Editor in Chief Julie Wakeman-Linn interviews Jen Michalski, editor of JMWW, about her new novel, THE TIDE KING.
JWL: First of all, congratulations on the publication of THE TIDE KING. We both have day jobs and wonderful, if demanding, literary magazines, we blog and we write, so I’m know about juggling the things we love.
I am curious: in a publishing market place where every other novel is about NYC, how did you sell a novel that has a non-US setting?
JM: The novel was hard to sell. A lot of interest, but never a commitment, to the whole book. But, like relationships or anything else, it’s just a matter of finding that one publisher who’s interested, and I was very fortunate in that it was Black Lawrence Press, who has such a strong catalog of poets and writers.
JWL: I think small presses like Black Lawrence Press, are an exciting part of the market and maybe the salvation of literary fiction. Next big question: How did you make time to write this wonderful book while editing a lit mag? Did editing inform and encourage you?
JM: The book took about three years to write, which isn’t very long. I try to set small goals, maybe 5-10 pages per week. Between my full-time job, editing the journal, and running the 510 Series with Michael Kimball. I don’t have much more time than that. I don’t want to be the person who holes up in a cave to write and then emerges–I want to be actively involved in the scene. It helps me from living in my head, which I do too much of already.
JWL: Good advice for all writers—get involved, be part of the conversation. Now I also wanted to ask about the delight and difficulty of male narrators for a female writer.
JM: As far as my process goes, I don’t mind writing as either sex. I’m most interested in the perspective of others, putting myself in their shoes. Men often mystify me, so it’s especially attractive to me to find their soft center, particularly with so much “guy” fiction out there.
JWL: Check back next week for a continuation of this conversation!
Jen Michalski is author of the novel The Tide King (winner of the 2012 Big Moose Prize), the short story collections From Here (Aqueous Books 2013) and Close Encounters (So New 2007), and the novella collection Could You Be With Her Now (Dzanc 2013). She is the founding editor of the literary quarterly jmww a co-host of The 510 Readings, and interviews writers at The Nervous Breakdown. She also is the editor of the anthology City Sages: Baltimore, which Baltimore Magazine called a “Best of Baltimore” in 2010. She lives in Baltimore. Follow her on Twitter.