Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth Gonzalez James.
Elizabeth’s stories and essays have appeared in The Idaho Review, The Rumpus, PANK, and elsewhere, and have received numerous Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations. She is also a regular contributor to Ploughshares Blog. Her debut novel Mona at Sea was a finalist in the 2019 SFWP Literary Awards judged by Carmen Maria Machado, and is out now. We’ll be discussing her book and her writing process in today’s interview.
In this episode Elizabeth and I discuss:
- How she wrote about an unemployed character in an interesting and refreshing way.
- The importance of assembling a good critique group and reading good craft books.
- Why persistence and patience are major parts of the publishing journey.
Plus, her #1 tip for writers.
About Elizabeth Gonzalez James
Elizabeth Gonzalez James’s stories and essays have appeared in The Idaho Review, The Rumpus, PANK, and elsewhere, and have received numerous Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations. She is also a regular contributor to Ploughshares Blog. Her debut novel Mona at Sea was a finalist in the 2019 SFWP Literary Awards judged by Carmen Maria Machado, and is available now anywhere books are sold.
Here is the list of writing books that Elizabeth recommends during her interview:
- On Writing by Stephen King
- The Art and Craft of Novel Writing by Oakley Hall
- The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot by Charles Baxter
Here are the books by former teachers that Elizabeth references during her interview:
A darkly funny coming-of-age tale set against the backdrop of the Great Recession that takes the audience on a wild journey through a strange, uncertain modern America. For fans of Chloe Caldwell’s I’ll Tell You in Person and Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation.
Mona Mireles is a quintessential overachiever: a former spelling bee champion and valedictorian of her college class, she has a sterling résumé and a wall of plaques and medals in her bedroom that stretches floor to ceiling. She’s also broke, unemployed, back at home with her parents, and completely adrift in life and love.
Mona is seven months out of college and desperately trying to reassemble the pieces of her life after the Wall Street job she had waiting for her post-graduation dissolves in the wake of the Great Recession. When her reaction to losing her job goes viral and she is publicly branded the “Sad Millennial,” Mona begins a downward spiral into self-pity, bitterness, and late-night drunken binges on cat videos. Mona’s the sort who says exactly the right thing at absolutely the wrong moments, seeing the world through a cynic’s eyes.
Set in suburban Tucson amid the financial and social malaise of the early 2000s, 23-year-old Mona must not only find a job, but quickly learn to navigate the complexities of adult relationships within the black hole of her parents’ shattering marriage.
At her mother’s urging, Mona grudgingly joins a support group for job seekers, and slowly begins to see that all is not lost, and that perhaps losing the job on Wall Street was a blessing in disguise. She might even learn what it is she finds meaningful in life. The question is: Will she be brave enough to go after it?
If you decide to check out any of the books on this page, we hope you’ll do so via the Amazon affiliate links provided, where if you choose to purchase via the link DIY MFA gets a referral fee at no cost to you. As always, thank you for supporting DIY MFA!
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Until next week, keep writing and keep being awesome!