Journal

THREE QUESTIONS: Katherine Quevedo

I met Katherine years ago when I was a Portland-based writer, and she’s absolutely one of my favorite people. Her stories are imaginative and whimsical and rich with sensory detail and heart. I’m excited to share her work and thoughts with you today! 1) Do you tend to plan your stories before you write them, or do you write and just see what you discover in the process? Neither and both, I’m afraid. I have a horribly inefficient process, jumping back and forth, writing completely out of order, gradually seeing how pieces fit together. I often see a new story like a movie trailer, glimpsing the characters doing or saying things I need to capture on the page. Then I need to find out how they got themselves into those situations. It’s frustrating, because I can’t show works in progress to anyone for feedback until I’ve completed an entire rough draft, or else it won’t make any sense. I’ve dabbled with outlines, usually when the story is about halfway written—in chunks, of course. More often I’ll handwrite a bulleted list of questions I need to answer to move the story forward (such as, how does the narrator feel about a certain other character, and does the setting appear different once that other character leaves the scene?), then I’ll go back and check them off as I address them. That helps me get enough pieces to connect the dots. 2) What’s your favorite idea-generation technique? My favorite is to start with a title that just has to have a story to go with it. I picture it in a table of contents with my name attached to it, and then I feel a sense of responsibility to bring that story into the world. That’s usually not enough by itself, though, so I also keep lists of things like brief synopses, character dynamics, and story structures, and when I hit upon an idea that matches across at least two of these, I feel ready to move forward. “Desert Locks” started as a single question about how people would dispose of their hairs in a world where every single strand is magical. I matched that up with a paragraph about an eyelash, followed by the title and opening lines, and we were off. I’ve also tried making a list of things I have experience with, knowledge of, or an interest in learning more about. I assign them into columns for Activity, Item, Setting, Concept, and Character, the goal being that I can select one random thing from each column and combine them into a story prompt. So far, though, I’ve had more fun adding to the list than actually using it. I do make note of things on the list I end up using in stories or poems. For example, in “Sasha’s Pattern, Sonia’s Edge,” my main characters were originally going to be game theorists, but when I switched them to the haptic technology industry, I made note of that on the virtual reality item on my list. 3) Writing during a pandemic is hard. How are you coping with such strange times? Yes, incredibly hard! For the first few months, all I could write was poetry—a very specific type, namely about video games. It must’ve been something about the combination of nostalgia and escapism I craved during what feels like an alternate timeline. So, I went with it. I’m glad I did, because I found a home for these poems at Sidequest. To ease back into fiction, I’ve prioritized research-heavy stories, since the pandemic has gifted me more reading time. That way, if the writing is hard, I can switch over to reading and convince myself I’m still making progress. Besides research for my current drafts, I’m trying to read more poetry, books on the craft of writing and short story theory, and some anthologies and short story collections from my Mount To-Be-Read so it stops taking over my kitchen island! BONUS QUESTION!: The Short Éditionis a literary project that hopes to bring literature to the masses in a wholly unique way: via fiction vending machines! I just can’t get over what a cool idea this is. What are your thoughts on having one of your stories distributed directly to readers via a vending machine? I think it’s exciting, especially since the stories are free and you can find the Short Story Dispensers in public places. Access to reading material is a beautiful thing. The stories get printed on receipt-like paper, and I imagine they make a great memento, like a special fortune cookie message. Sadly, there isn’t a dispenser in my area, at least not yet. My mom was planning to get a photo of one at an airport this summer and hopefully see if she could print my story from it. That was back before COVID-19 thwarted her trip. Maybe in the next year or two. ***
Photo by Adrianne Mathiowetz Photography
Katherine Quevedo was born and raised just outside of Portland, Oregon, where she lives with her husband and two sons. Her fiction has appeared in GigaNotoSaurus, Short Édition’s Short CircuitApparition Literary Magazine, and elsewhere. She holds an MBA and degrees in English and Economics. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys watching movies, singing, playing old-school video games, belly dancing, and making spreadsheets. Find her at www.katherinequevedo.com.

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