Q (Nicolle Elizabeth): Rae, I like this Hopkins group for a few reasons. A lot of writers here at Fictionaut attended a Master’s program or an undergraduate program in writing, and the idea of a nice way to support your current course of study or from where you hold an alum bumper sticker is great. What made you decide to start the group? How is it going?
Rae Bryant: I like the idea of writing communities, and I had seen other programs grouped on Fictionaut. Writing, too often, can be such a solitary activity and to interact with other writers, in person and online, breaks the barriers. Fictionaut offers a forum for this connection, an additional “finding place” for writers on multiple levels. I love that. Apparently, I’m the lone Hopkins MA-er so far, but hope more will join soon.
What advice do you have for Fictionauters who may be considering attending a Master’s Program in writing?
Do it. If you have the resources to further your writing in program, don’t wait another minute. Caveat: I do not believe that writing programs will make an individual a writer, per se. Talent abounds outside academic programs. However, participating in a writing program-that shares a like aesthetic, very important-can offer community and support. It will push the writer to limits and beyond. May even teach the writer a few things. Ahem. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve thanked the holy gods of writer-dom that my professors were there.
When I lived in Hampden Baltimore I used to cut through your campus to get to the museum. They have one of Rodin’s thinkers in that museum. It seemed like a good place. My old roommate who teaches there thought it was a good place. Tell us about the program.
I will second Rodin. Exquisite. In respect to the program, I can’t speak for all experiences, but I can certainly tell you my experience in the Hopkins MA program. Let me begin by stating that I never applied to any other program, MA or MFA alike. The Hopkins MA program was where I wanted to go and I didn’t apply to any other programs. To my joy, they let me in. What drew me first to the program was the Conference on Craft. Alice McDermott was teaching the Fiction Workshop that year. It was an absolutely amazing workshop. There were so many fantastic award winning writers there, and we held a reading at the end. Needless to say, I was very nervous when my story was chosen for the reading. Standing in front of a National Book Award winner, Guggenheim fellow, Norton Editor, it was daunting. Fun, but daunting.
The program has many perks. You can study at your own pace. I’ve taken a two-year fast track, but I have two children and needed the flexibility to take longer, if necessary. We’ve been fortunate that I’ve been able to study straight through. My husband and children are so very supportive.
Another aspect I really enjoy is the independent study option. I’ve been able to take an independent study, which allows students to design coursework along with the professor. I studied postfeminist, postmodern literature while workshopping original fiction, one on one, with Richard Peabody, JHU faculty and editor of Gargoyle Magazine. It was fabulous, and I ended up publishing several pieces that were written during that IS, including my short story, “Stage Play in Five Acts of Her: Matinee” now at Rick Magazine (formerly Mississippi Review).
How has your Fictionaut experience been going? Any gripes, praise, suggestions?
Fictionaut is fabulous. I’ve met and made many writerly friends. It’s such a fantastic place to share work and find fun and new pieces by other writers. So much talent here. I’m honored to be included. As far as gripes, can’t say. I’m not much of a griper, to be honest.
Tell us more about you, your writing, your favorite Mid-Atlantic Region folklore?
I’m really honored to have my short story at Rick Magazine this month in the inaugural issue with Ann Beattie and T.C. Boyle and so many more fantastic authors, Roxane Gay, Gary Percesepe, Meg Pokrass…. Lynn Watson, guest editor, and Rick Barthelme are fantastic! Also psyched that the issue will be printed through Big Muddy. I also found out-on the same day, if you can believe it-that my short story “Good Girl” received an honorable mention in the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition. That was truly a shock. Upcoming I have a new short story coming out in Kill Author this month, and I’ll be guest judging at Bartleby Snopes for the Dialogue Contest. I’m head deep, right now, in a novel that I hope to have finished by the end of the year. AND I would like to point readers to Moon Milk Review‘s Issue 7, the Spain Tribute Issue. Barrelhouse is giving us a coming out party on September 18th at The Black Squirrel in D.C. All welcome. We’re also excited to have Ben Loory and Lynn Watson guest editing our monthly Prosetry Contests in September and October, respectively. You can read more about me and my writing at raebryant.com and more about Moon Milk Review at moonmilkreview.com.
Favorite folklore: The Snallygaster. I’ve been midway through a story on the beast for a while and have wanted to interview him. Apparently, he lives on Braddock Mountain, a small mountain that borders my hometown. He must be terribly shy.