Myfanwy Collins lives in New England. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, Cream City Review, AGNI, Swivel, Lilies and Cannonballs Review, In Posse Review, Exquisite Corpse, Pindeldyboz, Smokelong Quarterly, FRiGG, The Boston Globe, The Boston Phoenix, and others.
She began her blog, Read by Myfanwy, as a searchable collection of the books, stories, and poems she reads, but soon began to catalog the most intimate and mundane details of her life there as well.
Simon Owens: As someone who has had both short fiction and nonfiction published, is there one you prefer over the other? Which do you write more of?
Myfanwy Collins: I suppose IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m more comfortable writing fiction as it is not quite as personal as nonfiction. I write about 75% fiction and 25% nonfiction. With that said, I find an unexpected freedom in writing nonfiction, using it as a way to break down walls, reveal secrets, speak honestly. Luckily, I have managed to not piss off my family yet, which is a good thing.
Simon Owens: How has your experience been with writing for The Boston Globe? Are they flexible in what they allow you to write about?
Myfanwy Collins: Well, this is a boring response, but I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t actually write for them exclusivelyÃ¢â‚¬â€I have only written for them from time to time as a freelancer. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know whether they are flexible or not as IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve only been given assignments by an editor, who gives me a topic IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m to research and write about.
Simon Owens: Do you feel that book reviews in blogs differ from book reviews in mainstream publications? I’ve seen some bloggers say that readers trust them a lot more with book recommendations, do you find this to be true?
Myfanwy Collins: IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m interested in hearing what your average reader finds compelling in what they readÃ¢â‚¬â€my impression is that thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s less of an axe to grind. As for the reviews I write, I hope IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m clear in stating that I am not a critic (and do not intend to be one), rather I only write about books I like because I only read books I like. The greatest joy for me is when writers whose books IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve written about send me notes thanking me or telling me how pleased they are that I understood a certain aspect of the book that had not been clear to others.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not sure if the folks who read my blog trust my reviews more than mainstream reviews or not, but I believe that they know my taste at this point and are sometimes willing to take a gamble in reading something I have talked about. Whatever the outcome, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not in the business of selling books. I simply love to read and love to talk about what IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve read.
Simon Owens: I noticed that you have a lot of excerpts from Ursula K. Le Guin’s Steering the Craft, is there a particular book on writing that you like best?
Myfanwy Collins: My workshop leader at the Tin House writers workshop this past July was Dorothy Allison (a brilliant writer and generous teacher) and she recommended the Le Guirn book to us. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t read many books on writing, but I must say Ã¢â‚¬Å“Steering the CraftÃ¢â‚¬Â is at the top of any list. Le Guin has a great deal of passion for her subject and is never telling the reader to do or not do a certain thing, rather she provides options.
Other writing books I have read and learned from are: Anne LammottÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Å“Bird by Bird,Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Writing LifeÃ¢â‚¬Â by Annie Dillard, and Stephen KochÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Modern Library WriterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Workshop.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Simon Owens: What upcoming book publications are you looking forward to the most?
Myfanwy Collins: There are so many I am looking forward to. In particular,
Ellen Meister, whose excellent debut novel Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA was published by Avon-Morrow in August, has another book called The Smart One coming out, I believe, next summer.
Jim TomlinsonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 2006 Iowa Short Fiction Award winning, Things Kept, Things Left Behind (which is apparently already released but hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t shipped from all booksellers yet). I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t wait to read this book.
Pia Ehrhardt has a book coming out next summer and then another book the summer after that (both with MacAdam/Cage)Ã¢â‚¬â€very much looking forward to these two books.
Ron CurrieÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s novel-in-stories God is Dead which will be published by Viking next yearÃ¢â‚¬â€have read some bits of this and it will knock your socks off
Patry Francis has The LiarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Diary coming out in winter of 2007 with Dutton–looking forward to that one!
Kirsten Menger-Anderson has a short story collection coming out with Algonquin sometime next year, I believe. She writes astounding stuff.
Last but not least, I believe Laila LalamiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s next novel comes out next year, again with Algonquin. If you have not already read her first book, Hope and Other Dangerous PursuitsÃ¢â‚¬â€I would suggest you do read it.
Simon Owens: What are the five blogs you’d recommend to supplement the reading of your own?
Myfanwy Collins: Only five! I read dozens of blogs a day. Here are just a few of the blogs I try to never miss:
Susan Henderson (her brand new blog is launching soonÃ¢â‚¬â€be on the look out for it)