Behind The Fictive Veil: An Interview with Wendy C. Ortiz


–Interview by Brian Kornell


Wendy C. Ortiz’s story “Interiors” appeared in April 2012 issue of PANK. She is the author of Excavation, a recently released memoir from Future Tense Books, about family, secrets, sex, and coming to terms with her queer identity. It is a book that spoke to me in a way that very few books have before. Ortiz writes with emotional frankness about difficult subjects, while maintaining the lyric beauty of the world around her. I had the opportunity to talk to her about the book and the process of writing it.


Brian Kornell: I’ve been thinking a lot recently about stories that demand to be told or ones, especially when it’s memoir, that a writer cannot ignore despite their best efforts to do so. Was this book like that for you? Did you have any hesitation in writing it? If you did, how did you work past that to write it?

Wendy C. Ortiz: This book spent some time being ignored (I always imagined it sitting in a corner, sulking) but when I look back at this time, I recognize now that it was steeping. My hesitations have always been about how I might be perceived once the story was out. I got some practice when “Mix Tape” was published by The Nervous Breakdown last year and in the first 24 hours of it being on the web I went through physical reactions that were all about the hesitation. Then the physical reactions passed and I was fortunate to get good feedback on the piece and knew I was heading in the right direction. That was a good way of working past any recent hesitation I might have had. Continue reading

The Lightning Room with Suzanne Farrell Smith


Interview by Brian Kornell


Suzanne Farrell Smith’s essay, “Listing to Love,” which appears in the July 2013 issue, catalogs love and loss with a focus on all the little things we can love.


1. Name your own executive staff of PITA.

A. Ann Coulter

B. James Joyce

C. My upstairs neighbor, whose apartment renovation has entered its third year

D. Al Roker

2. The piece is presented in outline form. Some items are expanded upon, such as the elevator being reprogrammed or the mix tape, while others are not. How did you choose which items to expand upon and which ones to leave more ambiguous? Did you decide this as you wrote or were these decisions made in the editing phase?

I made expansion decisions after finishing an unwieldy draft of multiple linked lists. Through revision, I decided which items to expand based on which carried more emotional weight. Revision worked like a flow chart. I asked myself, does this item mean something more significant than can be contained by its spot on the list? If not, I left it as a single item or deleted it. If it did, I pursued the meaning through expansion, which often led to a new sub-list. Continue reading