On Sunday, October 29th the Broadway Theatre Center’s lobby will be filled with published Wisconsin authors before, during, and after performances of Renaissance Theaterworks’ production of SEX WITH STRANGERS. The authors appearing from 1:00pm to 5:00pm on Sunday are: Cari Taylor-Carson, Christi Craig, Kathy Lanzarotti, Mel Miskimen, Pam Parker, Lisa Rivero, and Kim Suhr. They represent memoir, non-fiction, humor, and short stories.

As an advance introduction to the authors, Renaissance (RTW) asked them questions related to their writing and some of the conflicts presented in the play SEX WITH STRANGERS by Laura Eason.

Christi Craig

RTW: What inspired you to write? 

CHRISTI: I admit, jealousy inspired me in the beginning. Upset that a friend of mine had the money, the time, and a nanny to quit work for a year and pursue her writing, I complained to another friend, over and over, about the unfairness of it all. Finally, that friend sighed and said, “Why don’t you just start writing.”

Oh. Okay. Sometimes starting is the hardest part.

Now, I’m inspired by people, places, and things. By my grandmother, who raised nine children on a Depression budget in a small Texas town. By old empty buildings and cemeteries. By lines of poetry, like this from Patrick Phillips’ “Elegy for a Broken Machine:”

even the silence, / if you listened, / meant something.

In one of my favorite books, Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert says:

[C]reativity is the hallmark of our species. We have the sense for it; we have the curiosity for it…we have the language and the excitement and the innate connection to the divinity for it. If you’re alive, you’re a creative person.

We are creatures who seek out story, because we are creatures built on story; they settle in and around us all the time. If you’re paying attention, inspiration is everywhere.

 

RTW: How important is it to you that your friends, your partner, your family members read and like your writing?

CHRISTI: Majorly! Except…. While I want my friends, my sisters, my husband to read and love my work, looking for affirmation of this kind from those in my immediate circles can be dangerous. So often, we want people closest to us to be our biggest fans. And they are in many ways. But when we hand them our work to read, the response we get isn’t usually the response we want.

People who know me personally, or intimately, have certain expectations based on the “me” they see every day (not the characters in my fiction). A friend at work once told me that I have a great sense of humor. Then, she read a short story of mine about a young woman who dressed bodies in a funeral home. She laughed, a bit nervous, and said she liked it. But we don’t talk much about my writing anymore. My husband knows my tendency to be a worse-case-scenario kind of person. I don’t think he expects me to hand him anything light-hearted. But when I asked him to read a collection of pieces about characters looking for redemption, for solace, for relief, he gave them back and said, “Some of them don’t seem finished. Some of them are weird.” I have yet to ask my sisters what they really think.

So that question—how important is it that they love our writing?—might need a quick edit: how important is it that they love us as a writer?

That’s easy: very important. My husband and I don’t like the same movies. Why would we enjoy reading the same stories? Even so, he applauds my successes, encourages my attempts, reminds me on the bad days that pursuing my passion is a good thing. And that Is priceless.

 

Christi Craig works as a sign language interpreter by day and moonlights as a writer, teacher, and editor. She was part of the novel acquisitions team during the 2016 submissions call for Forest Avenue Press and served as an Assistant Editor at Compose Literary Journal, as well as an Associate Editor for Noble / Gas Quarterly. Her own stories and essays have appeared online and in print, and she received an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train’s Family Matters Competition, 2010. Visit her website at christicraig.com.

 

Follow these links to learn more about: Renaissance Theaterworks, SEX WITH STRANGERS, Wisconsin Romance Writers.