Today's interview is with Abigail Stevens, whose story "At the Hospital" appeared in the Anthology Never Hit by Lightning. Thanks to Abbey for stopping by!
Jennifer Walker: Tell me about the story you have in Never Hit by Lightning. What is it about, and what inspired it?
Abigail Stevens: There was a writing exercise in the book What If that asked the writer to write in the voice of someone you don't like. At one time I worked in Boston at a hospital as an admin assistant and would go to the Children's Hospital cafeteria for their far superior food/menu. It was late afternoon one day and I was on a break. I was walking across the caf eating area. I was the only one walking toward the kitchen and I heard this kid say, "Heh, look at HER. She's so fat she looks like a duck!" I turned and looked this teenaged boy right in the eyes and gave the sternest 'f--- you' glare I could muster. He had his arm around some girl who giggled while he smirked. I was fuming angry and never forgot the incident. When I thought about him, I thought about him being alone --no girl-- and why he might be in the Children's Hospital cafeteria. In my story, "At the Hospital", he was angry at fat people because they seemed relatively healthy but making themselves fat while his brother was up in a hospital bed getting treated for leukemia.
Jennifer Walker: Did you have any misgivings about submitting your work? How did you get over them?
Abigail Stevens: Tucker Lieberman, one of the editors of Never Hit By Lightening, is a good friend of mine. Even so, submitting your work is always nerve-wracking. But I emailed him a bunch of stories and "At the Hospital" fit the theme perfectly so there you go. I am delighted to be included. Next, I would like to submit my work to "The Sun Magazine". I have had a subscription with them since 2003. I am nervous about sending them off but I have nothing to lose. You just need to take a deep breath, print out your stories and submit them.
Jennifer Walker: How did you learn about this anthology, and what made you submit?
Abigail Stevens: Again, Tucker Lieberman is a good friend who told me he was putting together a zine. I really appreciate his encouragement and the tiny editing he did on my story for clarification.
Jennifer Walker: Tell me about other writing projects you have--past, present and future.
Abigail Stevens: I have a novella (78 pages) that I do not know what to do with. It's too long to be a short story and too short to be a novel. I've tried expanding it but a writer knows when their work is done. I have nothing to add or subtract from my novella. I need to search out writing contests that accept novellas I suppose. I even thought of turning it into a screenplay. We'll see...
Jennifer Walker: Tell me about your education and writing background.
Abigail Stevens: I have a BFA in Writing from Emerson College. I have had essays and short stories published in local publications.
Jennifer Walker: What do you do for a living?
Abigail Stevens: I was laid off a couple of years ago. I have been doing temporary administrative assistant jobs. I am currently unemployed and collectiong unemployment. I went on a job interview on Monday the 26th and have the opportunity at a temp job that starts mid-November. I am doing better than a lot of people and I'm grateful. My friends and family have been extremely supportive.
Jennifer Walker: To what do you attribute your success as a writer so far?
Abigail Stevens: Both my parents are the smartest, funniest, coolest people I know. They are intellectuals. They are my greatest teachers. My father is an artist. My mother is a retired librarian.
Jennifer Walker: Tell me about your family. Are they supportive of your writing?
Abigail Stevens: My parents had me when they were 41. You'll be able to figure out my age, but they are 80 now and have been married for 50 years. My parents like my writing and they will tell me when they don't. I appreciate their honesty.
Jennifer Walker: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go, and who would you take with you?
Abigail Stevens: Honestly, I would love to visit my best friend in Seattle and just stay there for a month hanging out with her. That would be the best. I don't mind rain and I've been to Seattle four times. If I don't live there someday soon, I'll definitely retire there.
Jennifer Walker: Tell me one thing about yourself that you think most people don't know.
Abigail Stevens: I have naturally curly hair that grows out, not down. When I was a kid, I would put a tan, turtle-neck jersey on my head (the turtle-neck would fit tightly like a headband) and walk around my room pretending I had long hair. Then I would stand on my bed and pretend I was Cher on "The Sonny and Cher" show. Yeah, I probably should have been born a gay man...
(Jennifer: LOL! Thanks again, Abbey!)