In 2008, Portland author Loretta Stinson was awarded an Oregon Literary Fellowship in fiction. Fellowship judge Dinty Moore wrote, “Loretta Stinson’s short story, “Rolling One-Handed,” opens a window onto the world of lost teenagers, afternoon beer, tattoos, and inevitable trouble. Marvel, the narrator, is charming and wise beyond her years. “North” follows up with the reckless, panhandling Peaches, another lost soul wandering the contemporary wilderness. Stinson documents these “broken people” and gives them voice, and she does it with precision, power, and flawless voice.”
Loretta received her Masters in Publishing from Portland State University in 2007 and her MFA in Creative Writing from PSU in 2009.
This June, Hawthorne Books published Stinson’s first novel, Little Green. A review in Booklist said, “Stinson’s first novel is a brutal but ultimately empowering story about the long road one girl has to travel, literally and figuratively, before she can find out who she is.”
Loretta recently took the time to answer some questions for us about her writing and her path to publication.
Paper Fort: How long did it take you to write Little Green?
Loretta: It took me about ten years start to finish to write it. The book began as a short story I wrote in an Intro to Fiction writing course when I was an undergraduate at Portland State. I had never written fiction before, though I did keep extensive journals from the time I was a young teen. In the class I took the instructor gave a list of objects to use and those objects took me to abuse I’d experienced. As I wrote the story, it lost its power to hurt me.
In sharing the story with my classmates, I realized how violence is often glamorized and unrealistic. It became important to me to write what I knew to be true of what it’s like to live with violence and addiction and the best way for me to tell that story was to write it as fiction.
I first wrote many, many, many bad short stories but received support and encouragement from my professors at PSU.
Paper Fort: How did you find a publisher for Little Green?
Loretta: The summer I graduated with my MS in Publishing I attended the Willamette Writers conference and used what I knew from my courses to approach agents. I hired an agent and eventually–about a year later–my book was sold to Hawthorne Books here in Portland! I worked on revision with the skilled editor Rhonda Hughes to polish the manuscript and make it the best it could be.
PF:Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Loretta: I would tell aspiring writers to make writing their practice–nothing special just a part of daily life. And read the kind of books that you want to write–and practice with short stories before you attempt a novel. That’s about it!