Winners of this year's Fiction 101 contest aren't just creatively succinct, they're also an interesting group of folks.
We chatted with Tyler Christensen, Daniel Clausen, Elisabeth Sharp McKetta and first place winner Jesus Jose Silveyra Tapia and you can read about their inspirations, ambitions, accomplishments and more after the jump. Read more about them and their First Thursday reading at Rediscovered Bookshop in this week's issue of Boise Weekly.
Honorable mention winner Tyler Christensen, "The Anniversary"
Inspiration: Realism, real-life. People facing extraordinary situations.
When did you start writing? "[When] I was very little." Editor of the high school newspaper, wrote his first manuscript at age 15, called "The Death Taker." "It was really bizarre."
Greatest achievement thus far: Placing in this contest, being featured on Writer's Block. "2010 was just a great year."
Future ambitions: Grad school, write short stories and novels, teach creative writing, give back to the Boise community. "Get my hands creatively dirty."
Advice for other writers: "Just write. There's no such thing as writers' block. Just do it ... Be resilient and take everything in stride."
What did you read as a kid? Catcher in the Rye.
What are you into reading now? Short story collections by Anthony Doerr and Joyce Williams. "I learn a lot from published writers, especially about technique and sentence structure."
On fiction: "Fiction is cathartic—it's the way I make sense of life's most absurd moments. It is an opportunity to activate the senses and engage outside of life. I hope it's cathartic for readers as well."
Honorable mention winner Daniel Clausen, "What a Shot Can Do"
Inspiration: Idaho's landscape and outdoor activities, epecially those found in Southern Idaho
When did you start writing? High school.
Greatest achievement thus far: Non-literary—climbing Mt. Borah in 2008. Literary—"Still working on it."
Future ambitions: Own a horse.
Advice for other writers: "All the writers I admire are first and foremost observant. Be observant and find time to put words on the page."
What did you read as a kid? E.B. White, Little House on the Prairie, the Red Wall books
What are you into reading now? Literature about the American west and German poetry
Third-place winner Elisabeth Sharp McKetta, "Milk Traps"
Inspiration: Life experiences
When did you start writing? At about 19-20, seriously anyway
Greatest achievement thus far: Non-literary—new daughter. Literary—"The ones I'm most excited about are still in the works."
Future ambitions: "Continue to balance being a writer and being a person. There's never a divide between life and writing."
Advice for other writers: "Remember that it's a privilege to [write]. We do it because it's something that we love. Go easy on yourself and have fun."
What did you read as a kid? Chronicles of Narnia, anything with really great characterization.
What are you into reading now? Shakespeare's plays, still anything with great characterization. "I'm a huge Harry Potter fan."
First place winner Jesus Jose Silveyra Tapia, "Radio Sound Designer"
Inspiration: Frustration and ignorance. " I try to create worlds that function on inner rules, because reality doesn't seem to need none. Truth is really stranger than fiction."
When did you start writing? "I started writing lyrics when I was 16 and fiction at 26. It was mainly my frustration in trying to understand life that led me to write subjectively, metaphorically. Frustration wise, it worked. I felt better after. But I knew I wasn't any wiser than the day before, so, out of ignorance, I kept trying."
Greatest achievement thus far: This Fiction 101 award, and winning a nationally-recognized contest for a short story entitled "El Circo: A Closer Look Into the Lives of Jugglers."
Future ambitions: Finish first book.
Advice for other writers: Read like crazy; write everyday; be critical to the point of cynicism with your own work; don't get discouraged when your piece is rejected (it will happen a lot); write for yourself; and read like crazy.
What did you read as a kid? "I had a lot of children's books when I was a kid: Mexican folklore, legends, myths, all that, so the first book I bought was a collection of terror short stories, when I was 14. It was a terrific collection of Poe, Stoker, Lovecraft, all the best. I couldn't get enough of it, especially from "The Monkey's Paw" by Jacobs, which I still consider one of the best short stories ever written.
What are you into reading now? Spanish Golden Age theater (specifically on Juan Ruiz de Alarcon's works, but also on Lope, Calderon and the subjacent schools of thought like Seneca's and Tacitus', Latin American short stories: Cortazar, Borges, Rulfo, Monterroso, Pacheco, Parra, etc. "From your side of the continent I love Poe, Hemingway and Faulkner, all of whom were key writers for the Latin Americans."