The VOICES Reading series concluded on Thursday, April 26 with Hannah Tinti, novelist and editor-in-chief of One Story Magazine. The final reading was held in Cole Cinema, rather than the usual location for the VOICES readings, Daugherty-Palmer Commons (DPC).
Assistant Professor of English Jerry Gabriel, who has worked with Tinti on One Story Magazine, introduced the speaker. “It’s important to note that Hannah is a tireless worker for literary fiction,” Gabriel said. “As editor of One Story, Hannah has jumpstarted the careers of many young writers.”
Gabriel also commented on Tinti’s collection of short stories, “Animal Crackers,” which explores the animalistic side of human nature. According to Gabriel, Tinti “uses animals as a lens through which we see ourselves. These stories will shock you . . . this book is as alive as most of its animals are.”
Tinti cites her inspiration to write suspense as coming from her experience of growing up in Salem, Massachusettes.
“When people meet me, they say, ‘you look like such a nice young woman, why do you write such dark and creepy things?’ Then I tell them I grew up in Salem,” Tinti said. “Salem is Halloween 365 days a year, so I feel very comfortable in the suspense genre.”
The reading began with an interesting piece about Tinti’s experience as a child injuring her left arm in a graveyard, a story that she submitted as part of “The Post-it Note Diaries” project. This project involved a series of post-it note illustrations that coincided with the story, which created a comic-like effect as Tinti read her piece. The story was well received by the audience, and resembled a dark fairytale or ghost story.
Another source of inspiration she felt contributed to her work was real-life events, however this does not occur on a conscious level. Tinti claims that she will often write pieces with ties to her past life events subconsciously.
“One thing I learned over the years is to trust my unconscious mind,” Tinti said. “Even when you don’t intend to write about something, you still write about it. Things that happen end up following you.”
Tinti’s best-selling novel, “The Good Thief” has won a variety of awards, including the American Library Association’s Alex Award and the Quality Paperback Book Club’s New Voices Award.
According to Tinti, “The Good Thief” is about the idea of resurrection and rebirth, and is set in New England in the 1800’s. The novel is about an orphan boy named Ren, who gets caught up helping “Resurrection Men”, a name for grave robbers of the time-period. According to the writer, it was only when she nearly finished the novel that she realized that she had written Ren as having lost his left arm – perhaps stemming from her own subconscious memory of cutting her left arm when she was young.
“That’s an example of your subconscious making connections that you aren’t even aware are happening,” Tinti said.
Tinti concluded her reading with a question and answer session, where she gave away a wishing stone and a variety of prizes to students who asked questions. In response to a question about her process as a writer, Tinti admitted that she does not plot her stories before writing them.
“The trick is, if you are bored while you’re writing, whoever is reading it will also be bored. And so I ask myself, ‘What is the craziest thing that could happen?’ And then I do it,” Tinti said. “First draft: go crazy. That’s what I always tell all my students.”
According to Tinti, her greatest challenge as a writer is the actual writing part, and she cites rejection as the second greatest challenge. “You have to learn to become hard,” Tinti added. “Every submission you send out, expect to be rejected, and create a ritual to deal with it. You have to figure out what works for you.”