Could you tell us a little bit about your book? Do you have a favorite story in this collection?
Well, it really is a collection of the stories I’ve been working on over the past few years. I’d published a number of them in little and literary magazines, but traditional publishing tends to frown on short fiction. With the rise of ebooks and self publishing, though, that’s changing. As a matter of fact, I’m a partner in a new publishing venture called Village Green Press LLC, and this is our launch title, along with Lisa Adams’ upcoming The Assassin’s Café, and Bruce Rosenfeld’s Make Every Shot Count. Over time, we hope to offer prospective authors and readers a hybrid publishing concern that makes it possible to have the best of both traditional and self publishing options.
As for my favorite story in this collection, I’d have to say it’s Ex Voto, not just because it speaks to the idea of what America represents to the immigrants who come here, but also because it’s about nurturing your art even under adverse circumstances.
Your stories deal with a number of hot-button political issues. When does a story transform from fiction for its own sake to a political action?
I certainly didn’t start out writing any of these stories as a political action. Rather, they became increasingly political as our political climate heated up and we became more polarized regarding certain issues. But I do think it’s important for a writer to serve in some way as an authentic witness to their times. I wrote what I saw happening around me with as compassionate a vision as I was able.
What special challenges were raised by the political and religious nature of your book?
To keep each of these characters entirely human. To really establish the kind of narrative voice that didn’t take sides, and didn’t judge. The young veteran in Times New Roman was perhaps the greatest challenge, personally. I was the editor of a weekly newspaper in a very Christian, very right wing area of Virginia for awhile, and the folks there were very much in favor of the war in Iraq, and very much in favor of sending their kids off to the military as a career.
I, on the other hand, was very anti-war; my family and I were in NYC during 9/11. Even (or especially) because of that, I couldn’t find any justification for continued violence. But my neighbors in Virginia weren’t bad people, either. They were good people in a country that was making some bad choices. So I had to be careful not to take a side in creating that character, and to make him someone anybody could feel for, no matter where they stood on the war in Iraq.
What led you to write these stories?
Ultimately, I write to keep myself sane. To me, fiction is a way of making sense of the universe.
What is the best advice you can give about writing?
Ha! Writing is like America. Love it or leave it. No, seriously, I’ve been on both sides of the desk, both as an author and as an editor. I currently work at The Editorial Department, the oldest and largest editorial firm on the web, as a manuscript consultant and developer, helping other authors, and have published over 30 books under my own name and various pseudonyms. I never got rich, I never got famous, but I consider myself really, really fortunate that whatever aspect of this business I’m involved with at the moment, I love what I do. So my best advice to other writers is to love what they do. Not because it will make them a fortune or they’ll become the “ next” whoever, but because their voice is unique and worth the time and effort it takes to perfect their craft.
Thanks for stopping by, Teresa!
Teresa Kennedy can be found on: twitter @editorialgirl53; Facebook Teresa Kennedy!
In the Country of No Compassion is available here and here.
View the Book Trailer here.
Teresa Kennedy is an author, editor and publisher with more than 25 years experience in the publishing industry. An author or co-author of more than 30 published books, including fiction and non-fiction, she has also run an independent newspaper and published a variety of short stories and articles in publications around the world. Her novel, The Rattlesnake Stradivarius, is currently in production by the Book-it! Theater company of Seattle with plans for a full production in 2012. Her e-book collection of short fiction, In the Country of No Compassion, premieres in March 2011 from Village Green Press, an imprint for authors who seek the benefits of self-publishing without the stigma sometimes associated with it, of which she is co-founder.
She has served as a senior editor, acquisitions editor, and consulting editor for a variety of publishers, agents, and book packagers around the country. A graduate of The University of Wisconsin back in the days when it was a “hotbed of radical unrest,” she has also lived in Texas, Virginia, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and several cities in France. She currently lives in Tucson, AZ, with her husband and daughter.
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