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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Five Questions: From a Farther Room

1. Why do you blog?
About 70% of my blog is photography, my other hobby; it’s a way for me to showcase my interest in old and odd cameras. The pictures are meant to be the ointment to draw flies to my stories, and to the stories and books that I think deserve attention. Since most of my publications to date have been on-line, my blog is a way to steer readers toward other places my work has appeared. I think it’s important for a writer, especially an infrequently-published one, to have an on-line presence, and keeping fresh content available is a way to encourage return visits.

2. Which author and/or book has most influenced you?
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s stories are my gold standard. The descendant of a judge at the Salem witchcraft trials, Hawthorne not only knew his history, he felt it deeply, and his stories – especially The May-Pole of Merry Mount, The Minister’s Black Veil, and Main-street – are a sort of moral history of New England. His stories are rich and dense, and he playfully merges the real and the fantastic. Milan Kundera and Kelly Link are close behind, and are similarly playful and piercing.

3. Which three blogs do you most visit?
The Literary Saloon at: reminds me that there are a lot of books out there that I’ve never heard of, and that it’s worth the effort to seek them out.
Slushpile at: has interesting tid-bits about the literary and publishing world, and fascinating interviews.
Making Happy at: is a photoblog I visit as much for the words as for the pictures.

4. Why do you read fiction?
Fiction seems more “real” than much non-fiction because it dares to let us inside the heads of its characters. Fiction can let us imagine what it’s like to be in another skin, and forces us to identify with people we’d otherwise never meet.

5. What makes you laugh?
I’m a sucker for slapstick and screwball comedy. I love to see social conventions turned on their heads by someone like Groucho Marx in A Day at the Races or Stanley Tucci in The Imposters. It’s best when the “straight man” has no idea he’s the victim of a joke until it’s too late. Playing with the lingo and doublespeak of the corporate world is one of the things that keeps me sane in my day job; I’m glad there’s no way to accidentally smirk in an e-mail while stringing together sentences full of the latest business buzzwords.

Michael Hartford blogs at From a Farther Room, which can be found here:

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