Interview with Terah Van Dusen

Q: When did you start writing?

A: I started writing stories when everybody else did…in about the 3rd grade. The difference was I really, really liked it. My family bought me a typewriter in the fifth grade, and I remember my first big story was fiction written from the perspective of a large, orange suitcase. This suitcase travelled to Hawaii, where my mother lived. Really I was trying to write memoir but writing from my perspective made me too vulnerable. Plus I thought I was “supposed” to write fiction. Luckily later I discovered memoir.

Q: Who are your biggest inspirations/your favourite writers?

A: My biggest inspirations, in no particular order, are truth-tellers: Eminem (believe it or not), Tupac, Frank McCourt, Anne Frank, Lidia Yuknavitch, Jewel, Woody Guthrie, Elizabeth Gilbert, and fiction-that-reads-like-memoir by Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander. I am sure I am forgetting some. I am blown-away daily by new gems and new reads.


Q: What time of day do you do most of your writing?

A: People are going to hate this but, whenever it strikes me. Yeah, I mean, I’m not a 9-5 writer. I find the best time to write actually, if you can manage, is right after a life-altering (large or small) event happens. Almost in-the-moment. After a fight. After a job interview. After a psychic reading. When you’re really feeling something. Also, if it works out, writing in the middle of the night is fantastic. So quiet. So people-less.

Q: Why do you write?

A: I believe I started writing because I needed to work through some shit. I guess I wasn’t as good at verbalizing things. You know, I feel like writing is polite. It’s like, people can choose whether or not to engage in your whining, your opinions, your fantasies. When you’re just talking to them they don’t have much a choice. As a writer, I can share my ideas with the world, and some will dig it and some will not. But I am not imposing my ideas on the world. Writing is an elegant art form. Just black letters on a white page. The impact is there, but it is silent. There’s something beautiful about that. Something powerful and timeless.

Q: Do you have any favourite quotes from writers?

A: “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” -Ernest Hemmingway

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give new/aspiring writers?

A: If the fire’s burning, fan it. Do not take that passion and interest for granted: it is a gift. The best way to become a writer is to go down to your office supply store, pick up two nice, large writing pamphlets, steal a pen from a bank, and just write whatever comes to mind. Literally, whatever comes to mind. Don’t think, just write. You are tapping into something which will guide you, which has a direction already. Also: the bigger the writing pad, the more you will write. I like drawing pads personally. So yeah, believe in yourself and write all the things.

Q: Do you have any collections, chapbooks, or other books available for people to purchase?

A: Yep. I’ve got two books of poetry available on Amazon. The first one is Love, Blues, Balance: A Collection of Poetry. The second, more recent one, is New Moon: Transformative Poetry and Quotes for Soul Searchers and Independent Folk. I’ve begun a collection of essays largely inspired by the #metoo movement. My hope is to publish that one independently within the next few months.

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