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Sunday, November 23, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 49.0° F  Fog/Mist
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Countdown to Wisconsin Book Festival 2012: An interview with Kathie Giorgio
Kathie Giorgio
Kathie Giorgio

Wisconsin author Kathie Giorgio found success right out of the gates. Her first novel, 2011's The Home For Wayward Clocks, received the Outstanding Achievement recognition from the Wisconsin Library Association Literary Awards Committee and was nominated for the Paterson Fiction Award. Her short-story collection, Enlarged Hearts, followed in April 2012. Learning to Tell (A Life)Time, the sequel to The Home For Wayward Clocks, is due out in 2013.

But that's not all: Her stories have been published in more than 60 literary magazines, and her work is forthcoming in publications such as The Ampersand Review, The Main Street Rag and St. Petersburg Review. She's been nominated twice for the Million Writer Award and twice for the Best of the Net anthology, most recently for her short story, "Lucky." She is the director and founder of AllWriters' Workplace & Workshop and teaches for Writers' Digest.

I spoke with her before her appearance at the Wisconsin Book Festival, where she'll read on Saturday, Nov. 10 at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

The Daily Page: When does the new novel come out?
Giorgio: The publisher hasn't told me yet. I'm hoping in early 2013, to coincide with the anniversary of the clock book's release date, which was February of 2011. But that might be too early. As soon as I know, I'll shout it to the world.

Abuse, survival, and redemption heavily inform your writing. What compels you to expose such difficult concepts and experiences?
My belief is that we need to look at these difficult concepts, understand how the mind works, then move on to fixing the situation. Our country is huge for taking care of symptoms, but not curing the disease. If we look more deeply into the dark topics, such as abuse or rape, we will learn more about the mindset behind them, and hopefully learn to prevent them.

We need to know more than how to comfort and heal the wounded; we have to prevent the wounds from happening in the first place. We can't do that sticking our heads in the sand and pretending these things don't exist.

Has a reader ever told you that your stories changed his or her life in some way?
I've had scads of e-mails from readers, telling me that both of my books reached them in deep ways. From Clocks, the e-mails mostly tell me about how the readers know that if [the protagonist] James could survive, so can they. One therapist posted a review on Amazon, saying that she felt every therapist in the world needs to read Clocks. The other day, at a reading of Enlarged Hearts, a woman came up to me and told me she would never ever look at overweight women the same way, and that she realized she'd been making judgments that never should have been made. It made my day.

You're a celebrity of sorts for founding AllWriters' Workplace and Workshop, where writers of all stripes join together to critique and strengthen one another's work. Members of your reading groups have been known to throw surprise birthday parties. What is it about AllWriters' that makes people feel at home?
Along with providing information and education, AllWriters' provides a sense of community and support. I make sure that the environment is always friendly and safe, whether in the on-site classroom or in the online classroom. There are no cutthroat tactics here. I've been in workshops where the purpose was to tear down and get rid of the weak, to make more room in the publishing world for those writers that remained. That's horrible.

I want to raise writers up, not tear them down. When you come to AllWriters', as a private client or student, you will leave knowing where your writing needs improvement. But you will also know what you do right. And you will know you can do it.

Do you have an estimate of how many of these writers have published their work under your guidance?
I don't have an estimate, but you can see by the bookshelf outside the classroom that every shelf is full to bursting with student publications. AllWriters' students have published books, stories, poems, and memoirs. We're all over the board.

This interview is one in a series of author interviews, book reviews, and other curiosities leading up to the Wisconsin Book Festival, which takes place Nov. 7-11.

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