Throughout May and June, we’re highlighting each of the 2014 Oregon Literary Fellowship recipients on our blog. Applications for the 2015 Oregon Literary Fellowships are online now. Applications are due in our office by Friday, June 27, 2014. For more information about how to apply, contact Susan Denning at susan@literary-arts.org.

Stephanie Golisch of Portland is the 2014 Oregon Literary Fellowship recipient in Drama.

Bio: Stephanie Golisch writes screenplays, short stories, travel essays and poetry. She has spied on penguins in New Zealand and Chile, hiked the Yellow Mountain in China, and has been in several traffic jams on the Autobahn. Portland is her home base. She has been published in Bengal Lights, Mission at Tenth, and two PDX Writers anthologies. Read about her adventures on and off the road at www.stephaniegolisch.com and follow her on Twitter: @StephGolisch.

Q&A 

What are your sources of inspiration?

My work history, travels, and Trimet offer me plenty of story fodder. If I can’t think of anything new to write about, I just ride bus 20 or 75 and that does the trick.

How would you describe your creative process?

I walk through life with my eyes, ears, and nose open. Even waiting in line at the grocery store is a gift of time to observe humanity around me. From the snippets of overheard conversations, I write sentences, maybe a couple paragraphs by hand. If these little vignettes won’t let me go, I continue working on them and polish them up into flash pieces. Or, I begin to envision the character, theme, or situation in a new screenplay. As for starting a screenplay, I am stringent and won’t begin until I have characters and the plot, including the three act arc, firmly planned out.

What is most exciting about receiving a fellowship? 

It gave me confidence and strength to keep working at my dream. Standing for recognition at the Oregon Book Awards ceremony was a wonderful experience.

What are you currently working on? 

I have just completed my third full-length screenplay, Love, Money, Happy Hour, and I will soon be pitching it to various producers and agents and entering it in competitions. I have also started work on a book of flash fiction pieces. Additionally, I strive to update my blog at least twice a month.

What advice do you have for future applicants? 

Don’t be afraid of being yourself, even if you believe your writing does not have “commercial potential.” This was especially true for me since I write mostly screenplays, which are inherently commercial. Literary Arts did not care that my screenplay sample had no car chases.

Sample Work

INT. ELLISON HOUSE – BASEMENT APARTMENT – DAY

Brad and Ramona walk through a doorway into a cramped basement apartment. They step over boxes. Brad looks in the hallway closet.

BRAD

Come here.

Ramona wades over to the closet. Brad points to ‘R + B’ that is carved inside the door.

RAMONA

Still there.

Ramona’s mom, LILA ELLISON, late-60s, comes down the stairs.

LILA

You two done unloading?

RAMONA

All done, mom.

BRAD

Thank you for letting us stay here, Lila, but it won’t be for long.

LILA

For the last time, call me ‘mom.’ And don’t be silly. You can stay here as long as you want.

Lila motions for them to look into a nearby chest. They follow her and peer inside at pink and purple knitted baby clothes.

LILA (CONT’D)

I’ve been hard at work.

Lila squeezes both of them hard.

LILA (CONT’D)

Told you, you’ve got to just jump right in. There’s never a perfect time for having children.

BRAD

(smiling sarcastically)

We couldn’t have picked a more completely imperfect time.

LILA

(ignoring Brad)

You two have to work on number two straight away. You’re getting old and only children are unnatural.

RAMONA

You’re getting way ahead of yourself.

LILA

(ignoring Ramona)

I’m so excited. My first grandchild. I thought it would never happen.

Lila begins ascending the stairs.

LILA (CONT’D)

I’m making lasagne for dinner. And a bundt cake.

(she shakes her finger at Ramona)

You need to eat for two now, Miss Boney Butt.

Lila climbs the staircase, humming the melody of a lullaby. As soon as Lila is gone, Brad and Ramona embrace in a hug of desperation.

BRAD

We’ve got to get out of here.

RAMONA

Fast.

BRAD

A friend of a friend put me in touch with a computer repair shop. I’m interviewing next week.

RAMONA

I have an interview for a receptionist gig.

BRAD

Finally got an audience?

RAMONA

Erased the degrees from my resume.

BRAD

Have an alibi?

RAMONA

I’ll think of something.

BRAD

I don’t know about this.

RAMONA

You want to live with my parents forever? Soon I won’t be able to hide my stomach and then no one will hire me.

Brad sinks onto a nearby armchair.

BRAD

You know how people say, ‘Everything happens for a reason.’

RAMONA

Yes.

BRAD

I hate that saying.

Ramona sinks next to him, leans on him. He wraps his arm around her.

Judge’s Comments

By Velina Hasu Houston, drama judge

Ms. Stephanie Golisch’s screenplay explores the lives of two expatriate Americans, Heather and Michael, living in Germany with their respective German spouses. Building a life in a foreign country rife with anti-American sentiments and a dearth of kindness or generosity for foreigners creates challenges that Heather, a twelve-year expatriate, and Michael, a four-year one, grapple with in different ways and with differing degrees of success (and failure).  Michael’s wife Anja loathes confrontation and prioritizes the politics of getting along with her boss and immediate family over Michael’s sense of well-being and cultural dis-ease.  Heather’s spouse Rudiger is too self-involved with his work to realize the speed bumps with which his wife must contend and takes for granted the easy-going relations she has with his family.  One senses that Michael’s trials will trigger a transformation in Heather’s successful life in Germany and that similarly he will learn from her experiences and history as an expatriate.  One in fact senses that their lives are on a greater collision course than that, a collision that may have a significant and critical impact not only on their lives, but also on the lives of all who matter to them.  The story initiates a commentary on global dissonance in the face of the global-village mentality and the human desire to explore new worlds, to build lives in countries not one’s own beyond the comparative simplicity of a summer vacation.  The subject matter and character development hold promise to deliver with richness and care. There is conflict budding, the milieu is fresh and interesting, and the story begins with the promise of ajourney that has somewhere to go.

Oregon Literary Fellowship Spotlight: Stephanie Golisch