Monday, October 27, 2014

Spotlight on Anna Mavromati

Anna Mavromati

Anna Mavromati is already making her mark in Southern California literary circles. Lisa Glatt, author of A Girl Becomes a Comma Like That (Simon & Schuster), calls Mavromati “a uniquely talented writer, a young writer to watch” who writes short stories that are “full of depth and heart and stunning moments of insight.”

Mavromati, as with most writers, makes her living from teaching, in her case English and journalism at Santa Monica College and El Camino College. Her short stories have been published in Day Old Roses Journal, Champagne For Breakfast, Per Contra Journal, Shaking Lit Magazine, RipRap Journal, and elsewhere. Mavromati has also worked and published as a freelance journalist for a number South Bay and Long Beach newspapers. She earned an MFA in fiction writing from California State University, Long Beach, and now lives in Redondo Beach, California.

Sally Shore will feature Mavromati’s work on November 9, at the Federal Bar in North Hollywood, as part of The New Short Fiction Series. For more information on Mavromati’s upcoming Federal Bar program (including ticket prices and directions), visit here.

Anna Mavromati kindly agreed to sit down with La Bloga to discuss writing and literature.

DANIEL OLIVAS: When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?

ANNA MAVROMATI: I started “playing” with writing at an early age. When I was around five or so, I used to write little “books” (in spiral-bound notebooks) where I would come up with stories and illustrate them with stick-figure drawings. I think that was around the time I learned what the word “author” meant, and the idea instantly appealed to me. I liked hearing stories and I wanted to tell them too. At that age I also wanted to be a Disney Princess and Indiana Jones when I grew up, but looking back, being a writer was always an idea I was drawn to. I guess the seed for that was planted pretty early in me

When I hit my pre-teens and I still loved stories and loved reading, then I started thinking more about writing as a potential future career. I started writing for a community college newspaper at age 16, fell into journalism, and in college I finally found my way to fiction writing.

DO: Who are some of your important literary influences?

AM: I feel like that list is constantly growing!

I remember reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in one of my first years of college and really connecting with it. Not only did I absolutely love the novel, but I loved the idea of Mary Shelley as the mastermind behind it—the 19-year-old mistress whose writing was on par with the infamous male authors of her time. As an 18-year-old girl, going through my first string of “serious” boyfriends and trying to figure out what to do with my life, I found Mary Shelley to be such an inspirational figure.

I also grew up in a generation that adored J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, and to this day I largely credit it with continuing my interest in the literary arts growing up. I still look back on that phenomenon with some awe.

In graduate school I was drawn to the works of Sylvia Plath and Adrienne Rich—women who wrote poetry the way I wanted to learn to write my fiction, with this really distinct, honest-sounding voice and style. I love the work of today’s magical realists like Aimee Bender and Karen Russell as well. I love the surrealist, fairytale quality of their work, but also, once again, I love the way they use language to craft these strong personifying voices for their characters. In graduate school I fell in love with a lot of modernists, particularly the work of the “Lost Generation”: Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald were incredible. And of course, Raymond Carver is another big one I got into in college as well.

DO: What do you hope readers get from reading your fiction?

AM: You know, I’m not sure. Not because I don’t feel like I have messages and intentions in my writing, but because I’m pretty open about what readers end up taking away from the story. It could be completely different from whatever I had in mind when I wrote it—and in most cases, that’s a beautiful thing.

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