Interview: Matt Bell and the Thrills of Appleseed

by Adam Zemel Matt Bell’s third novel, Appleseed, follows three protagonists in three different time periods: At the end of the eighteenth century, Chapman and his brother travel the Ohio territories, planting apple orchards in the wilderness. At the close of the twenty-first, John seeks to infiltrate a corporation he helped found that has grown far too powerful––or perhaps just powerful enough to save humanity. And one thousand years into the future, C scratches out a meager existence on the icy expanse of glacial North America and dares to believe that he is not the last living organism on the…

Interview: Ajit Dutta and the Art of Urdu Love Poetry

by Sara Grimes Ajit Dutta is a poet and graduate of UC Riverside-Palm Desert’s low-residency MFA program. His book, A Lover’s Sigh, is a translation of Urdu love poetry in a form called the “ghazal,” comprised of five-15 thematically autonomous couplets. It is Dutta’s work of the heart, combining classical and modern influences ranging from Indian and Pakistani songwriters to historical political figures. Dutta’s translation approach included listening to a wide range of singers performing ghazals. He fell in love with the form at sixteen, after purchasing a stack of ghazal poetry at a bookstore before a train ride to…

Interview: Candid Conversation with Author and Actor James Sie

by Becky Lauer Author James Sie’s second novel, All Kinds of Other, tells the story of two teen boys who fall in love in a Los Angeles high school. Sie offers an escape for readers through the perspective of Jack Davies, a trans boy who moves to Los Angeles from Pittsburgh, and Jules Westman, a gay boy who’s lived there his whole life. When he’s not writing, Sie lends his voice to animation and video games, with a long list of acting credits including Curious George, Kung Fu Panda: The Paws, and, most recently, The Simpsons. We met via Zoom,…

Interview: Tom Mavroudis, Author and Horror Writers Association Scholarship Winner

by Lucio Rodriguez I’ve known Tom Mavroudis for nearly a decade, having concurrently attended UC, Riverside— Palm Desert’s low residency MFA program. We’d frequently meet up at the bar between classes at residency to talk books or nonsense over truffle fries and lobster mac. We shared an interest in genre writing, including weird fiction and horror, as well as an interest in giving each other a hard time. Since graduating, Tom has more than a few publications under his belt. He has stories in Terror in 16-Bits, Behold the Undead of Dracula: Lurid Tales of Cinematic Gothic Horrror, Terror at…

Interview: TCR Talks with Veronica G. Henry

By A.E. Santana Veronica G. Henry’s debut novel, Bacchanal, is a fantasy and historical fiction set in the Depression-era South. Centered on Eliza Meeks, a young Black woman with the power to communicate with animals, the novel takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance as Eliza joins a traveling carnival with a sinister secret. Unbeknownst to Eliza, she is being searched for by an evil spirit, Ahiku, whose goal is to destroy Eliza before she can come into her true power. With a cast of diverse characters, Henry frames a moment in American history with varied and…

Interview: Bill Ratner’s Evolution into Poetry

Bill Ratner’s successful career as a voiceover artist—as Flint on the cartoon G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, as characters on Robot Chicken and Family Guy, and as the narrator of countless movie trailers and commercials—coexists with his varied existence as a performer, author, and storyteller. A graduate of the UCRPD MFA program in nonfiction and a published poet, essayist, and fiction writer, Ratner is a nine-time winner of The Moth StorySLAM and has performed for National Public Radio (NPR), Comedy Central Stage, and storytelling festivals around the country. Ratner’s first book of poetry, To Decorate a Casket, is out this May from Finishing Line…

Interview: A Conversation with Viet Thanh Nguyen

By Ioannis Argiris I had the privilege of connecting with Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author Viet Thanh Nguyen to discuss his new literary spy thriller The Committed. In this sequel to The Sympathizer, the unnamed narrator travels to Paris, where he lives with his new handler—his aunt. Once a dedicated communist spy in America, the narrator is introduced to a new world of politicians and the French socialist elite. He integrates into a local mob, selling hashish and getting caught up in the Parisian underbelly’s free market. The narrator continues to struggle with identity as he endures tests from his…

Interview: Jalysa Conway – Rising Star

By Sam Reilly I recently had the opportunity to catch up with a rising star and alumna of the UCR Palm Desert program, Jalysa Conway. While 2020 led to a lot of interesting changes, Jalysa was able to capitalize on her creative momentum. Jalysa has had a busy winter with the season premiere of FOX’s 9-1-1: Lone Star, where she serves as writer and producer. We talked about her career as a captain in the air force and how that has informed her writing during her time on Grey’s Anatomy, as well as the current state of the industry, and…

Interview: A Conversation with the Ladies of the Fright

By Kathryn E. McGee I had the privilege of meeting Lisa Quigley and Mackenzie Kiera while studying with them in the UC Riverside Palm Desert MFA Program about seven years ago. We were beginning our careers by working on horror and dark fiction projects, and I remember how remarkable it felt to suddenly know these amazing women who were trying to do the same thing I was—make sense of the darkness in a way that translated for readers. Since we graduated, Lisa and Mackenzie have gone on to do so much, creating an award-winning horror literature podcast as the “Ladies…

Interview: Melissa Febos talks to The Coachella Review

By Jackie DesForges Somehow my conversation with Melissa Febos has drifted from cuddle parties to crime fiction. Febos is one of my feminist icons, and crime fiction hasn’t had the most progressive track record as far as fiction genres are concerned, so I’m surprised we’ve ended up here—and besides, we are supposed to be talking about Girlhood, her new collection of essays. But when the topic naturally begins to shift, I tell her—nervously—that I’m writing a crime novel. She tells me—excitedly—that crime is one of her favorite genres to read, but there is a caveat: “I need the writing to…