We had the good fortune of connecting with Miranda Williams and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Miranda, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico–the hottest place on earth–and moved to Phoenix–somehow hotter than the hottest place on earth-when I was sixteen. I was born to a family of mechanics and engineers so I have often wondered where my love for writing came from. It has been concluded that my grandmother was the primary perpetrator. I used to spend the night at her house a lot; this was very strategic of us because when all of my other siblings and cousins left, she would drive me to Goodwill and let me pick out all the books I wanted. We’d return with a teetering stack of dilapidated fantasy paperbacks and dust-riddled classics. My first literary love was Anne of Green Gables; she read it with me–we had a little book club with tea and cookies and the whole getup–and allowed me to watch the movie over and over no matter how tired she was of it. Though I didn’t start writing regularly until college, I took my first stab at fiction when I was about thirteen. The novel was essentially a sequel to The Hunger Games with a dash of X-Men and Days of Our Lives; written in a garish Lisa Frank notebook hidden in the depths of my closet, it will forever remain a mystery to the world.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
One of the most important aspects of excelling as a writer, I think, is allowing yourself to be changed. My writing from two weeks ago is completely different than my writing today–my writing from two or three years ago in nearly unrecognizable. The books you read, the professors you learn from, and the experiences you have can and should alter your art, and I believe allowing that to happen can be a big challenge for artists. When I started writing, I was certain that fantasy and science fiction was my route. I clung to that identity for a while. It was only until I accepted that the conflicts and characters that I was drawn to belonged in this world that my work really began to take off. Now, I find myself drifting towards magical realism–botanists who turn into their plants and women born with bird cages for ribs–and experimental language where nouns are sometimes verbs and one word is a whole sentence, and I am excited to see where this allows my art to go. Currently, I am working on a novel that is centered around four young women who all live in a all-woman commune as well as a collection of my published short stories while finishing my Masters in literature and running Ember Chasm Review. It has been a wild and exploratory ride to get here–I feel as though I have been on a safari, except there is no tour guide or jeep to turn to when you get lost. Writing can be a lonely and daunting venture. Overcoming that loneliness and fright is rough and it becomes even more difficult when you add the rejection involved with publishing. My advice for this is to acknowledge that it is scary, and then move forward, facing it head on. Taking entire responsibility for your art despite the vulnerability and discomfort is one of the best things you can do for your writing. Do you want someone to discuss your work with? Make the effort to join a workshop. Do you want to publish something? Submit to magazines. Know what you want from your craft and force yourself to take the necessary steps to get there. It may sound blunt, but no one else is going to do the work for you when it comes to art; sometimes, you must be willing to take a plunge into the deep end. However, though it is scary, bravery often pays off.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Whenever I travel anywhere, coffee is always my first priority. One of my favorite spots in Arizona has been Coffee Rush–I love all their locations. I write there nearly every day. They just have such a great atmosphere. Good vibes all around and the drinks are excellent. In true writer fashion, I drink the most caffeinated coffee possible. My go-to order is a mint mocha frost with two extra shots and black coffee instead of milk. After coffee, we might want to hit up some of the fantastic bookstores here. Changing Hands is great; with both used and new books, they have an unmatched collection. I think its great that they give a space to authors who might not be offered one in the chain bookstores of the world. For lunch, I would take my friend to one of the several excellent vegan restaurants in Phoenix. Seed Shack and Green are two notable mentions. There are also several artsy places that are must-sees. FilmBar is a great place to watch a new independent film–there is even space to discuss it with friends after. Additionally, Wonderspaces in Scottsdale provides a unique museum-going experience that is incomparable to any other. Lastly, after a busy day, I think Four Silos in Gilbert is a great place to chill, listen to some live music, and enjoy some local beers and wines.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First, I must give a shoutout to my best friend and business partner, Nathan. He is an excellent writer and editor. I don’t think either of us would be where we are without the other. In the creative world, it can be difficult to find an artistic counterpart–someone to be there for you to brainstorm, edit, support, encourage–without butting heads in some way. Nathan has provided unconditional friendship and support, and I would like to think I have provided the same. As we both continue to grow as writers and our magazine, Ember Chasm Review, flourishes, I am consistently reminded that there is no one else I would have rather embarked on my creative journey with. I would also like to give a shoutout to my amazing workshop professors at Mesa Community College. Amy Lerman and Jeremy Broyles have taught and still teach me so much about the art of fiction. Without them, my love for writing and teaching others to write would have remained unexplored.
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