Juliet Escoria is the author of Black Cloud (2014), a collection of related stories, each of which features a corresponding video and is introduced in the print version of the book by an image of Escoria that represents its themes. Lazy Fascist Press will publish her debut poetry collection, Witch Hunt, in May 2016. Black Cloud was named a best book of the year by The Fader, Salon, and Flavorwire, among others. Escoria’s work has appeared in publications including Electric Literature, Hobart, Vice, The Believer, and Guernica. Escoria holds an MFA in Fiction Writing from Brooklyn College. Born in Australia and raised in Southern California, she now resides in West Virginia. Escoria has been called “a gutter punk Grace Paley” by none other than previous Fiction Points participant Adam Wilson.
Two nuns and a penguin approach you at a bar, and you tell them you’re a writer. When they ask you what you write about, how do you answer?
Last year, I went to AWP [the Association of Writers & Writing Programs’ annual conference] for the first (and so far, only) time. When I was waiting in line to get on the plane, this guy said “How many of you here are going to AWP?” No one responded and I felt sorry for him, so I admitted that I was. For the next ten minutes, I found myself trapped in a conversation about what I wrote about, what I did, etc. He seemed like a very nice man, but when I have those types of conversations, I can feel my soul slowly dying.
I told him I wrote “Thinly veiled autobiography,” which is the line I tell everyone, unless they are friends of my parents, and then I just tell them “short stories” and refuse to go any deeper. So I would probably ignore the fact that they were nuns and penguins and tell them that.