I’ve Got Questions for Tara Lynn Masih

Editor’s Note: This exchange is part of a series of brief interviews with emerging writers of recent or forthcoming books. If you enjoyed it, please visit other interviews in the I’ve Got Questions feature.

How We Disappear by Tara Lynn Masih
  • What’s the title of your book? Fiction? Nonfiction? Poetry? Who is the publisher and what’s the publication date?

How We Disappear is a story collection that includes mostly stories of standard length, some flash fiction, and a novella. The print version is published by Press 53 and the audio is published by Blackstone Publishing. Both release around September 13.

  • In a couple of sentences, what’s the book about?

Since it’s a compilation of a variety of stories, it’s not about one thing, though the overall connecting theme is the many and varied repercussions of “disappearance,” both literal and metaphorical.

  • What’s the book’s genre (for fiction and nonfiction) or primary style (for poetry)?

This is literary fiction, but my fiction does tend to cross the boundary of contemporary and historical, traditional and experimental. So fans of historical fiction would enjoy this as well as fans of literary fiction (I hope!).

  • What’s the nicest thing anyone has said about the book so far?

I’ve been lucky to get some wonderful blurbs and early reviews. I love everything that has been said so far. One reviewer came up with this original description that I thought was so cool: “[her stories] twist & whip . . . billow & ripple.” But what do I think is the nicest? “It’s a difficult thing for a writer to leave no traces of herself in a story, to let the characters and places speak only for themselves, yet she’s achieved that in every one.” I know I’m not the most accomplished literary writer out there, but I do take pride in the belief that each of my stories is unique and represents a bit of humanity, not myself. So this statement from a reviewer I respect meant a lot to me and was very nice indeed!

  • What book or books is yours comparable to or a cross between? [Is your book like Moby Dick or maybe it’s more like Frankenstein meets Peter Pan?]

I honestly don’t know how to compare this book to another one. Marketers struggle with that dilemma with my writing. I kind of do my own thing. And experiment. So one story will be in a different style than another. I guess I would look to my book blurbers’ books for perhaps some similarities, as that’s why they were selected to blurb: Tina May Hall, Michael Parker, Claire Boyles, to name a few.

  • Why this book? Why now?

I think we are all struggling with the future, which has become this vast unknown “country,” what with the current war in Ukraine, global warming, and the growing ecological disasters our families and neighbors are dealing with and the rollback of rights many of us felt were basic. Our minds are trying to cope and reshape and find resilience. I hope there’s some of that in this book, paths to coping. And we all deal with the issue of disappearance. It’s universal. I know it’s especially affecting younger people. So, that’s probably why this theme in my writing came to the foreground this past year.

  • Other than writing this book, what’s the best job you’ve ever had?

I was a freelance proofreader and editor for many years. Proofreading many of our best writers over the centuries and editing many of our best contemporary writers was a privilege and a joy. Along with the benefit of getting paid to read, I know the job improved my own writing.

  • What do you want readers to take away from the book?

I want people to remember, when they put the book aside, that the best choices we make lead to the best lives lived. And to learn to follow instincts that get stronger and are honed with wisdom and age. And that no one disappears entirely, ever. And that the wild is there to help us cope.

  • What food and/or music do you associate with the book?

Lemons. And eggs, any style. Read the book to find out why!

  • What book(s) are you reading currently?

Just completed Matt Bell’s Appleseed, and am on to Robert Scotellaro’s Ways to Read the World and Elissa Washuta’s White Magic.

Tara Lynn Masih

Learn more about Tara at her website.

Follow her on Goodreads.

Buy the book from the publisher (Press 53), Amazon, or Bookshop.org.

About the author

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