Author Interview: MJ Gardner

MJ GardnerToday’s featured author is MJ Gardner, who wrote the lovely “Leaf”.

Hi MJ! First off, please tell us a bit about yourself. Have any super powers or secret talents?

I read a quote recently that said that art was applying order to chaos. That made me happy, because that is my superpower: organizing. I like doing laundry, because you take a pile of clothes, wash, dry and fold them into neat squares and tuck them away in drawers. Writing is sort of like that. You take a whole bunch of ideas, of impressions, remembered scenes and feelings and smells, quirks of people you know, voices, news—everything you have ever read, witnessed or heard about—and you pick and choose and build a world from it, and people it, and give the people something to do that is worth reading about, and then try to express it all with this imperfect tool called language, and tuck it away in chapters.

That sounds exhausting. Maybe I will just go do the laundry.

Can you tell us a bit about what inspired your story in the anthology?

This story started out in a writing workshop. We were given the subject “childhood”. The backyard in the story was my backyard when I was little, and the big old poplar tree was real, although it never talked to me. The experience of going back as an adult and seeing how small everything looked, and see that the poplar was gone, and the maple my father planted had grown tall, is also real.

What have you been up to lately? Do you have any books out right now? Are you working on anything new?

I self-published my first novel, “Evelyn’s Journal“, in 2014. It’s not my best work—I wrote it almost 20 years ago—but I really wanted to get it out there rather than have it collecting dust. I am currently working on a mystery/thriller/horror novel which I hope to have completed and sent off to an agent by the fall.

I’m always fascinated by where and how people work. What is your writing setup like? Any tools you enjoy using?

I contract as a web developer and work out of my house, so I have a bedroom set up as my office. This is the same place I do my writing. I am a minimalist, in both my careers, and I like to use software that has a clean, uncluttered interface. I was writing in Google Docs, which was great because I could access it on my phone as well if I didn’t feel like hauling out my laptop, or if I was out and about. You really have to have your MSs in Word to submit them, though, and I didn’t like the extra step of converting between GD and Word, so I just write in Word now. I still use GD on my phone to make notes on the fly.

Most writers are lifelong readers and books tend to be important to them. What books or stories have most influenced your life (genre stories or otherwise)?

One of the things that started me writing as a kid was that I loved adventure stories, and they always featured boys. I wanted to write girls into the stories, and not as love interests. So I wrote my own version of Lord of the Flies, and then a version of Lord of the Flies crossed with the Three Musketeers (as horrible as you imagine it). Everything I read got added into the mix. Eventually my own worlds and style emerged out of this mish-mash.

Even now, I don’t read novels while I am deep in novel-writing to avoid being influenced too much. I stick to short stories or nonfiction

Where can we learn more about you and your writing?

You can read more of my short stories on my website and Wattpad.

Thanks MJ! We’ll be sure to keep an eye out for your new book!

If you’re intrigued by the inspiration behind “Leaf”, consider getting yourself a copy of “The Best of Luna Station Quarterly: The First Five Years” and read it for yourself, along with the other forty-nine awesome stories and gorgeous cover art by Julie Dillon.