SELFIE INTERVIEW | Cory Johnston

Cory Johnston is a writer, editor, and teacher from northern New Jersey. He holds an MFA from Fairleigh Dickinson University and has been involved with FDU’s international literary magazine, The Literary Review, since 2012, including serving five years as Books Editor. Outside of the literary world, you’re likely to find him seeking out rare and delicious sandwiches, following the summer Phish tour, or trying to befriend the local squirrel population.

Eckleburg: What captures your interest most in your work, now, as a reader of your work?

Cory Johnston: Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about tone and voice. Mood. I tend to write about death, dying, loss, and other heavy stuff, but I really don’t want my essays to feel like relentless misery. In the real world I’m not a very serious person, so staying true to the content and themes of my work – which are serious and deserve to be treated as such –  while also allowing my sillier, more playful side to come through is something I am constantly thinking about (usually with some frustration).

Eckleburg: What are you working on now?

Cory Johnston: Currently, I am working on a manuscript that I suppose is a collection of essays. I’m hoping to explore the themes of death, grief, determinism, and the limits of our ability to process and understand our own nature. In terms of structure and style, the essays often use conceits of speculative fiction, too, from outer space monsters to multiverse theory to the eldritch Old Ones. Hopefully it all amounts to something interesting.

Eckleburg: Who and what are your artistic influences?

Cory Johnston: I tend towards the strange and unusual as much as I can. Anything with a sense of mystery or uncertainty – I love feeling uncertain and have a kind of inherent mistrust of art that is overly didactic. Make me confused, make me think, make me wonder. More than anything else though, my basic sense of art and the nature of self-expression is influenced by the twenty years I’ve spent as a die-hard Phish fan. As a band, they are just pure creativity and ambition. They are constantly inspiring.

Eckleburg thanks Cory Johnston. Do you have new work published here at Eckleburg or elsewhere? Add your Selfie Interview and share the news with our 10,000+ reading and writing community. If you have a new book out or upcoming, join our Eckleburg Book Club and let our readers know about it.

SELFIE INTERVIEW | Caren Morrison

Caren Morrison grew up in France and was a music journalist for Melody Maker in London for seven years. After staying up all night in Barcelona with Green Day and touring Scotland in a tiny van with Courtney Love, she decided to become a lawyer. She graduated from Columbia Law School, prosecuted foreign drug cartels at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, and finally ended up as a law professor in Atlanta. She now lives with her federal agent husband, two red-haired children, two sweet but poorly behaved dogs, and a cat. She is currently working on a novel about the corrosive power of remorse in the aftermath of a police shooting. This is her first personal essay publication.

Eckleburg: What captures your interest most in your work, now, as a reader of your work?

Caren Morrison: What captures my interest most when I read my own writing are the times when something funny works — the joke lands, or the wording surprises me. I really love when I read something that I don’t remember writing, but I think, hey, that’s really neat. It doesn’t happen very often, I might hasten to add.

Eckleburg: What are you working on now?

Caren Morrison: I’m working on a story about the aftermath of a police shooting. It’s based on an actual incident in Brunswick, Georgia where police wrongfully shot and killed a woman in her car and never faced trial or reprimand. But the officer never got over it. Somehow the system that was supposed to protect him, that was in some ways unfairly slanted to shield him from legal scrutiny, put him in an impossible situation. He could never come clean, could never apologize, so his remorse had no outlet. He eventually committed suicide.

I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The officer had seemed so callous and unfeeling, but that wasn’t it at all. So I’ve imagined a character in that situation who seems like a total jerk, who kills someone and is initially just concerned about keeping his job, but who is actually deeply troubled by what he did. He joined the police force to protect people, to be one of the good guys, and he is unable to forgive himself, not only for what he did, but for getting away with it.

Eckleburg: Who and what are your artistic influences?

Caren Morrison: There are many, and any list is going to leave a bunch of them out and have me up all night rewriting this interview in my head. But anyway: Anne Tyler, because of the effortless-seeming way she balances humor and compassion for people’s flaws. Raymond Chandler, cause he’s so damn cool and his writing is beautiful. Lloyd Alexander, because The Book of Three was my favorite book growing up and I still reread it and the other four books in that series with enormous pleasure. I love big fat novels that are completely immersive, like Jane Eyre and A Passage to India, as well as small thin novels that are immersive and mysterious, like The Trial and Heart of Darkness. Also Zadie Smith, George Saunders, Jo Ann Beard, Russell Banks, Toni Morrison, Kate Atkinson, Stephen King (even though I cover my eyes during the scary parts). And P.G. Wodehouse, because there’s no one funnier.  

Eckleburg thanks Caren Morrison. Do you have new work published here at Eckleburg or elsewhere? Add your Selfie Interview and share the news with our 10,000+ reading and writing community. If you have a new book out or upcoming, join our Eckleburg Book Club and let our readers know about it.

SELFIE INTERVIEW | BillYarrow

Bill Yarrow is a Professor of English at Joliet Junior College where he teaches creative writing, Shakespeare, and Introduction to Film. He is the author of five full-length volumes of poetry (ACCELERANT from Nixes Mate Books, AGAINST PROMPTS from Lit Fest Press, THE VIG OF LOVE for Glass Lyre Press, BLASPHEMER from Lit Fest Press and POINTED SENTENCES from BlazeVOX) as well as five chapbooks. His poems have appeared widely in national and international journals including PANK, Gargoyle, FRiGG, Diagram, Contrary, THRUSH, Poetry International, RHINO, Magma, Staxtes, and Levure Littéraire. His work also appears in the anthologies Aeolian Harp, Volume One; This is Poetry: Volume Two; and Beginnings: How 14 Poets Got Their Start. He is an editor of the online journal Blue Fifth Review and has been nominated eight times for a Pushcart Prize.

Eckleburg: What captures your interest most in your work, now, as a reader of your work?

BillYarrow: Precision. 

Eckleburg: What are you working on now?

BillYarrow: A volume of New and Selected Poems. 

Eckleburg: Who and what are your artistic influences?

BillYarrow: Books: The Castle of Perseverance, Petrarch’s Secretum, Truth is More Sacred by Edward Dahlberg and Herbert Read, A Private Correspondence by Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell, Melincourt by Thomas Love Peacock, Opium: The Diary of a Cure by Jean Cocteau, “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” by William Blake, I Am Not Ashamed by Barbara Payton, Project for a Revolution in New York by Alain Robbe-Grillet, Life of Johnson by James Boswell, Paris Spleen by Charles Baudelaire, The Letters of Gustave Flaubert, Paul Gaugain’s Intimate Journal, Life and Death of Mr. Badman by John Bunyan, Max Havelaar by Multatuli, Jacques the Fatalist by Denis Diderot, Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres by Hugh Blair, Life of William Blake by Alexander Gilchrist, Mercier and Camier by Samuel Beckett, The Innerworld of the Outerworld of the Innerworld by Peter Handke, Waste Books by G. C. Lichtenberg, A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel, Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin, The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, Niebla by Miguel de Unamuno, Spring’s Awakening by Frank Wedekind, Bouvard and Pecuchet by Gustave Flaubert, Richard II by Shakespeare.

Artists: Everyone.

Movies: Too many to list.

Eckleburg thanks BillYarrow. Do you have new work published here at Eckleburg or elsewhere? Add your Selfie Interview and share the news with our 10,000+ reading and writing community. If you have a new book out or upcoming, join our Eckleburg Book Club and let our readers know about it.