20 Questions with... Zary Fekete
…has worked as a teacher in Hungary, Moldova, Romania, China, and Cambodia.
…lives and works as a writer in Minnesota.
…has been featured in variations publications including Zoetic Press, Bag of Bones Press, and Mangoprism.
…has a debut chapbook of short stories coming this month from Alien Buddha Press.
…enjoys books, podcasts, and long, slow films.
Please introduce yourself. Where are you from? What was your life like growing up?
My name is Zary Fekete. I currently live in Minnesota. When I was young I grew up in Eastern Europe where my parents worked as missionaries. Living overseas as a third culture kid gave me a very enjoyable childhood. Most of my friends were not from the USA. I learned the local language and was comfortable living a bilingual life.
Did you always want to be a writer? If you also work, what do you do / did you do?
I have only quite recently begun to write (in the last 18 months). Writing has become a kind of healing form of therapy for me. I have been working my way out of an alcohol addiction for the last five years, and writing has been immensely helpful to me in this process.
Tell us about your most recently published work in a sentence.
It is a series of short stories, each inspired by some aspect of my addiction recovery.
What are you working on right now?
I am always writing short stories. I usually manage to turn out a few each week of varying lengths. I am currently putting together a large number of these shorts into a book manuscript.
Do you have a writing routine, and if so what is it? I am an early riser, usually up by 4AM.
I either read or write during that time. Often I will get an idea for a short story at various times during the day, and I try to briefly pause whatever I am doing to get down some notes on the idea. I will try to write it immediately if I am able…or I will return to the idea when I have more time and then write.
Where do you write – always in the same space, or different places? Can you write ‘on the move’?
Probably like most writers, I have a favourite chair in the house. Having said that, I can definitely write on the go. There have been times when I have been traveling for my work and I will get an idea in the airport or on the plane…and then I’ll drop whatever else I was just doing and start writing.
What advice do you have for other authors who are starting out? What is the best advice you’ve heard?
Something I still need to challenge myself to do is to write without editing myself on the first pass. I always want to write slowly and correct as I go…but that seems to slow down the creative process. So, when I can, I write out everything in one fast go…and then I go back later to edit.
Do you enjoy doing live readings or are they a necessary evil – or somewhere in between?
I definitely enjoy them😊
Are there recurring themes in your work? Where do you feel these emanate from if so?
Due to my addiction recovery experience there are certainly some pieces I have written which reflect some aspect of recovery or healing. I also am drawn to odd pieces which might properly be considered science fiction or horror.
Should writers have a moral purpose? What is the purpose of a writer in today’s society?
There are so many reasons why someone might decide to write. I think the most important reason to write is if the writing does something good for the writer. It is a fringe benefit if it also pleases other people.
Do you write between genres or not?
I do! I have enjoyed writing pieces which might properly be described as literary fiction. I have also some favourites which fall into the science fiction range…and also a few which are probably rightly called horror. And, probably like most writers, there is some confessional memoir stuff in there, too.
Which living writers do you most admire?
I really like Sarah Manguso. She came out with a novel last year (Very Cold People) and had a memoir come out a few years ago (The Two Kinds of Decay). She writes in a tremendously evocative style. Very carefully composed neat paragraphs. Marvelous!
Which dead writers do you most admire?
I am reading a biography right now on Charles Dickens. He had a tremendous sense of duty when it came to his works. He wrote from 8 or 9 every morning until mid afternoon when he was working on a novel. And he did that without the benefit of being able to type or easily edit the way we can today.
What’s the book you wish you’d written?
I really like The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I read a biography on her two years ago. She put so much of her own experience into that work…and she wrote it while going through many difficult life experiences at the time.
What other external influences do you have: nature/place, music etc?
I love the world in the early early morning. I generally wake up around 4AM and either read or write. The house is so quiet! It is very helpful for creative thoughts.
Do you suffer from ‘writer’s block’ and how do you overcome it if so?
I suppose I do from time to time. I don’t know if I have ever tried to write something if I didn’t already have a fairly firm idea in mind. I have never found much success in simply starting out with a blank page and waiting for something to happen.
What’s been your favourite reaction to your writing?
One of my best friends read one of my pieces recently. She put it down afterward and looked at me for a long moment. Then she said, “That was some story.”
How do your family and friends feel about your writing?
I have been blessed with not only grateful enthusiasm but a lot of encouragement from my family and friends. I think they can tell how much writing does for me therapeutically.
Do you have a favourite bookshop?
This is a great but tricky question. There are many. The one which I will single out is a coffee shop/book store in Budapest, Hungary. It is called Massolit, located in the old Jewish quarter of the city. They have great taste in books and also very delicious coffee.
How do you see the future of writing? Will we become more or less dependent on Amazon?
Honestly I wish I knew more about this future. Amazon has allowed many people to self publish in incredibly ways…but they have an overpowering effect on the publishing world overall and this squelches the chances for small presses. I suppose we’ll all find out soon.