’s Quarterly ConcernThe BelieverGuernicaBest American Science Fiction & FantasyBest American Nonrequired Reading, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has been awarded fellowships and residencies from the Guggenheim Foundation, Michener-Copernicus Foundation, Elizabeth George Foundation, CINTAS Foundation, Yaddo, Hedgebrook, and the Millay Colony for the Arts. Machado is the Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania and lives in Philadelphia with her wife.

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Cameron Dezen Hammon

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on October 22, 2019.

Cameron Dezen Hammon’s writing has appeared in Ecotone, The Rumpus, The Literary Review, The Houston Chronicle, and elsewhere. Her essay “Infirmary Music” was named a notable in The Best American Essays 2017, and she is a contributor to The Kiss: Intimacies from Writers (W.W. Norton), My Caesarean: Twenty Mothers on the Experience of Birth by C-Section and After (The Experiment) and Common Prayer: Reflections on Episcopal Worship (Wipf & Stock). She is host of The Ish podcast, and her debut book This Is My Body: A Memoir of Religious and Romantic Obsession will be published by Lookout Books on October 22, 2019. 

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: T Kira Madden

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on September 24, 2019.

T Kira Madden is a lesbian APIA writer, photographer, and amateur magician living in New York City. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College and serves as the founding Editor-in-chief of No Tokens, a magazine of literature and art. A 2017 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in nonfiction literature from the New York Foundation for the Arts, she has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Hedgebrook, Tin House, and Yaddo, where she was selected for the 2017 Linda Collins Endowed Residency Award. She facilitates writing workshops for homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals and currently teaches at Sarah Lawrence College. Her debut memoir, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls, is a 2019 New York Times Editors’ Choice. There is no period in her name.

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Terese Marie Mailhot, interviewed by Céillie Clark-Keane

The summer is winding down, but don’t despair––August’s Non-Fiction by Non-Men is a special one, once again featuring my former GrubStreet student, Céillie Clark-Keane, as a guest interviewer, in conversation with Terese Marie Mailhot! Enjoy.

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on August 20, 2019.

Terese Marie Mailhot is from Seabird Island Band. She is the New York Times bestselling author of Heart Berries: A Memoir. Her book was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for English-Language Nonfiction and was selected by Emma Watson as the Our Shared Shelf Book Club PiCCK for March/April 2018. Heart Berries was also listed as an NPR Best Book of the Year, a Library Journal Best Book of the Year, a New York Public Library Best Book of the Year, a Chicago Public Library Best Book of the Year, and was one of Harper’s Bazaar‘s Best Books of 2018. She is the recipient of a 2019 Whiting Award, the Electra Quinney Award for Published Stories, a Clara Johnson Award, and she is also the recipient of the Spalding Prize for the Promotion of Peace and Justice in Literature. She teaches creative writing at Purdue University.

This month’s guest Non-Fiction by Non-Men interviewer is Céillie Clark-Keane. Céillie lives in Boston, where she currently works as a managing editor. She has a Master’s in English Literature from Northeastern University, and her work has been published by Ploughshares onlineElectric LiteratureBustle, and more.

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Malaka Gharib

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on July 17, 2019.

Photo credit: Andrew Castro

Malaka Gharib is a writer and artist and the author of the graphic memoir I Was Their American Dream. She is also a journalist at NPR in Washington, and reports about global health and development. In her free time, she loves making mini zines, doodling, and leaving nice messages for people on the bus. See her work on her Instagram.

You can read an excerpt of I Was Their American Dream on The Nib.

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Audrey Murray

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on June 28, 2019.

Audrey Murray is a redhead from Boston who moved to China and became a standup comedian. The co-founder of Kung Fu Komedy, Audrey was named the funniest person in Shanghai by City Weekend magazine. Audrey is a staff writer for Reductress.com and a regular contributor at Medium.com; her writing has also appeared in McSweeney’s, LitHubLARBThe GothamistPaste MagazineNarratively, China Economic Review, Nowness, Architizer, and on the wall of her dad’s office. Audrey has appeared on NPR and The Comedy Center: Live from the Table; the Lost in AmericaListen to This!, and Shanghai Comedy Corner podcasts; and on CNN, RTN, and ICS. She recently published her first memoir, Open Mic Night in Moscow. Follow her on Twitter at @ACMwrites.

Wellesley Writes It: Dr. Kwan Kew Lai

In my second interview since I started back editing for Wellesley Underground as their Wellesley Writes It editor, I corresponded with Dr. Kwan Kew Lai, Wellesley ’74 and author of Lest We Forget: One Doctor’s Experience with Life and Death During the Ebola Outbreak.

Here’s the beginning of the interview:

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Kwan Kew Lai ’74, M.D., D.M.D., is an infectious disease specialist who has volunteered her medical services all over the world and the author of Lest We Forget: A Doctor’s Experience with Life and Death During the Ebola Outbreak. In 2004, after the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, she spent three weeks in India, caring for survivors. She soon left her position as a full-time Professor of Medicine in Infectious Diseases and Internal Medicine at UMass Memorial Medical Center and created a half-time position as a clinician, dedicating the other half of her time to humanitarian work.

Since 2005, Lai has volunteered as a mentor to health workers addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Vietnam, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria, Malawi and has provided earthquake relief in Haiti and Nepal, hurricane relief in the Philippines and drought and famine relief in Kenya and the Somalian border. She has also worked with refugees of the Democratic Republic of Congo and internally displaced people in Libya during the Arab Spring and South Sudan after the civil war and treated Ebola patients in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Most recently, she served as a medical volunteer in the Syrian refugee camps in mainland Greece and in Moria refugee camp on Lesvos, Greece for refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran and the countries of the Sub-Saharan Africa and in the world’s biggest refugee camps for the Rohingya in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Lai has blogged extensively about her experiences.

Originally from Penang, Malaysia, Lai came to the United States after receiving a scholarship to attend Wellesley, where she studied molecular biology. “Without that open door I would not have gone on to become a doctor,” Lai wrote in her Doctors Without Borders bio

Lai has received numerous awards for her work, which include being a three-time recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award. In 2017, she was awarded Wellesley College Alumnae Achievement Award. In addition, Lai is the lead author of many publications and presentations. Her research has included HIV studies, infection control, hospital epidemiology, and antibiotic trials. She has served on many committees, task forces, and boards, including the Governor’s Advisory Board for the Elimination of Tuberculosis in Massachusetts. She is also an avid marathon runner and paints when she is inspired.

Wellesley Underground’s Wellesley Writes it Series Editor, E.B. Bartels ’10, had the chance to converse with Lai via email about Lest We Forget and about her experiences at Wellesley and beyond. E.B. would also like to make note that Lai made time to answer these questions even while busy with her 45th Wellesley Reunion! 

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EB: How did Lest We Forget come about? What inspired you to write the book?

KKL: I first became aware of the Ebola outbreak in March of 2014, I began to follow it very closely. I read about Ebola when I was in my training as an infectious disease specialist. It is a deadly viral infection but it usually occurs in Africa and I knew that it would be unlikely for me to see a patient with this infection. In the summer of 2014 when WHO finally acknowledged the seriousness of the situation, the nightly TV images of people desperate to get into a hospital and bodies lying in the streets because they were too infectious to be touched, moved me. I knew I had to be in West Africa to volunteer.

I started blogging a few years ago when I went to volunteer to enable my family and close friends to keep abreast of my situation and so I did the same when I started volunteering in the Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU). Deeper into my volunteering I was very moved by the courage and resilience of the patients and the dedication and dogged determination of the people who worked alongside me and who risked their lives working in the frontline. After my first stint in West Africa, I was interviewed by NPR international health correspondent, Nurith Aizenman, about my experience and she had urged me to write a book. I had thought about that as well before she brought it up but I was too taken up into my second stint of Ebola volunteer by then. When I was in Sierra Leone doing my second Ebola volunteering, I was also contacted by an agency who wanted to represent me with either writing a book or making a documentary. However just before I left for Sierra Leone, I signed with my first agent about my book on Africa which is about my experiences as a volunteered doctor in HIV/AIDS and my work in the refugee camps. I did not feel it was ethically right to deal with another agency. Nevertheless, writing a book about Ebola became more urgent, I wanted to write this in honor and memory of the people afflicted by Ebola and the frontline bola fighters who put their lives on the line. It took me awhile for me to convince my agent to present my book on Ebola first before my book on Africa.

Go to Wellesley Underground for the complete conversation!

 

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