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19 Rounds with Michele Finn Johnson

We were so happy to welcome Michele Finn Johnson to the team this summer! As Assistant Fiction Editor, she works with Katie Flynn to bring amazing short stories right to your door. (Or, you know, screen.) Check out one of her latest stories, "Brittle Arms" in Necessary Fiction, and get to know her through our 19 Rounds:

1. Early bird or night owl?

Major night owl.

2. What was your worst haircut?

It was an inside job at one of those beauty supply stores. For a solid month afterwards, I pulled on the ends of my hair, hoping to stimulate regrowth. The stylist gave me the best recipe for margaritas though—2:1:7 Tequila : Cointreau : Limeade. Add limes and oranges. They are dynamite!

3. If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Springsteen’s "Thunder Road." There’s so much hope and joy packed into it.

4. Can you roll your tongue?


5. Mayonnaise: yes or no?

Hell to the no power.

6. What is your least favorite word to come across when reading a book or story?


7. Which movie was better than the book?

Is this a real question? It can’t be a real question. The truth is, I watch so few movies.

8. What was your first concert?

Styx – Paradise Theater Tour, 1980. I seriously cried when they came on stage, amazed that they were real live people. If that wasn’t bad enough, I saw them play in a tiny casino in Tucson last year and—yes—I cried again.

9. It's Friday night. You're home alone. What did you order for dinner and what's on the TV?

I probably microwaved a frozen green chili corn tamale and made some Spanish rice. I’m absolutely watching a Dateline Murder mystery and then obsessing over all of the creepy noises that my house makes.

10. How do you take your coffee?

As a latte from my kick-ass machine. I’d travel with it if I could, but it’s the size of a minivan.

11. What expression do you use that most people have never heard?

When I’m nervous, I say I’m “making buttons.” It’s a phrase my mother always said, but I’ve no idea where it came from. My grandfather owned the South Philadelphia Buttonhole Factory, so buttons and buttonholes are in my blood.

12. What movie have you seen the most times?

Dirty Dancing. Judge away, but I blame my step daughter and Barrelhouse Writer Camp for this!

13. What is the best thing you cook or bake?

Homemade gluten-free manicotti. It’s a recipe from my late Godmother, Aunt Dolly, and it came with its very own ghost story that I really need to figure out how to write.

14. Finish this sentence: More people should be reading _______________.

Why only one answer? Literary Magazines/Women authors/Poetry/First time authors/Work by people that they know.

15. Favorite time-waster?

Checking my Submittable queue.

16. What's the hardest thing about writing?

Revision, mainly knowing when to stop.

17. What's the best thing about writing?

Writing those rare sentences that make me feel like some type of magic just happened.

18. What is your favorite sentence from a short story or poem?

“He painted a sign saying LOVE and hung it from the pole and another that said FORGIVE? and then he died in the hall with the radio on and we sold the house to a young couple who yanked out the pole and left it by the road on garbage day."

From George Saunders’ short story, “Sticks.” It gut punches me every time.

19. What question were you hoping to be asked?

What is your favorite sentence from an essay? Currently, it’s from “Mr. and Mrs. B” by Alexander Chee.

“And I couldn’t help but imagine him in that pool in Connecticut with the young male staffer, swimming underwater, the walls glowing with light, their naked bodies incandescent, just like at Yale, and—maybe—wishing there was some mark on the boy he could easily see.”

Of course, you have to read the entire essay to see how freaking brilliant this sentence really is. And you should read Chee’s entire essay collection, actually (add this to my answer #14; “How to Write an Autobiographical Novel”). God, I’d love to have Saunders and Chee over for my dynamite margaritas!


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