Interview with Amie McGraham
Amie describes herself as a writer, runner and dog wrangler who builds worlds with words. She writes raw and lyrical stories that boldly explore life, death and family ties. A favorite of mine, is the heartbreaking, yet life-affirming "Sunrise Service." A story about how we choose to say goodbye that appeared in Reservoir Road Literary Review.
When asked is there anything else you'd like to share, Amie replied: "I have a muse in both worlds I inhabit. In the desert, my black lab, Max. On the island, my mother’s ghost."
Talking with her, you get the sense that she's someone who doesn't like to sit still, always moving and evolving. She is frenetic in the best way!
Meet the author:
Amie McGraham grew up on an island in Maine. She holds a BA in English from Arizona State University, and splits her time between Maine and Arizona. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Brevity, Wild Roof Journal, Reservoir Road Literary Journal, Portland Press Herald, Goose River Short Story Anthology, Maine Magazine, Exposition Review and elsewhere. Her flash blog, This Demented Life, is followed internationally. She is currently writing a novella-in-tweets and enjoys not always finishing the story.
Amie's picks were: 1-3-4-14-17-20-33-38-41-44-46
Tell me five items you have in your refrigerator right now.
AM: Protein shakes, protein bars, copious amounts of Diet Coke, a bag of baby spinach (wilted) and half a can of dog food.
When did you start writing?
AM: I wrote and illustrated my first story, “The Ironing Lady,” at age five. Even then, I was writing microstories! It went like this: “There once was a lady who loved to iron. She ironed from morning till night.” My mother, a talented writer and artist who absolutely detested ironing anything, framed the story. It still hangs on the wall of her art studio.
After a steady diet of Nancy Drews, I wrote a few mystery stories in my own “studio,” a tiny corner of the garage with a makeshift desk—an old wooden door on sawhorses.
The next forty years was a study in recklessness, wanderlust, sobriety and an unexpected sales career. The most I ever wrote then was a postcard or an email. When I quit my job seven years ago to care for my mother with dementia, I began writing in earnest.
Where is the best place you’ve ever lived?
AM: I lived in Oslo some time ago and it was one of the best years of my life. Naturally, there was a Norwegian guy involved and although we didn’t end up together, we had a fabulous time gallivanting around the country. Christmastime was truly magical there—Julebord feasts, candlelit shops, snowy cobblestone streets—even if it was only light for five hours a day.
What is the shortest piece you’ve ever written?
AM: A 10-word story. I’m currently tweeting a novella, using the hashtag #thisdementedlife, and often use the daily word prompts from various literary writers. Some of my favorites are @PenYourTen, @12wordstories and numerous challenges from #vss (very short story) multiverse.
What is a surprising fact not many people know about you?
AM: My grandfather was an extremely gifted artist and poet, who illustrated Hemingway’s "Green Hills of Africa" and Fitzgerald’s "Tender Is The Night," among others.
Do you keep track of your rejections and what’s this year’s tally?
AM: Honestly, I have no idea how many rejections I’ve received. I have only kept one which was so just plain bizarre, I couldn’t bring myself to delete it. I won’t share the publication name or the actual response, but I threw it out to other writers and followers in the Twitterverse because I needed snarky humor and they did not disappoint. Best reply: “Is this a rejection letter or the plot of a Jennifer Aniston movie?”
What TV show have you just binge watched?
AM: Call My Agent! on Netflix. This was crazy good, and gave me a chance to brush up on the years of French I studied a million years ago. The characters! The personalities! The scenery! It all had me jonesing for another trip to Paris. I took my 90-year-old father on a riverboat cruise down the Seine right before the pandemic hit, and despite being trapped in a brigade of orthopedic shoes and rolling walkers, it was a spectacular way to see the country and more deeply experience my family’s French roots.
Are you part of a writer’s circle?
AM: Three, to be exact, because for me one of anything is never enough.
Midway through lockdown in 2020, I discovered Writers' Hours, virtual writing sprints hosted by London Writers’ Salon four times a day. I sporadically zoomed in a few times a week for a while, but soon made the commitment to joining and writing with 200+ writers around the globe at least once a day. My productivity increased dramatically, the accountability rocks and my writing is on fire!
I’m also part of the Substack Go! Round table, a smaller group dedicated to helping writers overcome publishing hurdles and truly understand audience and purpose though our shared experiences.
My third group, usually a dozen or so New England writers, meets monthly, at night. It’s different, writing at night, and a little out of my comfort zone, but the group is cozy, with good vibes for sharing our work.
These groups are part of my writing goal, to become more engaged in and give back to writing communities this year.
What’s your favourite piece you’ve had published, to date, and why?
AM: During the pandemic, I wrote “Last Words,” a flash CNF essay, later published in Brevity Literary Journal. When my mother got Alzheimer’s, I quit a long sales career to take care of her and I am intensely grateful we were able to spend the last six years of her life together. That journey was sweet and sorrowful and life changing and a tremendous exercise in developing compassion. This piece captures the essence of motherhood and role-reversal: how I became her mother.
Where is your ultimate getaway?
AM: Finland. This can also apply to the surprising fact not many people know about me: I am oddly fascinated by Finland. Culture, people, landscape. All appear stark at first but warm up once after a while. A trip to Finland is on my bucket list. I may never return.
What book is your writing/craft bible?
AM: I’m gonna give Stephen King a pass and go with Natalie Goldberg’s Long Quiet Highway. Don’t get me wrong, On Writing kicks ass. I’ve read every single book King ever wrote, and in my twenties, he was kind of my neighbor (I lived in a crappy apartment with a Doberman two blocks away from his compound, an eerie blood-red Victorian style manor with gables and turrets and wrought-iron bats and spider fence posts and I’d frequently see him walking down the sidewalk, head in a paperback) but Goldberg’s words touch me on a deeper level: “Writing is something you do quietly, regularly and in doing it, you face your life.”
You can catch more from Amie in the form of her newsletter, The micro mashup: weekly 100-word literary art microbursts or her blog.
You can follow her on Twitter @senior_moment_ or visit her website to dive into more of her published flash fiction and CNF.