Interview: Flash Fire 5 with J.S. Graustein

J.S. Graustein knows how to get it done. She’s the managing editor of Folded Word Press (of which the equally ambitious Jessie Carty—Shape of a Box—is founding editor), and the creator and curator of the Twitter-zine phenoms PicFic and Form.Reborn. All three of these endeavors, with rumors of a fourth in the works, bustle beneath the umbrella of Folded Word Press. The collaboration of these two artistic juggernauts (that reside on opposite coasts) is probably the biggest news of 2009, with the inception of the Flash Fire 5 a close second. But not only does J.S. Graustein edit, publish, and bend over backwards for her contributors, she also writes herself. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming here at Flash Fire 500, Wamack: A Journal of the Arts, and Rattlesnake Review. Take a peek at her blog for a complete listing. Despite her myriad responsibilities (have I mentioned she is a wife and a mother as well?) she found the time to take a crack at the Flash Fire 5…then she went back to work.

1) What's the most ridiculous thing you've worn when writing?

My swimsuit. No wait, you said "ridiculous" not "frightening." It would have to be my anti-mosquito gear. I love to take my journal along while exploring my in-laws' woods every summer. But sitting on a shaded granite boulder in July requires a Bug-Off cap (has a giant flap over the ears & neck), a yellow long-sleeved XXL men's fishing shirt, grungy jeans, and brown knee-high rubber boots. My daughter refuses to be seen with me in it, even by the ferns.

2) Who is your greatest writing influence?

Madeleine L'Engle. She wrote for kids. She wrote for grown-ups. She wrote prose. She wrote poetry. And she wrote me a gentle letter when I sent her my gruesome poetry at sixteen. To this day, A Wrinkle in Time evokes sensory flashes: beards, acoustic guitar, Velamints, pipe tobacco. I had a massive crush on the teacher that read it to us in 4th grade. Me-ow!

3) Did you ever imagine you'd be doing an interview at an obscure ezine called Flash Fire 500 one day?

Depends on the universe. In the one my physical body inhabits while sending kids to school and walking to the grocery store? No. Never. But my mind warps in and out of four others. In one of them, I'm an arrogant man that can't believe it took this long.

4) In terms of writing, where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Still supported by the same brilliant patron of the arts. He'll give me a grant to write for a year amongst the graves of my ancestors in Northamptonshire. I'll invite him to come along. Despite all propriety, we'll skip town together under cover of darkness and leave my newly-adult children to forage the garden for themselves.

5) You crash a party out in the middle of nowhere. There are celebrities in each corner of the room, but you can only visit with one . Corner #1: Oprah. Corner #2: The Dalai Lama. Corner #3: Kermit the Frog. Corner #4: Dustin Diamond a.k.a Screech from "Saved by the Bell." Who do you talk to?

First of all, I've never crashed a party in my life. I can't even force myself to attend when I'm invited. But if YOU dragged me there, it would have to be Kermit. First, I would ask him to absolve me of the horrible sins I committed against his kin while getting my biology degrees. Then I'd beg him for a kiss in hopes of some magical transformation. Miss Piggy can bite me.