Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award


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Register for the Northwestern University Writers Conference

Conference registration is now open! The full schedule and bios can be found here. Facebook users can find the Facebook page here. Interested parties can register online and take advantage of early registration rates through July 21. The conference takes place between August 17-19th on Northwestern’s downtown Chicago campus, 339 East Chicago Avenue.

On Saturday, August 19th, I’ll be leading a workshop titled Ear Training for Writers. Here’s the description from the website:

This workshop considers the skill of listening to people speak for the purpose of writing dialogue. Just as observation skills are important to develop for the purpose of description, there are techniques writers can use to hone their dialogue-writing skills. The workshop will work with recordings of conversations and also provoke participants into brief conversations about random topics. Participants will consider how word choices, rhythm, diction and syntax contribute to character.

I’m also available for manuscript consultation. For information about that, please click here.

Of course, the conference features exciting keynote speakers and special performances.

Stuart Dybek is the keynote speaker on Thursday, August 17. His presentation is entitled A Kiss Crosses the City. (Those of us who worship The Coast of Chicago will know what that’s referencing.)

On Friday, August 18, Ines Bellina, Lindsay Hunter, Parneshia Jones, Fawzia Mirza, and Megan Stielstra will give a keynote discussion, Tell it to the Page and Yell it to the Sky: On Writing and Performance.

On Saturday, August 19, the live lit storytelling show You’re Being Ridiculous has put together a fantastic lineup of performers.

Each evening features special events scheduled in connection with the conference that faculty, attendees, as well as the general public may attend.

8/17 – NU Graduate & Faculty Reading @5:30pm

8/18 – TriQuarterly Reading @5:30pm

8/19 – People’s History of Chicago event featuring Kevin Coval and local guests @ 5:30pm

In short, nobody can fuck with this.

800px-University_Hall_Northwestern Photo of University Hall from Wikipedia.


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Expressing gratitude on the first anniversary of my novel’s publication

Today marks one year since the publication of my novel, The Fugue. I have so many reasons to express gratitude. Thank you  to my readers, to the many people who visit Liquid Ink religiously, especially those who share my writing with others. I’m just humbled to think that my writing has reached so many people in such a short time.

I’ve received notes from readers enjoying the book as far away from Chicago as Madagascar, Seychelles, Sydney and various parts of Europe. In November of 2014, before I agreed to terms, I had labeled the book a failure. Set aside, it had been collecting dust since I had finished it in 2006.

The story of how my book got published has been a topic about as interesting as the book itself. After my original publisher went out of business, the book got dumped, only to be picked up in less than 24 Hours by Tortoise Books. In short, it has been a roller coaster.

Prior to it getting published—prior to newspapers like the Chicago Tribune calling it “magisterial” and comparing it to Dostoevsky; prior to Rick Kogan glowing about it on WGN Radio, comparing it to the likes of Stuart Dybek and Nelson Algren; prior to it becoming a finalist for a Book of the Year Award—The Fugue had been rejected for being “too long” and “too focused on a community unknown to most readers.” It had been called inaccessible, convoluted and unreadable. I had been told to think more carefully about what actual American readers wanted to enjoy, and had my attention drawn to books about 5th Avenue shopping culture and immature divorce stories. I was asked to stop fantasizing about becoming one of my favorite writers, authors “no one reads anymore” and to write something snappy and original. People told me no one had any interest in long novels; that year, a pile of 110,000 word debut novels had been released.

Of course, now I stand in bookstores selling my novel, talking to readers, and I see how often books the size of lunchboxes are purchased. Two of the last three times I had a book-selling event, I sold out of the copies I had brought.

The moral of the story for writers, or for anyone pursuing an ambition against odds, is never to give up, no matter how many times you’re rejected, how many times you’re told there’s no interest in you. The most important lesson I learned while getting my MFA was that criticism revealed much more about the critic than the critiqued. That lesson keeps me soldiering on. It’s universally true.

Interested parties should know that I’m almost done with another manuscript. You’ll have something new to read soon, hopefully.

Thank you for accepting, reading, sharing and talking about my work.  You’re all the best.

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A visit to Tribune Tower

So…I got to talk to Rick Kogan on WGN Radio last night. It was an extraordinary experience, and I have more to say about it than I’ll be able to include in a short blog post.

Rick Kogan is a journalist and radio personality with almost six decades of experience covering Chicago. He has spoken to and written books about idols of mine, and when it comes to the subject of Chicago, is clearly among the most knowledgeable people alive. To have sat in a studio chair next to him equals one of the most fucking amazing experiences of my life. To hear him call my book Algren-esque, Dostoevsky-esque and Dybek-esque on the air left a strange, giddy tremble in my hands that has yet to go away.

It was also humbling and head-spinning to find myself in the Tribune Tower. While I had walked past the building countless times, I had never been inside. Yesterday, I rode my bike down Madison from Oak Park, past the former site of Fort Dearborn, over the Chicago River, then I walked up to the tower with a sense of awe and connectedness to the history of my city. So many great people (and, to be fair, some extraordinary and colorful assholes) had walked through those doors and worked in that building.

I’ll say it was equally exhilarating and intimidating to step up to the receptionist and let her know I was scheduled to talk on the radio. I thought only babble or drool might exit my mouth once someone gave me a microphone. But it all worked out. You can listen here, and please do share with the book lovers in your live.

Some photos:

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