The Next Big Thing (interview with Tara Laskowski)

I’ve had the honor of being interviewed by Tara Laskowski for The Next Big Thing series, a chain of interviews where authors talk about their new/forthcoming collections and projects.

Here, I will be discussing my forthcoming collection, The Way Home.

The questions Tara asked were wonderful; it felt good to answer them.

Now, I will let the answers speak for themselves.


Photo by Karen Prosen


What is your working title of your book (or story)? 

The Way Home, which is actually no longer a working title. The title of this book was inspired directly by an etching of “The Way Home” on the railing of the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge in New Mexico.


Where did the idea come from for the book?

I returned to Florida from New Mexico and put this collection together—some writing is “newer,” some writing is “older.” I say “newer” and “older” because I am only talking about one layer of time here, the layer that tells us when to go to “work,” when to go to sleep, when to wake up.  I think all of the writing in The Way Home has been composting inside of me for a long, long time, and those layers of time—the layers that exist beneath the clock—formed this book.  I started writing “The Heart of America” in my car about two years ago, in a parking garage, after hearing TLC’s “Waterfalls” on the radio, and I wrote the first draft of “Wires and Light” a little less than five years ago, when my entire life changed, when I looked at Fear in the eye, when I decided to shape up and start living, really living.  I used to tell people: “I’m twenty-two years old but have only been alive for eleven months.”


What genre does your book fall under? 

(Auto)fictionpoetry, wanderlove.


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 

Alison Lohman as brave love/narrator/Clementine.

Jessica Chastain as Clay & Anchor, the woman who calls narrator Clementine.

Dominique Swain as love lost.

Alanis Morissette as Muse Girl in the Desert.

Billy Bob Thornton as Prairie.


What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A woman processes losing her first love, a girl who died too young, while understanding that she is losing the woman she loves now, the woman who she sees driving a big, fast car to Saturn, the woman who calls her Clementine.

The Muse Girls in the Desert, they live in the subconscious, in a way.


Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Dancing Girl Press is publishing this collection.  It’s an honor to know that each copy of my book will be hand made, treated with care.  Each book Dancing Girl publishes is a work of art in itself, and publishing this book with DGP offered me a wonderful opportunity to participate in artistic collaboration.


How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I believe it took me my whole life.


What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I am reaching a point where I no longer understand how to compare. I know how to compare, but I don’t quite understand “how” right now, if that makes sense. I would like to take art-energies for what they are, process them for what they are.

The verse novel We Take Me Apart by Molly Gaudry and Bleed Into Me by Stephen Graham Jones have both influenced me greatly.  The language and time leaps present in both of these books have shaped the way I understand the connection between what’s out there (movement, a tangible “A” to “B”) and what’s inside (the story/poem/word clusters that are being processed, a more abstract “A” to “B”).


Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The women I’ve loved, the landscapes I’ve seen, lived in, learned from, the lives I’ve had to let go of (the lives within my own life, the lives of others) – all of these energies have inspired me to write this book.

Landscape has been one of my greatest teachers, one of my strongest family members. I have so much gratitude for landscape, the boundaries of landscape (water knows where to end and begin, and so does air and earth), the energy that comes with sea level. In Florida I am more connected to water than I am in New Mexico, and in turn, different parts of my spirit get exercised. All of it is a gift.


What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? 

Big planet turning. Muse girls. Fast cars. Pearls. Gardens. Woman loving woman. Open road / cactus flower / strong moon / brave love: When she swallowed that bird, she knew that she, too, would grow fearlessly with its song



I’ve also had the honor of interviewing these four talented authors, who will be posting their answers next week:

Francesca Lia Block will post on December 18th about her new book, The Elementals. You can read the interview on her blog,

Jesse Bradley will post on December 19th at, where he will talk about his novella, Bodies Made of Smoke.

Martha Marinara will post on Dec 20 at Here, she will talk about her forthcoming novel Breakfast in Memphis.

Kayla Roseclere will post on Dec 21 at Here, she will talk about her book in progress, The Secret Language of Crickets.