Welcome To

Buy Now

Meg Tuite

Meg Tuite is the fiction editor of The Santa Fe Literary Review and Connotation Press. Her novel Domestic Apparition (2011) is available through San Francisco Bay Press, and her monthly column “Exquisite Quartet” is up at Used Furniture Review.

Blurbs

"This is an unflinching book that tells of the deadly drama lurking behind the scenes in what appears to be a normal American household. Meg Tuite goes for the brass ring, even if it means falling off the horse and being crushed by the carousel gears. There is great honesty at work here, this is a compelling read.”

– Susan Tepper

“In Domestic Apparition, Meg Tuite’s narrator opens the lid on a shoebox full of anonymous women – and reveals a trainwreck of Americana both familiar and fragmented from the forbidden lesbians and catholic school drama of the late 1960’s, maturing into a haunted and cynical adulthood. Tuite’s narrator is the clever camera eye that sees all, orbiting eclectic brothers, sisters, nuns, college roommates, corporate bosses and suicidal aunts with wonder, empathy and morbid fascination."

– Nancy Stohlman

Reviews

Interviews

Related Posts

Featured Book

Domestic Apparition

An Interview with Meg Tuite

02/25/12

Robert Vaughan: I heard the “Linus & Lucy” instrumental song from Charlie Brown during the holidays. I realized how much I related to Charlie Brown and those characters as a kid. I played piano endlessly like Schroeder. Sucked a finger and carried a dingy yellow blanket everywhere like Linus. Do you have any fictional heroes from childhood? If so, how did they impact you?

Meg Tuite: My mom gave me the book Little Women when I was a kid and said “there’s a Meg in here.” I was mesmerized by Meg March, because she was such a tough ass and said it like it was. She was a writer and extremely flamboyant. I loved her. I read that book over and over. I was blown away when I realized that Louisa May Alcott had brought this fictional character to life. Meg March was alive, for me, and everything I wasn’t. I didn’t want to believe she existed only through the imagination of some woman writer. I was very shy, except at home when I bugged the hell out of my siblings with my endless dialogue to no one. Yes, I was in awe (still am) of the magnanimous Meg of Little Women.

RV: Families, functional or not (and what family is? I want to poke out the eyes of those who say their family was “purrfect!”) seem important to you as a writer. In your remarkable first novel, Domestic Apparition (love that title), the chapters are all little gems, vignettes, each barreling the story forward through complex family incidents. How did you arrive at the main character? This family? What prompted you to tell a story about this particular one?

MT: Oh, Robert, didn’t I tell you? Family Health and Overzealous Mental Balance, Inc. is just now pouring the bronze for the monolithic sculpture of our nuclear nucleus in homage to our raging consummate genetics. (Did that even make sense?)

Domestic Apparition is a novel-in-stories. Most were published individually and then I decided to put a collection together, altering content so it was the same narrator throughout, and the same family. My protagonist, Michelle, was based on many different personages rolled into one. But, most of the chapters / stories are based on a memory, a feeling or a character from my past. I had to put a piece of myself in there to bring this family alive.

My family did go to a Catholic grade school and there’s a hell of a lot of material to work with there. And my siblings are all wonderfully eccentric so I played with some of their idiosyncrasies like the character, Nathan, who had some of the same habits as my older brother, Kevin, when he was a kid. But no matter which chapter / story I wrote, it always ended up fictional, every piece took on a life of its own.

RV: Every piece certainly does have its own breath, and even more so when one collaborates. We have had the great fortune of our paths crossing not only through social networks, but also through the monthly Exquisite Quartet column you write at Used Furniture Review, and your stories appearing on Flash Fiction Friday, which I co-host monthly on WUWM’s Lake Effect. We also had the great fortune of reading our work together, thanks to fellow writer, Susan Tepper, at the KGB Bar in NYC in October, 2011. Then, there are the multiple places our work appears together such as Stripped, A Collection of Anonymous Flash. Can you address collaboration, what you like (or don’t) about it and the impact on your writing?

MT: I am thankful for all of the collaborations with you, Robert! You’re amazing and I love Flash Fiction Friday on WUWM. I was honored that you read one of my stories on air. That was a special occasion. And our reading in NYC was exceptional. I always love reading with other writers and NYC was remarkable because I got to read with some of my favorites. I’ve just worked on two collaborations with photographers and really enjoyed it. Jennifer Tomaloff’s anthology is Bending Light Into Verse. She’s sublime. The other is Lost in Thought Magazine; Kyle Schruder is the editor and the photographer is Valerie Chiang. I was totally inspired when working with someone else’s images. They evoked these whole new worlds for me.

Exquisite Quartet is an extraordinary experience. I collaborate with three other writers on a story each month. I start a narrative and then pass it on. All four of us pull together the strings of a tale and then I do some final editing each month to make sure it works cohesively. It’s exciting to see where each writer will take the story. Some writers really flow with it. The Exquisite Quartet Anthology of 2011 is now available. All thirteen stories were published by the stellar Dave Cotrone, editor at Used Furniture Review. It’s been a surprisingly gratifying year working with all 38 outstanding writers.

RV: I’ve ordered two copies of Exquisite Quartet already -- can’t wait to read it. I’m also collaborating on Jennifer and Kyle’s projects, so I relate to that same sense of awe that comes from combining two artistic mediums: photography and writing. The act of writing can be so insular, and that our paths lead us to so many other talented artists is certainly a highlight. Can you tell me about the ways you like to craft? Music or silence, public or office? What is the ideal set-up for your pen to fly (or is it the keypad?)

MT: I am always curious about the diverse scenarios that are necessary for someone to write. Some writers need a TV on in the background in order to concentrate! Wow! While I was writing during NaNoWriMo last November, I met a group at a coffee shop, but all the conversations drove me crazy. I followed them instead of what I was writing. I’m a writer who needs solitude to really focus, go deeply into the story. I prefer to write with a pen first and then the computer to type, editing as I go.

RV: I’m the same way, pen first, then computer. And I know what you mean about too much noise, it can be so distracting. We both have the luxury of quiet space. I have woods surrounding my house, and I don’t take that for granted. I’m wondering if you have any literary mentors, or writers past or present, who you feel may have shaped your writing?

MT: I can’t say that any of these writers have influenced my writing, but I do return to them again and again for inspiration. I love Flannery O’Connor for her inimitable metaphors and her dark sense of humor. I used to study her collection of stories and actually counted how many metaphors and similes she had used. I was obsessed. Bruno Schulz, a Polish writer, only wrote two small collections before he was killed by the SS during WWII, but those two books hold entire worlds inside them. His work is sublime. Djuna Barnes is one of my favorite writers. Her dialogue is genius. Flann O’Brien, an Irish writer, wrote at least four novels and I go back to those repeatedly. A brilliant writer and so incredibly funny. And I’ve always loved to read and memorize poetry: Dickinson, Rilke, Sexton, Dylan Thomas. I could go on and on with this list of writers I adore. And of course there are many current writers out there that I admire: Lidia Yuknavitch, Kristine Ong-Muslim, Michelle Reale, Mary Stone Dockery, Robert Vaughan, Len Kuntz, Jim Valvis, Howie Good, Sara Lippmann, Susan Tepper, Julie Innis. . . . Like I said, it really is endless! I’ll stop now.

RV: I think it’s healthy to have mentors, or writers you like to read at the very least. We share many similar tastes. I know from our conversations in NYC last October that you expressed a desire to write more poetry. Funny how from there, you leapt right into that NaNoWriMo novel writing month! But looking ahead, what writing turf might lie unexplored? You’ve published Domestic Apparition, your excellent first novel, have a chapbook collection coming, collaborate on the Exquisite Quartet monthly column. You are quite the busy gal! Not to mention being nominated for not one, but FOUR Pushcart Prizes in 2011. So, what is the scariest thought of writing you might take on? Is it a play? Non-fiction or memoir? Everyone seems to be dabbling in that currently.

MT: I’d like to finish that novel I started for NaNo. The first draft is almost complete and then, of course, the deeper work begins after that. I have a collection of short stories that I’ve assembled. I’ve never written a play, but was asked to write a screenplay for someone. I didn’t get very far, but will continue to attempt it. I keep dabbling with the idea of memoir, but it hasn’t taken off like I was hoping. I do always come back to the short story. I love writing them and I have a list of magazines I’d like to get published in. I am writing some book reviews also, so there’s a bit of NF writing, but haven’t written an essay in years. I think the scariest notion for me would be if someone asked me to write a sci-fi story or a western. Ha! So maybe I should just go for it and do it! Face my fears!

RV: Yes, the poet Howard Nemerov, brother of fantastic photographer Diane Nemerov Arbus, once wisely said, “The only way out is the way through.” Sage advice. But before we get all scholarly and shit here, how about some quickfire questions . . . our buddy, Anna March has started up her excellent music column at The Rumpus, so in her honor, what are five of your fave songs from 2011-12?

MT: Oh, this is a great question!! Thanks to Anna March for her amazing columns! I’ve picked five, Robert, but now I can’t stop listening to music. And it was a tough choice!!

Amy Winehouse singing “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.” Kills me every time I hear it. I love her and miss her desperately!!!!

Patti Smith singing “Dancing Barefoot.” One of my all-time favorites.

Radiohead performs “Creep.” I love all their work!

KD Lang performs Neil Young’s song, “Helpless.” I get chills every time I hear it!!

Gillian Welch and David Rawlings perform “Red Clay Halo.” I wanted to be Gillian when I first heard her. They never cease to blow me away!

RV: All excellent choices, complete with video links! How about five “secret” celebrity crushes?

MT: Hehe!! Okay!

Any kind of sex with Denzel Washington!

Oral sex with Oral Roberts!

Make out session with Dame Judy Dench (wait, she was already spoken for, wasn’t she? Damn)!

Heavy petting with Dr. Phil!

Missionary position with any Mother Superior!

RV: Oh what fun this would all be! How about . . . I know you are originally from the Chicago area. So five things you miss about the Midwest, or Chicago in general? (And you can’t say Liz Phair because she’s mine!)

MT: Damn, you get Judy Dench and Liz? Hmmm.

I’d have to say I miss the Cubs games. We’d sit in the bleachers, soak up the sun and drink beer. It was the general meeting place before internet dating sites.

Going downtown with my mom when I was kid to see the tree, shop and have lunch at Marshall Fields.

Summers we’d spend in Michigan swimming and causing trouble wherever we could.

I liked that we could walk to school and to our friends house or take the el to get somewhere in the city. We didn’t rely on cars as I do now living in NM.

I miss the great Blues bars downtown. We heard amazing music. Most of the good bands don’t have NM on their itinerary when touring, but always Chicago.

RV: Ahhh . . . the blues, so we are back to music. Which reminds me, there was a recent trend on Facebook: track down the #1 song of the week that you were born. Mine was “Itsy, Bitsy, Teenie, Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini!!!” How perfect for a writer (those commas!) and a poet to boot! What is yours? And how might it relate to you (or not? You can Google it via Billboard or Wikipedia)?

MT: My song was “The Letter” by the Box Tops. Ha!

I love their outfits!!! I have to say it’s all about the letter from his baby to bring him back home. I had no baby. I’ve been traveling forever but never got a letter to come back home. I think I was writing a letter that I wasn’t coming back home!

RV: “My baby, she wrote me a letter!” How cool! Okay, now I am going to give you a first sentence as a prompt. You can incorporate it, and continue . . . or you can take off wherever it sends you:

"A woman fell in love with a man who had been dead a number of years."
(From “Love” by Lydia Davis.)

MT: A woman fell in love with a man who had been dead a number of years.

He was a disappearing act in the cafe they both went to and out on the streets of the city. Once a lady sat right on top of him, drank her coffee, made phone calls on her cell, read the newspaper and then left, without excusing herself or acknowledging him in any way.

The woman loved him for this. He abided many things. He got to the cafe at 9AM prompt for years and she sat at a table nearby. He drank his coffee with two packets of sugar that he stirred in slow methodical swirls while he stared off into space.

The woman thought of approaching him. He wore impeccable suits and his shoes were always scuffed from the long walks he took and all the people who stepped on them. He never spoke to anyone. Death hovered around him like a vaporous camouflage. It was a hazard. He was pummeled on the streets by crowds that ignored him. He never became annoyed.

The woman loved him so much that she would walk in front of him and part people like the red sea to keep them from damaging him anymore than he already was. After all, he was dead. She would sometimes walk backwards in front of him, stare at him intently, but he didn’t notice. He might have been a philosopher or someone who had suffered much loss.

After years of obsession, watching decay fester his eye sockets further into his skull and his rugged skin turn to gray stone she picked up her coffee and muffin and went to sit next to him at his table. His bones swam inside his suits. She was afraid there would be no trace of him soon. She had rehearsed many things that she might say to the man, but now was at a loss for words.

At some point he looked over at her. He smiled. She didn’t mind that his lips were a memory and his teeth were brown as his beverage.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” he said.

Her heart was entombed in some kind of mausoleum, expanding with each breath she took. She didn’t know that he saw her too.

“We have a lot to catch up on,” he said.

She merely nodded, buoyant with the potency of the moment.

A loud group of boys came up to their table. One sat on top of the man and another sat on top of the woman and the other two boys pulled up chairs. The one lodged in the woman’s lap was quite globular, but the woman didn’t mind.

The man looked over at the woman and smiled. “You see, nothing is ever as uncomfortable as you imagine.”

RV: You are a master crafter, Meg! I say submit it! One more little glimpse of your talent with another way to open up a flash piece? We’ll play word bank! Here are five words and you use any of them in a piece, 50 words or less (thanks, Joseph Quintela, of Short, Fast and Deadly!) And the words are: loose, coarse, unnecessary, chunk, rope (all taken from From the Umberplatzen: A Love Story by Susan Tepper).

MT: She kept falling. The coarse chunk of a rope was too damn loose. Why didn’t they have some manual on how to hang yourself? This was just embarrassing and an unnecessary waste of time.

RV: Those darn loose ropes, I’ve had a few! Haha . . . now some quickies: Do you sleep naked or in pjs? Boxers or briefs?

MT: I love the pjs in winter and ass to the wind in summer. Would definitely go with the boxers!

RV: No pjs here, naked year round. If you had to live one other place than the good ‘ol USA, where would it be?

MT: You’re HOT, RV!!!! I’d choose one of the Greek islands. Paolo and I like to fantasize about what our life would be like there. We’re still waiting for some unknown rich-as-hell relative to drop a load of cash on us and then will be on our way. Any day now, I’m sure.

RV: Lucky you, Miss Mykonos! Hurry up and move, you two, so we can come visit! Now, tomorrow morning, you wake up and discover you have turned into an insect (a la Kafka’s Metamorphosis!) What insect are you and what is your destructible character trait that might be your untimely end?

MT: No question, I’d like to be a preying mantis. And I must be a male, because once the female mates with me she bites off my head.

RV: Yes, those female preying mantises!!! What supreme power they have. Now we are in sixth grade . . . and all the girls are, well, gaga over you-know-who. But you have a secret crush. Mine was Alex: brainiac, so quiet, nerdy. Blushed during lunch when I stared. Yours?

MT: Gene. He’d come over to my house and sit on the steps. My mom asked me what the hell we saw in each other. I blathered on about god knows what and the poor guy just sat there listening. He never said a word and then after about an hour he’d say “alright then, see you later,” and that was our love thing. He ended up becoming a cop in L.A. You think I pushed him into it?

RV: Maybe he was that cop in L.A. who used to come over and . . . oh, never mind! Say you’re a man, maybe even became one through a sex change. And you’re about to meet your first date from an internet site at a local pub. What happens next?

MT: Oh yeah, I saw that porn flick about the cop in LA, hehe!!

Okay, if she giggles or has stuffed animals in her house, I’m out of there so quick! If we get past that and she has no girly bullshit we order beers and since I’ve had a sex change I’m wondering if she notices my last-of–the-mohican chest that I’ve been working to get rid of with hormone injections. We have a few beers, then decide to go to her place. She’s ready for the action, but discovers I’ve got different apparatus. “Oh no, oh dear,” she cries and then realizes she hasn’t had much happening on e-Harmony and says what the hell. We go at it and the rest is either history or historical.

RV: Or both! So, lets wind this puppy down, even though I don’t want it to ever end. Which brings about this: how do you feel about endings? Both in writing, and in life?

MT: It’s always a great time hanging with you, Robert!

I love to write endings in stories. Sometimes they arrive easily. I’ve also sat with a story for months before an ending erupted out of the fog. I find it satisfying when endings show up as a complete surprise to me.

In life, I’ve dealt with a lot of endings. I work in hospice and so I know that with each person I am spending time with, an end is inevitable. Sometimes I have years with them, but usually it’s less than six months. I’ve met the most extraordinary people over the last ten years and what a gift to hang with them during that time of their lives. They are open and introspective and I get to hear their amazing life stories. I love the work and some of the endings are difficult, there’s always mourning that accompanies it, but there’s so much truth that shines through these wise folk before they go.

Thank you so much, Robert, for a sublime interview! Your questions were exceptional and once again, I never knew what was coming next from you! You are the bomb!!!

RV: Right back at you, Meg. This was a blast.

You might also like

  • Buy Now
    The Harrow & the Harvest
    Gillian Welch
  • Buy Now
    Little Miss Sunshine
  • Buy Now
    Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?
    John R. Powers
  • Buy Now
    Ordinary People
  • Buy Now
    Owls Do Cry
    Janet Frame
  • Buy Now
    Girl, Interrupted
  • Buy Now
    Silent all these years
    Tori Amos
  • Buy Now
    Tidal
    Fiona Apple
  • Buy Now
    Voyage in the Dark
    Jean Rhys

Let your voice be heard

Subscribe to Comments RSS

5 Comments

  1. susan tepper said on 02/26/12 at 1:13 am Reply

    This peppery exchange between writers Robert Vaughan & Meg Tuite was exhilirating! Robert asked fun and provocative questions and Meg was quick on the trigger with her responses, this was a gas! Meg’s new book, btw, is quite wonderful.

    Reply

  2. Alex M. Pruteanu said on 02/26/12 at 8:00 am Reply

    Outstanding; I’m not a huge fan of interviews (writers or otherwise), but this was hands down the most vivid and most enjoyable interview I’ve read in many years. You just can’t go wrong with Robert, Meg, music, writing, and sex. Where’s the “Love” button, Molly? We need one of those on the site.

    Reply

  3. Gay Degani said on 02/26/12 at 11:56 am Reply

    Wow, what a terrific read first thing in the morning. Thanks for this, you two. Love bit about humping mother superiors. I laughed out loud and my husband woke up with a “HuuuH?”
    I have this book. I love this book. Oh and my favorite (of course Jo) but my guilty favorite was Amy. It felt to me she got a bad rap.

    Reply

  4. Gay Degani said on 02/26/12 at 11:59 am Reply

    I can see my comment is somewhat incoherent. I’m still laughing. I have Domestic Apparition. I love Domestic Apparition. And the rest of my comment refers to Little Women, a work beloved by most women out there.

    Reply

  5. Robert Vaughan said on 02/26/12 at 1:51 pm Reply

    Gay, you crack me up, too! Hilarious! And thanks, also Susan and Alex. This experiment turned out to be a joy ride in every sense. Molly is the best for taking Meg and I on the ride at The Lit Pub, an outstanding site for writers.

    Reply

Leave a Comment