Next up, Justin Carmickle from the Autumn 2010 issue of The Battered Suitcase:
Justin, when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I first began writing film scripts as a teen. Then, once I began studying English and Creative Writing at Indiana University-Bloomington, I realized my true passion to be fiction (I also enjoy poetry).
Why do you write?
Writing, for me, has become habit. Even with essays, homework, and exams, I still find myself drawn to the computer where I'll work on a piece. I find it liberating not only to write, but also to edit my own work, as well as others.
Is being a writer/poet anything like you imagined it would be?
At 21, it may be too soon to answer this question. Ask me again in 5 years?
What do you think makes a good story?
Though many will disagree, for me the main element that leads to a good story is sentence level writing. A good sentence keeps the reader in the story no matter the plot.
What's your favorite genre to read?
For the most part I tend to read realism. I go from reading novels to short stories.
Who is your favorite author or poet?
My favorite fiction writers are Andre Dubus (the father) and Flannery O'Connor. I enjoy the poems of Elizabeth Bishop.
What books or stories have most influenced you the most as a writer?
Definitely Flannery O'Connor's complete stories. Also, the collections of Andre Dubus, such as Separate Flights, Adultery & Other Choices, and The Times Are Never So Bad.
What books or stories have most influenced you as a person?
Again, I have to go with the Dubus collections. Their pages hold not only some wonderfully complicated characters, but some of the most powerful sentences any writer/reader can hope to encounter. He really is a marvelous writer.
Where/how do you find the most inspiration?
I find my most inspiration through single images. A piece I recently published was inspired by a family member who was telling me a story about how one harvests honey.
What does your family think of your writing?
My family supports my writing. However, only my grandmother is a reader, and she is always excited when I've finished a new piece.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
Mostly I write for 2-3 hour blocks. I tend to think of my fiction while walking to and from class. My process is very slow.
Do you have any writing quirks or rituals?
I listen to music when writing. Conor Oberst, The Kinks, Miles Davis.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Mainly, I tend to involve too much conflict in my pieces. I need to stop trying to jam multiple stories into one.
What are your current projects?
At the moment I am working on a short story and revising two others to submit for publication.
What are you planning for future projects?
I plan to continue writing fiction and dabbling in poetry for...life?
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Read and revise. Through revision comes real writing.
Where can we find your work?
I have a short story forthcoming in Louisiana Literature. I'm very excited about this publication. This is a wonderful journal that has published Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler, so I'm blessed to be included in the journal's pages.