Intermissions Author Q&A: Maggie Nerz Iribarne

Maggie Nerz Iribarne practises writing in a yellow house in Syracuse, New York. Her story ‘Somewhere Else’ won a finalist prize in the 2021 Zizzle Literary Flash Fiction contest. She keeps a portfolio of her published work at

What is your writing process?
My writing process is never-ending! I get an idea, get a sense of the arc and the characters. I write every weekday, 500 rough words by 500 rough words, until the rough draft is out. I usually edit and send things out on the weekends. Once I do the first edits I share with my husband, Jose, and my writing partner, Laura. Then I just keep editing until I can’t look at it anymore. Then I send it out. After every rejection, I edit/revise it again. If it gets rejected a lot with no positive responses at all, I might go back in and try to deepen the character or the tension or something. I am slowly getting better at all of this!

Tell us about your story for the anthology. Where did your idea for ‘Toby’ come from? Were there any challenges writing it?
The idea for ‘Toby’ came from my neighborhood. Ours is a very nice place to live – famous for its community, but every so often we have what’s called here a “zombie house.” This is a house where the owners have just stopped paying the taxes and left it. Recently rumors spread about homeless people living in one of these zombie houses. I have always been aware of the limits to our kind of suburban “nice” and wondered how our community would react to a homeless child living among us. The challenge was just editing and sharpening, as always. I had to remove the use of the word zombie because one journal that liked the story thought it was really about zombies!

There’s both a sense of grief and hope in ‘Toby’ – and there’s also the middle-class/homeless dichotomy – are those contrasts something you play with a lot in your writing?
I love to consider the sinister lurking beneath the facade of suburban comfort. I have several stories set in my neighborhood on this theme!

Tell us about your favourite reads. What do you like about them?
I love any book or story about everyday people and their relationships – the struggles and strain and hope within loss – the challenges of being human. I really loved Anne Patchett’s The Dutchhouse.  I also just read Jean Hanff Koreltiz’s The Plot, and just dug right in! As a writer who ALWAYS borrows from my real life, I found the central question of the novel:  Who owns a story? very compelling. The novel is very fun.

How did you hear about GSP?
I heard about Grattan Street Press on Submittable.

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