Writing when there are bills to pay: An exchange with author Doug Crandell
By Monica Prince
This year’s Literary Awards Program had stiff competition and stellar manuscripts for judge Benjamin Percy to review. Author Doug Crandell placed as one of two runners-up for his manuscript Tornado Season. This gritty tragicomic memoir spans three decades in Indiana, while the Crandell family works fast food, farms, and factories in a grueling attempt to reach their dreams. In the tradition of hardscrabble memoirs, Crandell unravels a time and past that has placed its indelible footprint firmly on our present lives.
Crandell is an author and teacher in Georgia. He’s received awards and endowments from the Sherwood Anderson Foundation, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Kellogg Writers Series, Hohenberg Foundation, and the Jentel Artist Residency. An essay of Crandell’s appears in the Pushcart Prize 2017. One of his short stories was chosen by NPR’s Glynn Washington for the 2017 Page-to-Screen Award. Crandell is a regular contributor to Glimmer Train and the SUN Magazine, and is represented by Sterling Lord Literistic in NYC. He earned an MFA from Queens University. Follow him on Facebook and check out his website.
Here Crandell gives a brief interview with the Santa Fe Writers Project’s Monica Prince about his life and work.
Monica Prince: Where are you from? Where do you live now?
Doug Crandell: I grew up on farms in Wabash, Indiana. I’ve lived in Georgia for twenty-two years now.
MP: What is your educational and work background? Have either of these had an impact on your relationship with writing?
DC: I have an undergraduate degree in psychology and an MFA, but my work in mental health and disability inform my writing the most.
MP: How did you first get involved with writing? What does your writing practice look like?
DC: I started writing seriously twenty years ago, and submitted to literary journals. Then came an agent and publishing books, fiction, memoir, and some crime. I write most every day which is challenging since my full-time job involves lots of travel.
MP: What are you working on now?
DC: I’m working on another book [of] fiction.
MP: Do you have a job other than writing?
DC: I am appointed as Public Service Faculty at the Institute on Human Development and Disability at the University of Georgia. I work on projects related to mental health, disability, employment, and poverty.
MP: Why did you decide to enter the Literary Award Contest with SFWP?
DC: I’d read several winning titles [from SFWP] and was impressed by the quality.
MP: What do you plan to do with the prize money?
DC: There are always bills to pay!
MP: How do you think submitting to contests impacts your future writing life?
DC: I’ve always entered contests, and it keeps me motivated and provides great feedback.
MP: What advice do you have for writers just starting to make this their priority?
DC: Write when it’s fun and when it’s a drag and things seem to happen!
Monica Prince is the 2017-2018 Creative Writing Fellow in Poetry at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania. She received her MFA in poetry at Georgia College & State University, and her BA in English Creative Writing at Knox College. She currently writes and reviews for the Santa Fe Writers Project, as well as reviews and edits for Aquarius Press. Her work can be found in MadCap Review, The Sula Collective, The Shade Journal,TRACK//FOUR, and others. Her choreopoem, Sestina: A Black Woman in Six Parts, will premiere in April 2018 in Selinsgrove, PA, where she teaches, writes, and performs.