…with Steven Ostrowski

Ariana:

How did you put together this particular collection of stories? How would you describe the overall theme?

Steven:

I went through a bunch of stories I’d published here and there over the years, and gathered the ones I thought might work as a collection. In this case, in each story, somebody’s carrying a metaphorical cross (Thank you, Ariana, for noticing that).

Ariana:

Tell us a little bit about your cover art.

Steven:

I’m not a real painter, but I enjoy painting. So I decided to try to paint a pile of crosses for the cover. I like the result, more or less. Ariana did a great job of making a three-pile pile of crosses out of one painting.

Ariana:

You’re a musician, an artist, a professor and a writer. How do you feel these roles play off of each other?

Steven:

They all come from the need to make or do things. I am, and have always been, driven to make things. I never could stand just being a spectator, always had to try doing a thing for myself, even if I did it badly. That includes teaching. I never teach anything the same way twice because that would mean I was only going through the motions. The other thing is, I’m always trying to ask unanswerable questions in as many modes as possible.

Ariana:

What’s your favorite movie line? Why?

Steven:

I like every line ever uttered by Harpo Marx in every one of the Marx Brothers movies.

Ariana:

Which was your favorite story to write in A Pile of Crosses? Why?

Steven:

Probably “Walking. Colors.” I liked making up names of colors for crayons. And I like how crayons are kind of responsible for the epiphany at the end.

Ariana:

What emerging author has grasped your interest? Why?

Steven:

I like the work of Leslie McGrath, who is a friend and colleague. I think her range and sensibility are noteworthy.

Ariana:

What can we expect from you in the near future?

Steven:

I’ll be getting another cup of coffee any minute. Besides that, I’m working on a series of linked stories about, among other things: men’s league hockey players and their off-ice tribulations; the attachments and detachments and sometimes reattachments of couples; the impossibility of fully knowing another human being, and even oneself.

The volume is currently called We Are Mysteries.

Ariana:

Finish this sentence: If I wasn’t afraid, I would ….. Why?

Steven:

Quit my job and write full time. I love teaching, I love my students, but I don’t like administrative work, which I have to do a fair bit of, and I especially don’t care for all the pressures put on teachers to assess students in uniform and sometimes soul-deadening ways. My dream is to write in the morning, volunteer in the afternoon, and in the evening either read, play guitar, play hockey or make love—maybe even all of them in the same evening!

Ariana:

If you had to endure a disaster, which would you choose and why?

Steven:

The breakdown of all the technology. I use devices all the time, but if they went away, I’d spend more time on soul, mind, and body work, including writing more poems, stories, and songs. I’d meditate and pray more. Walk longer distances.

Ariana:

What snippet from your collection would intrigue and tantalize us the most?

Steven:

“She looked all right. Her eyes weren’t bloodshot and she didn’t slur her words. Actually, she looked pretty. Her long thick hair was all brushed out neat, not scraggly like she sometimes let it get. Really, she was always pretty. She just didn’t act like she was pretty, at least not in the way the pretty girls in Luke’s school acted, which was like they knew they were. Joni acted like she had no idea what she looked like.” From “A Way to Keep You Here.”

%d bloggers like this: