By Cat Donnelly
“I usually write to a word count. When I do feel inspired, it’s a gift.” — Tom Andes
Fiction writer Tom Andes will be featured at the Ozark Poets and Writers Collective meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Nightbird Books on Dickson Street.
Andes graduated from Loyola University, New Orleans, and went on to receive a master of arts and a masters of fine arts from San Francisco State University by 2008.
His fiction is included in the Best American Mystery Stories 2012 list due out in October. “Cannibal Books published a chapbook in 2010, but it’s out of print,” Andes said. “However, if you Google me, you’ll find a handful of poems and stories I’ve published online (as well as a jazz pianist who shares my name).”
Originally from Milton, N.H., Andes grew up taking all writing seriously. He devoured the Hardy Boys series as a kid and eventually graduated up to the Robert B. Parker books, which he read on the school bus as a teenager. He didn’t get serious about his own writing, however, until he went to college. “I wrote a handful of poems I still feel proud of in a creative writing class I took with Ralph Adamo,” Andes said.
Among the writing Andes admires is Roberto Bolano’s fiction, especially his short stories, as well as Graham Foust’s poetry. He thinks Michael Ondaatje’s “Coming Through Slaughter” is “pretty great.”
“I also have so many friends who write — both fiction writers and poets — and I’m always reading their work and learning from them,” Andes said.
Andes claims that most of his writing quirks are pretty mundane, involving “agonizing, pacing and looking at Facebook.” One of his “favorite things to do is to stop writing and make lunch.” Designing an authorly website is among his future projects.
He mostly worked in restaurants in college, and tutored during graduate school. “Since graduate school, I’ve taught community college,” Andes said, “and I’ve kept tutoring to make money on the side.” Andes has written about what it’s like to be an adjunct professor, a somewhat marginalized member of the academic community.
“I have a great life, and I get to spend a lot of time doing what I love,” Andes said. “I’ve also had some amazing students.”
When Andes’ younger brother attended the MFA program in Fine Art at the University of Arkansas, their parents followed him to Northwest Arkansas. Upon finishing graduate school, he needed a break from the Bay Area and decided to follow them and so he wound up living in Fayetteville from 2008 to 2010. Since then, he has passed through our town for different events and visits with family and friends.
Join us at OPWC Tuesday night to catch the fiction of Tom Andes at Nightbird Books on Dickson Street. We also encourage you to bring your own writing to share at open mic. As past feature, Ashley McHugh said, “(OPWC) really encourages a sense of community, even camaraderie, that’s rare to come across; and the atmosphere is always warm and welcoming.”