Liquid Ink

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


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How I landed my book deal (in only 15 years)

I’m happy to announce that the pre-launch for my upcoming novel, The Fugue, is underway. You can find pre-order information here at the CCLaP website. I also encourage people to check out what kind words Jason Pettus, CCLaP’s owner, left on the novel’s Goodreads page. “This is the literary novel for those who love literary novels…”

The Fugue started out back in 2000 when I was a student in New York. One night I wrote a vignette titled “Juri’s Window”. Juri was a painter and sculptor living in Amsterdam, perhaps in the mid 90’s, where he collected unemployment benefits and sculpted from trash. The vignette was simple: a description of a window Juri put together out of glass bottles and the remains of a discarded fence. I looked at it as a writing exercise.

But this character pestered me, kept appearing in my work. Soon the name had changed to Yuri, and he had a family, a girlfriend. Later, I moved him from Amsterdam to my hometown of Cicero, and his family gained a complex history of flight and displacement. Eventually he’d been accused of arson and murder. I realized I had a novel.

I messed around with various drafts for years. But in the summer of 2006, at that time working in Bloomington, Indiana, I felt the book, clocking in at about 135,000 words, was finished, and I started trying to sell it, going about it in the traditional way, sending cold queries to strangers.

Mind you, obsessed with The Fugue, I had not published a single piece of short fiction at that point. I don’t know how many rejection letters I collected—for a while I had been assembling them in a scrapbook, but in time I had no place to put them, and far from motivating me, they were just trash mail, most of them the usual form rejections. What kept me writing queries were the nibbles. This Midtown agent asked for the first 50 pages; that Chelsea editor asked for the manuscript. Now another agent wanted the whole thing. After reading, she told me her colleague might be a better fit and forwarded the text along.

The people who read it in whole or part all said about the same thing: “You don’t have a platform, and this book’s too difficult to market.” I took to heart that they didn’t say, “Your writing is shit.” It left me enough to maintain the feeling that I could be a writer. But I hung up The Fugue as a failure and set it under the bed, so to speak.

In the summer of 2007, I started writing Finding the Moon in Sugar, a project that occupied the years leading up to my first child’s birth in 2009. And then I took on smaller writing assignments, including a stint with The Good Men Project.

Part of the reason I self-published Finding the Moon in Sugar was to get my name out there. I wanted to have something gripping but fun to read from during events, and I thought the best way to learn how to market a book—a work of literary fiction, to the point—was to get out there and try to do it.

Last autumn, 2014, I was reading from Finding the Moon at RUI, a reading series here in Chicago. I hoped, at best, to sell a couple of copies, maybe learn about some new writers. At the bar, Sheffield’s, I ended up sitting next to a man, Jason, who had a lot to say about selling books. Turned out he had a publishing house. After my reading—I read the scene when Andy hears opera music for the first time—Jason asked me if I had any short stories. Sure, I said. I have plenty. But when I checked out his website, I figured, what the hell. Maybe I’ll tell him about The Fugue.

This holiday season, the book that started out as a vignette will hit the shelves and e-readers. In anticipation, have a look at the cover. It’s gorgeous:

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White privilege and unintended ironies

This week’s True Community is a response to the culture that makes an article like Tal Fortgang’s possible. If you haven’t heard, a young Princeton student had an article picked up by Time Magazine. In it, he refuses to apologize for his white privilege, stumbling backwards through unintended and deeply unfortunate ironies. They reveal a lot about how elites perceive themselves.

I take a look at this problem from the perspective of a community college teacher who only teaches the underclasses. And I find many similarities between the Princeton kid and the community college kid.

Hope you’ll check it out. And please do share.


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Storytelling is superior to lecturing

My last article points out the obvious: Why Storytelling Has Always Been Better Than Lecturing, Period. It’s a response to another Good Men Project article that argues for parents to use stories to instruct their children.

Hope you check it out and spread the word.


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A father’s nightmare

My daughter, only four years old, busted her head open after falling from some swings. I’m across an ocean, unable to help. So I wrote an article about the feelings and visions, most of them nightmarish.

Hope you’ll check it out. Please share it.

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100 words on love

It’s challenging for  writer to be limited to a certain amount of words, and the fewer I get to work with the more difficult the piece of writing seems to be. However, when the Good Men Project announced a new series of pieces, 100 Words on Love, I somehow felt I should participate.

Here is the result, titled The Final Drop. I hope you check it out.


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To SLS participants

I’ve noticed that the Summer Literary Seminar website has been directing traffic to Liquid Ink recently. That’s really exciting. I’m going to guess that participants are curious about me as a faculty member and what I’ll be contributing to the seminar.

If you’re curious about my writing, let me direct you to the following links:

This is to Finding the Moon in Sugar, the novel I wrote about an American naif who follows an internet bride to Vilnius. One Lithuanian journalist called it “the best guide to Vilnius nightlife” he had ever read.

This is to a republished (and retitled) version of my essay, Baptism Party, originally published in Antique Children, about my experience growing up with an alcoholic father. It describes some of the symptoms of PTSD, from which I suffer. If you don’t know, Lithuania has a serious problem with alcoholism. Quite a few Lithuanians grew up with alcoholic parents.

I also hope you’ll have a look at my essay, Displacing Forces, originally published in Dialogo, and edited by the vastly talented Achy Obejas, about my grandparents’ flight from Lithuania in 1945, and my subsequent return to their homeland. It’s about the tragedy of loss but also a celebration of what it means for a culture and a place to change and survive.

Thanks for all the interest. I’m really excited about the seminar and can’t wait to get to Lithuania. Pasimatysim (see you)!