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Andrew K. Clark Novelist and Poet

A Word about My Writing

My writing draws deeply from the place and experiences of my life in Western North Carolina, where my ancestors settled before the American Revolutionary War. Raised in a fundamentalist Christian household, the eternal battle between good and evil was ever present and this notion of constant spiritual warfare weaves its way through my work. As a kid, I discovered literature through C.S. Lewis and Tolkien, drawn to their fantastical worlds and creatures. I discovered poetry in high school through Langston Hughes and was drawn to his use of vernacular language in his poetry, something I do in my own work and love to read in the work of others, whether the vernacular in question is my own or not. I later discovered the magical realism of writers like Murakami, Marquez, Kafka, and Toni Morrison, and horror writers like Anne Rice and Stephen King. My MFA thesis addressed the use of fantastical elements within a real world setting (magical realism) as a mechanism to address issues of trauma and grief. The gritty realism of writers like Cormac McCarthy, Daniel Woodrell, William Gay, Ron Rash, and others have heavily influenced my work. I see my writing as an amalgamation of all these influences: a deep love for the natural world and its people, with an eye and ear always open to the spark of the supernatural and unexpected. For me, poetry and fiction are kindred spirits, and the devices of each genre find their way into my work in the other. I am in awe of a well-crafted sentence and I am always looking for a way to, as Emily Dickinson put it: Tell all the truth but tell it slant. One of my writing mentors, Robert Olmstead, talks about bending the line – subverting the normal language or sentence structure just a bit, careful not to slow down readability, but to tickle something in the mind of the reader. Especially when they least expect it.

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