Tag Archives: tierney bailey

Interview with Bernard Grant, Author of Fly Back at Me (Sundress 2017)

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Author of two prose chapbooks, Bernard Grant is a doctoral student. In this interview, Bernard talks about the beginnings of Fly Back at Me, good books to read, and his favorite part in the process of writing. You can read Bernard Grant’s e-chapbook, Fly Back at Me, with Sundress here!


Tierney Bailey: The opening words of Fly Back at Me are “A storm is coming.” Bubbling barely under the surface in the collection of stories is a connection between actual, literal storms and the terrible things people perpetually do to hurt each other—beginning with a lie told at a lake and ending with the cycle of sexual abuse in this particular family. Can you tell me just a little bit about how this connection was formed in the process of writing the chapbook?

Bernard Grant: I’d like to, but I can’t. Writing can be such an intuitive process it’s hard to describe how connections are formed. Most I can say is that things happened in revision, after I noticed patterns in earlier drafts, and then followed them.

TB: I know you’ve written about very similar stories to those in Fly Back at Me in your published nonfiction essays, but there’s a certain staccato rhythm in reading the stories of Fly Back at Me and an obvious, deliberate use of wording which would seem to very nearly poetic in nature—what drives you to write these narratives in connected vignettes rather than out-and-out poetry or even a longer, single story?

BG: Thank you for reading my essays. The biggest challenge of writing these stories was the voice. I had never written extensively in a child’s voice, and since all but one of the stories are in first person, I spent a lot of time listening to children speak. I also read some stories from child protagonists, but mostly I read narrative poems while I worked on this manuscript.

I think the short-short form lends itself to poetic language. I’m not a poet, so it never occurred to me to write these as poems. I had intended to write this as a longer story. After about nine pages, the story fell apart. I took a look at my own essays and realized how fragmented they are, how poor my memory is, and realized I couldn’t write a linear story from life. So instead of playing with a different form—like switchback style—I decided to try out flash, and the decision worked in my favor.

TB: Your previous chapbook, Puzzle Pieces, is very similar to Fly Back at Me in that it is composed of stories meant to be sparse of words for the reader to actual consume and strung together to create a whole story. How did the simple act of creating that chapbook influence the writing for Fly Back at Me?

BG: I actually wrote Fly Back at Me before Puzzle Pieces, which was composed of previously published micro essays that I assembled into a manuscript. Fly Back at Me was more difficult as I wasn’t just assembling a manuscript from completed material.

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TB: In “Big,” a moment that filled me with so much dread while I read the chapbook on the train occurs—“[Uncle Walter] pats my butt, squeezes it, keeps his hand there. His callouses are warm and rough.”—but doesn’t come to a “pay off” until the last short story reveals the abuse hiding there in plain sight. Did the chapbook always piece together like this in your head to culminate in the reveal of the abuse or did that happen as you pulled the stories together?

BG: No. Not at all. That came through revision. I see a pattern and I complete it. I think the manuscript was supposed to originally show a year in a child’s life, revolving around the death of his grandmother, his mother’s overprotection, and the anger that fuels his behavior, as seen in the opening story, which is meant to serve as a prelude. A reader commented on the pattern of dangerous men that surround the boy, and it was clear that I needed to follow that. Almost inevitably, I’ll draft a lot of material, and the piece or pieces take their own direction. Revision is my favorite part of the writing process, in part for this reason.

TB: The age old question of process must always come up. Writing every morning, night, or using music or not using music. While writing, what rituals do you perform?

BG: Before I started PhD school, I wrote everyday, usually in the morning, and a little at night if I had the energy. I’m a morning person for the most part. Now I write when I can find the time and energy to do so. A few days a week, I have intense short sessions anywhere from half an hour to an hour. Two hours if I’m lucky.

TB: What was the last really good book you read?

BG: Howard’s End by E.M. Forster.

TB: What would you recommend as a must-read for other writers?

BG: James Baldwin’s Another Country and Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost. Oh, and Notes from No Man’s land by Eula Biss. Also, Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge.

TB: Many writers I know always have a huge list of projects they want to eventually produce. What project are you working on next?

BG: I just finished a manuscript of novel-in-stories. I’m currently working on a semi-autobiographical novel (my dissertation) as well as a collection of essays. Over the summer I started playing around with the idea of ghost stories. So far I’ve only drafted two stories. It’s not going well but it’s fun.



Bernard Grant is a doctoral student at the University of Cincinnati, where he is a Yates Fellow. He has received fellowship and residency support from The Anderson Center, the Jack Straw Cultural Center, Vermont Studio Center, Sundress Academy for the Arts, and Mineral School.He’s the author of two prose chapbooks, Puzzle Pieces (Paper Nautilus Press) and Fly Back at Me (Sundress Publications), and his stories and essays have appeared in or are forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review, New Delta Review, The South Carolina Review, The Chicago Tribune Printers Row, Day One, and many other venues. He received his MFA from Pacific Lutheran University and currently serves as Associate Essays Editor at The Nervous Breakdown.

Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. Amongst her pursuits, Tierney is currently the production editor at Redivider Magazine and a copyeditor at Strange Horizons. As a graduate student at Emerson College, Tierney is studying publishing in the Writing and Publishing program. True to her Midwesterner roots, Tierney still smiles upon the slightest bit of eye contact, makes small talk in lines and elevators, and exclaims “ope!” with barely any provocation at all. If you can’t find her on a train somewhere between Providence and Boston, she can easily be found screaming into the void on Twitter as @ergotierney.

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Project Bookshelf: Tierney Bailey

My bookshelf is small but mighty (and always growing beyond what it should actually be able to handle). Almost every single one of these books have a story attached to them, but let me attempt to distill them to just the essentials.

Tierney Bailey Bookshelf 1The top of my bookshelf is actually vaguely in order, at least (or, really, especially) in comparison to the rest of the shelf. The upper most shelf begins on the left with school books and my reference books—a girl should never go anywhere with an AP Style Guide, The Copy-editor’s Handbook, or The Chicago Manual of Style—but moves quickly on to books from different franchises I enjoy, including Supernatural, Welcome to Night Vale, Alien, Dragon Heart, Being Human (UK, definitively not the US version), Red Dwarf, and, of course, Star Wars.

The second shelf is also mostly organized. A few newer books lay in spill over territory, but for the most part the shelf is reserved for science fiction and poetry (plus literary magazines—mostly those I’ve been on staff with). Favorites of mine on this shelf are: my father’s copy of Foundation by Isaac Asimov, Octavia’s Brood on social justice-related science fiction from Bitch Media, Shrill by Lindy West, and all the poetry books I’ve ever truly loved. The journals that I worked with on this shelf include Etchings from my undergraduate institution, Ploughshares, and now Redivider, who I recently joined as production editor.

Tierney Bailey Bookshelf 2The third and fourth shelf are much more haphazard; books are placed more or less in an order, though not necessarily discernable. Authors and series are placed together while genres are generally together but much less obviously. Many of these books are very important to me or are not yet read but deemed probably going to be enjoyed immensely. The standout of these shelves are my childhood copy of Treasure Island, the first book I remember reading on my own and another book snared from my father’s collection. Also worth pointing out on this shelf is a Korean philosophy (maybe, I’ve yet to actually try to translate any of it) book I bought to start helping me really learn the language as well as a gift novel from a book-swap party between myself and other graduate students from the publishing department in December. The book looks great, but it remains unread as of right now. (It will be read soon, Tanya, I promise.)

Tierney Bailey Bookshelf 3The bottom shelves are all too-big books or books that aren’t referenced as often or books waiting to be read. Books that are important to me on this shelf include the hard-to-see bind up of the His Dark Materials series by Pullman. Also important are the much more obvious Pit Dragon Chronicles by Jane Yolen and the Feed series by Mira Grant. These shelves also contain my small but deeply loved collection of romance novels (mostly paranormal because, well, I love werewolves, okay).

Tierney Bailey Bookshelf 4The last shelf I have at the moment is at my bedside. These three small shelves include the newest acquisitions, books I’ve recently taken off the big bookshelf for one reason or another, and books I’m actually currently reading. The second shelf does not include any actual reading material, but houses most of my Korean pop albums (mostly from GOT7 because I adore them). The bottom shelf has a large pile of journals ready to be used, a couple of spill over Kpop albums, and my Korean language learning books.


Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. Amongst her pursuits, Tierney is currently the production editor at Redivider Magazine and a copyeditor at Strange Horizons. As a graduate student at Emerson College, Tierney is studying publishing in the Writing and Publishing program. True to her Midwesterner roots, Tierney still smiles upon the slightest bit of eye contact, makes small talk in lines and elevators, and exclaims “ope!” with barely any provocation at all. If you can’t find her on a train somewhere between Providence and Boston, she can easily be found screaming into the void on Twitter as @ergotierney.

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Project Bookshelf: Tierney Bailey

Tierney Bailey bookshelf

Before I moved away from home, I had five bookcases all along my bedroom walls filled with books and knick-knacks. Any little bit of spare money went to books. A move across the country, from the Midwest to the East Coast, meant that I could only take some books—mostly things I wanted to immediately read next or couldn’t imagine being parted with. (The books I left at home are now in my childhood closet, but some of those will slowly follow me to my new home.)

The first novel I read on my own was Treasure Island. I own a couple of editions, though the most important one is the one I brought with me to the East Coast. It’s really my dad’s but it’s been on my bookshelf for as long as I can remember. I would have never left home without it.

Science fiction anthologies and poetry also stand on my bookshelf, managing to be the majority at the moment. Some are guilty pleasures—looking at you, Harry Harrison—while others are based on social commentary and revolutions, like all of the best science fiction is at heart. Joanna Russ, Octavia Butler, and Octavia’s Brood (not pictured on my bookshelf because it’s actually on my bedside table at the moment, waiting to be finished) are leaning together with Nnedi Okorafor and Mary Shelley. Folktales, young adult, romance and non-fiction all mingling in semi-order because I haven’t organized the shelf again since I moved in last year. Notebooks, loose paper with useful information, a magazine I designed entirely on my own, and books turned every which way to make as much room as I can for more books take up at least a quarter of the room on the shelf. My bookshelves are messy despite a constant effort to keep the disorder in check, but the continuing input of new books makes it almost impossible to keep tidy.

Eventually the books will spread once more from the bookshelf and my bedside table and into piles on the floor (or, preferably, another bookshelf), but, until then, they will make do with the space I have.


Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. She currently copyedits for Strange Horizons. Tierney is also a Writing, Literature, and Publishing graduate student at Emerson College. As an East Coast transplant from Indianapolis, Tierney still smiles upon the slightest bit of eye contact. If you can’t find her on a train between Providence and Boston, she can easily be found on Twitter as @ergotierney.

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Meet Our New Social Media Intern, Tierney Bailey

The Myers-Briggs test tells me I am an ENFJ, like Abraham Lincoln (mostly interesting because I am distantly related to Mary Todd Lincoln) and Peyton Manning (mostly interesting because I was born and raised in Indianapolis—though I only have any fealty to the Pacers because I loved Reggie Miller’s big ears a kid). ENFJs like to put things into external contexts, according to all the profiles I’ve ever read. That might be true, since I was born October 2, 1993, but I like to contextualize it with “I share a birthday with King Richard III, Sting, and Ghandi.” I, however, am mostly convinced that this is just because I wholly embody the phrase my mother uses most often about me: “They can hear you a county over, Tierney.” As a toddler, I constantly received invitations to birthday parties for little, old ladies I had conversations with inside grocery stores and book stores. I remain unconvinced about by the NFJ bits, but “extravert” fits.

Sundress is not my first dealing in publishing. (Here’s to hoping it won’t be my last!) When I first entered college, I enrolled as an English/education major. Luckily, while I loved my students, I found my way into the publishing program early on. I spent my remaining three years as a professional writing major with terrific professors at the University of Indianapolis honing my skills to various degrees—writing, editing, designing, Tweeting, any gerund I could possibly fit into my schedule would eventually be done. Now, I am enrolled at Emerson College as a Writing, Literature, and Publishing graduate student with more amazing people. Most of the time, I use communication to put my world in order because I see interaction as a piece of the greater conversation.

Maybe this is why I’ve ended up as Sundress’s new intern for social media.

I guess the basic profile of myself is this: my name is Tierney Bailey. I like to talk and listen and learn. I mostly just try my best.

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Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. She currently copyedits for Strange Horizons. Tierney is also a Writing, Literature, and Publishing graduate student at Emerson College. As an East Coast transplant from Indianapolis, Tierney still smiles upon the slightest bit of eye contact. If you can’t find her on a train between Providence and Boston, she can easily be found on Twitter as @ergotierney.

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