The Vixen Scream now available!

vixen cover final
The Vixen Scream and Other Bible Stories
(Pure Slush Press, 2014)
“Hilarious, irreverent, twisted, bawdy, brilliant – these short shorts by Nancy Stohlman feel like a series of off-kilter encounters with the strangest characters you swear you’ve met before in a previous, more interesting lifetime. With sly humor and daring, Stohlman weaves tiny tales reminiscent of Etgar Keret, but with her own inimitable stamp. The Vixen Scream and other Bible Stories is an amazing collection. Do not deny yourself the pleasure of reading it.” – Kathy Fish, author of ‘Together We Can Bury It’

“The Vixen Scream is a collection of compelling and strikingly original stories – an imagination functioning at full throttle. Nancy Stohlman is a word-alchemist, and here is her book of wonders!” – Robert Scotellaro, author of ‘Measuring the Distance’

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Two Micro Fictions by Nancy Stohlman

indexIndentured

“How much are you getting paid to do this?” he asks.

“Enough to pay off my student loans,” I answer, as he begins to tattoo the Coca-Cola logo across my face.

Published in Blink Ink

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True Tales From Therapy #5

Though there was absolutely no correlation between seeing a new therapist, and that therapist killing himself with a shotgun the following week, Mr. G couldn’t help wonder, for just a fleeting second, if his wife’s claim that everyone was sick of listening to him whine about his problems had some validity.

Published in Right Hand Pointing

Art Installation: Exhibit #2558

by Nancy Stohlman

You Twisted My Spite Into Sculpture—1997
United States

Mixed media: garbage bags, plaster of Paris, broken jewelry, straws, boyfriend

On permanent loan from the artist

Artist Statement: Mask making has always held a special place in my work. I believe there is an inherent fear of asphyxiation present in the creative relationship. This piece began as a mask but I soon realized a simple mask no longer was able to encompass the plight of current society—today’s citizen wants love but feels trapped. My work explores the implications of falsifying our true nature. The piece is really about transforming everyday negativity into art.

The crowd clustered around the sculpture, the crude plaster, the bits of broken jewelry cemented into the patina. The figure stood almost defiantly, two straws poking from the nostrils and the only movement, a sort of desperate darting of the eyeballs.

Originally published as part of the Exquisite Duet series–the first line “You twisted my spite into sculpture” was provided to the authors. Read original here.

sculpture

“I Pawned My Boyfriend for 85$”

pawnFlash fiction by Nancy Stohlman

I’m not saying I’m proud of how it all went down. But maybe if those collection agencies hadn’t been calling me all the time. After avoiding another 800 number last Saturday morning, I looked over at you sleeping, lips pursed, eyelids fluttering, all mussed up like a baby koala, and I thought: there are plenty of people out there who would pay good money for that.

You’re still pissed. I tried to explain that I won’t have the money to get you out until my next paycheck, but the pawnshop owner said that I was just riling up the merchandise and if I wasn’t gonna buy nothing then it was time for me to leave.

When I went in today you’d been moved to the front window display wearing a lovely tiara. I wondered if he would give me a deal on both because I really liked that tiara. You looked away when I walked in but then the owner said to be nice to the customers because Father’s Day is coming up, after all.

Today is actually our anniversary, but you didn’t want to hear it and wouldn’t open the card I brought. Look, you can’t hold onto your resentment forever I said. But you just turned away, tiara sparkling in the mid-afternoon sun.

Originally published in Blue Five Notebook. Read original here.

“The Reluctant Hero”

Flash fiction by Nancy Stohlman

I wanted to just keep walking and pretend I hadn’t seen it. I knew plenty about bags floating in rivers. It wiggled, and I knew I should stop but I kept walking, and I was reminded of my mother sneaking me down to the edge of the river, showing me all the empty bags left in the mud like used condoms – look at those stories, she would say, people just threw them away like trash! They could have lived. And then she would fall to her knees and pray to her god.

So when I saw the woman leaving the edge of the river, I knew what was going on. I avoided eye contact with all the gypsies, beating deflated pillowcases against rocks as I crawled up the muddy banks and caught the tail of the story. I dragged out the waterlogged thing and took it home, where I set its cold, blue body gently on the page and let it live.

Originally published in Flash Frontier. Read original here

Nancy Stohlman on flash novels and The Monster Opera, debuting as an opera Friday

By Alex Brown Wed., Oct. 2 2013 at 9:00 AM
Publishing in The Westword. Read original here.
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From Nancy Stohlman

Nancy Stohlman can do it all. She can create new genres of literature, write operas and teach you how to do both. Someday she hopes to become a pirate, but in the meantime her new flash novel The Monster Opera will be transformed into an opera on Friday, October 4 at the Mercury Cafe. In the novel, a writer travels to Mexico to find inspiration to write — but there are monsters everywhere waiting for her. It turns into a “gothic literary noir, a genre-bending novel-meets-libretto that combines recitative with dialogue, aria with prose, and ultimately asks the question: Who owns a story?,” explains Stohlman. In advance of the opera’s debut, we talked with her about being a revolutionary in her craft, some childhood memories and finding the confidence to produce authentic work.

See also: Kinky Mink Loves the ’80s

Westword: I noticed you say you coined the term “flash novel.” Can you explain what a flash novel entails, and how you came up with it?

Nancy Stohlman: I first coined the term in 2008 for my master’s thesis at Naropa University. At that time I’d already written three traditional novels, but my new work was hijacking me — it was trying to escape the constraints of a traditional novel. None of the terminology, including “novel” or “novella,” really described what I was trying to write: a sparse, lean book that behaves and resonates as if it were much longer with the scope of a novel.

When our art begins to change, our language needs to change, too. So I basically invented the term as a way to give my work permission to misbehave and to give legitimacy to a new type of storytelling.

Are there other flash novelists, or are you the sole front of the movement? Did you feel like a revolutionary when you put the term on the cover of your first book, Searching for Suzi?

I absolutely felt like a revolutionary! I remember the conversation with Searching for Suzi publisher Nate Jordan. I said, “When people start tracing the term, I want them to trace it all the way back to here.” So we put it on the cover. It was awesome.

But in terms of being the sole flash novelist, no. There are many writers whose work has also been pushing these same boundaries; their work is being labeled anything from a novel to a novella to a collection. So many amazing new works defy the old definitions; if the writers are like me, then you finish and you sort of look at it and say, well, great. Where will Barnes and Noble shelve this? Miscellaneous?

But I’m excited that the term “flash novel” is starting to catch on. Writer magazine featured an article about the flash novel, “All Meat and No Fat,” in 2010, and Bartleby Snopes Press, which published The Monster Opera, has even begun a flash novel series.

The Monster Opera took a few years to complete and get staged, and you said you thought it was just “too weird.” How did you finally overcome that barrier and realize its true potential?

In this case, it wasn’t about me overcoming, it was about me waiting. I believe the job of any artist is to point audiences into thickets that may at first seem intimidating. Which means that naturally, at first, there will be resistance. In fact, if there isn’t at least a little resistance, than perhaps there isn’t enough at stake. I like my art raw, vulnerable, 100 percent true to the authenticity of the vision. So rather than try to make my work more widely accessible to speed up the process, I just had to wait.

Funny story: The same morning I got the acceptance from Bartleby Snopes, I was in the process of abandoning The Monster Opera. I had decided that it was too weird for public consumption and I should move on. Within hours of “letting it go,” I opened my e-mail to find an acceptance.

I heard Gertrude Stein was a real inspiration for you. Do you feel that reading her Four Saints in Three Acts gave you permission, or made it easier, to produce The Monster Opera?

If I hadn’t, quite by accident, discovered Gertrude Stein’s libretto on one of my adventures through the Denver library stacks, I probably would never have written this book. It was one of those aha! moments when smoke clears and little birdies start singing: All at once it became possible in my mind for an opera libretto to become a piece of literature. Certainly there have been works of literature that have been turned into opera. But I wanted to go the other way around — I wanted to write a libretto that behaved like literature. I wrote The Monster Opera as a book before any music was put to it.

You’re also involved in hosting many writers workshops; what do you have coming up for those? Does helping others with their writing help your own writing?

Absolutely. Over the summer I taught an intensive workshop for writers to finish their manuscripts and take the next steps launching them into the world. (I’ll probably give that one again in January.) I’m currently working with several private clients and I’ve just started individualized coaching sessions focused on book launching and self-promotion. The best part about working with other writers, especially other talented writers, is you will always be learning from the process; it’s especially wonderful to bear witness to another writer’s breakthrough, then turn back to your own work with your own breakthroughs simmering…

Nick Busheff composed the music for The Monster Opera. You work with him in your metal/ lounge band Kinky Mink. Did it help to use someone whose musical styling’s you were so familiar with? Were you two really on the same page with this project?

Nick Busheff is a brilliant musician and composer, and this production would never have happened without him. And yes, there is absolutely something magical that happens in a collaboration between artists who are really in tune with one another’s vision. I’ve done lots of successful collaborations, but it’s rare to find another artist who can hear the music in your head before you’ve even heard it yourself. I believe this is Nick’s finest work to date.

With this project finished, how close are you now to your dream of becoming a pirate?

I’m always practicing my looting and pillaging skills. I actually just stole your wallet. Why do you still have a Blockbuster card?

You said when you were nine you wrote a screenplay called Superman: The Musical. Any chance of adapting that into a flash piece for the stage? Sounds really fun.

Ha! I think the Lex Luthor/Lois Lane duet will have to be rethought. Gosh, that was really when I became a writer, I think. I remember typing it day after day on my mother’s electric typewriter, loving the sound of the keys hitting and how important I felt sitting there, creating something where there was nothing before. Perhaps it’s time to resurrect the paper mache volcano…

Anything else you would like to add for the readers out there? Promotions/shout- outs?

Definitely shout-outs to my awesome cast: Marta Burton, Erik Wilkins, Jonathan Montgomery, Dee Galloway, Toby Smith, Scott Ryplewski, Mayra Walters, Van Yoho and Kinky Mink drummer Rory Reagan. And a huge thank you to Marilyn Megenity at the Mercury Café for being a rock of support, not only to me but to the artistic community in Denver for so many years.

Stohlman will debutingThe Monster Opera on Friday, October 4 at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street; the show starts at 8 p.m. and Stohlman will have a book-signing after the show. Tickets are available here.

“The Hostess”

Flash fiction by Nancy Stohlman

The hostess decided to throw a small dinner party, just the neighbors and a few friends, just something to lift her spirits. She made pot roasts and French Onion soup from scratch while he retreated to the basement.

There was a few weeks truce, an uneasy truce for the sake of the children, and then another all-night battle followed by a series of murder mystery parties, complete with costumes, wine tastings, realistic weapons rented by the hour, and yucca whipped into small hills as light and fluffy as French pastries.

By the end-of-summer-Hawaiian-luau, the hostess was holding back tears through her fake eyelashes and long, black wig as he moved his things into the spare bedroom: You invited them, you entertain them! he yelled, slamming the door. The guests tried to keep her glass filled with an assortment of specialty rums and freshly crushed papaya mixers.

Soon the invitations started going unanswered; the guests found excuses for not attending the 1950’s sock hop, the M*A*S*H party, the “1001 Arabian Nights” celebration complete with whole roasted goat. Come spring, the 25-foot-tall Maypole looked desolate, pastel ribbons hanging limply like unwashed hair.

But today, the sound of hammers. It would be the greatest party she had ever thrown. Everyone would come. A crew of a dozen was sawing, hammering, painting, and creating a to-scale facsimile of the Titanic. Another crew was bringing in 500-gallon tanks of water that would, at the appropriate moment, be released into the back yard, while the guests, in full pre-World War I formalwear (as specified in their invitation) would get into actual lifeboats and attempt to row themselves to the safety of the house. A caterer was reconstructing an iceberg two stories high, and, at 11:40 pm, the gong she rented would sound, the string orchestra would begin to play, the water would begin to rise and the guests would file into lifeboats, of which there would, of course, be too few.

Originally published by Pure Slush. Read original here.

Nancy StohlmanNancy answers The Hue Questionnaire:

What is your favourite colour? Why?

Red. When I was 10 I was told by the Avon Lady that I was a “winter”

Do you wear this colour? How often and when?

As often as I possibly can. Lipstick. Boots. Red sparkles if I can get away with it.

What does the colour suggest to you?

Wonder Woman at a voodoo German sparkle party.

What does it not suggest to you?

Barfing out the window of a moving RV.

How long has it been your favourite colour?

I’m pretty sure my placenta was red.

When does it work best?

Here’s the thing: Red is both celebrity and paparazzi. When a person walks into a room embodying red, everyone secretly feels better: Red has arrived. It’s kind of like when someone brings the Hot Damn Cinnamon Schnapps to a wedding reception. Maybe you wouldn’t have done it yourself, but you’re glad to know that someone else has, and you might crowd around that person and even take a swig because it will make your story better later.

When does it not work for you?

When I want to disappear. There are plenty of days I just can’t live up to the expectations of red.

How does the colour relate to you, or you relate to it? Are you this colour or is this colour you?

At my best, I am always red.