Lannie Stabile on Grief, Success, and 'Something Dead in Everything!'
Something Dead in Everything, Lannie Stabile's latest release, showcases her keen eye for imagery. The collection of flash fiction examines grief in all of its manifestations, no matter how uncomfortable, intimate... or weird they may be. Stabile's work is dark, witty, and alluring.
To learn more about the story behind the story, read A Good Book To End The Day’s
interview with the author below.
Please tell us a little about yourself and your journey to becoming a writer.
To paraphrase my very first writer bio, “While some write like a turtleneck sweater, Lannie Stabile writes like a Hawaiian shirt.” I wrote that in 2018, and I really don’t think much has changed, except that I’ve been trying to say “aloha shirt” these days, rather than Hawaiian. Though my writing often tackles topics like sexual assault, domestic violence, and grief, I’ve always had this ability to infuse humor into dark spaces. Some mistake this breeziness and willingness to laugh in the face of agony for irreverence, but it’s really just my way of processing all of *gestures vaguely* this.
I’ve been writing fiction since I was 8 (shout out to my 3rd-grade teacher, Mr. Kach!) and poetry since I was 12 (shout out to my 6th-grade teacher, Ms. Briscoe!). The evolution went as follows: silly -> angsty -> confessional -> “irreverent” -> whatever the hell it is I write now. But I started getting serious in late 2018. I was just getting over this five-year bout of depression and was basically like, “Fuck it. Let’s go!” Delusions of grandeur, I suppose. I started submitting really bad pieces to really good journals. I joined Barren Magazine as a Contributing Editor. I went to my first open mic. I mean, I really jumped in headfirst. I learned a lot that year, and every year since. Somewhere along the way, I started learning and growing, and maturing. Like Shadow, Chance, and Sassy, I’ve had an incredible journey.
What inspired the idea behind Something Dead in Everything?
In short, grief inspired it. My mom was in the ICU for the first two months of 2021. She never left. In that time, I wrote six short stories, even though I wasn’t really a fiction writer at the time. When I looked back at the pieces, I realized the common thread was death. When I looked closer, I noticed it was, more specifically, grief, loss, and a little bit of hope.
How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?
There’s a lot of brokenness in this book: hamsters with postpartum depression, neglected children, survivor’s guilt, and lonely queer ghosts. But I like to think there’s also hope, thick and oozing in each sad story. So, if I had to pick a perfect receptacle for something like that, I’d say Something Dead in Everything’s ideal reader is an individual with a dark past and a light heart.
Your previous published works have been poetry, what made you want to dive into this new genre?
Though this is certainly not the case for every poet, my poetry is mainly autobiographical. At the point when I started earnestly writing fiction again, I had published three poetry books (Little Masticated Darlings, Strange Furniture, and Good Morning to Everyone Except Men Who Name Their Dogs Zeus) and written a few more, and, frankly, I was tired of talking about myself.
What does literary success look like to you?
If you base success on outside factors—awards, dream publications, praise, etc.—you’re going to be chasing that high your entire life. Which is why you have to look inward. And it sounds so cheesy to say that, but it’s true! If you win a frickin’ Pulitzer or you’re the goddamn United States Poet Laureate, but that insatiable void is still running the show, what’s the point? You’ve gotta sit and be still with your accomplishments. At least for a little while. Learn to appreciate where you came from, how far you’ve come, and how far you can go. That’s success.
Do you feel like it has been harder for you to get attention as a young author?
I just turned 35, so thank you for calling me young. In society’s standards, I’ve practically got one foot in the grave.
Truly, I don’t believe youth has much to do with it. It ultimately comes down to money. Most of us writers are passing around the same $20 bill, wanting to support others, hoping others support us. But those lucky people who can afford publicists and agents to do the legwork for them, booking the NPR review and GMA timeslot, paying to display their book front and center at Barnes and Noble, they’re getting the attention. It’s total bull.
That’s not to say I couldn’t possibly be further along than I am if I started earlier in life. Maybe I could. But the real barrier is money. And the majority of us ain’t got any.
Do you have any other projects in the works at this time?
Yes! My horror poetry chapbook, When the Forest Finds You, was just picked up by Variant Lit. That’s due out next year. I also have a poetry microchap, Hi, Lonely. I’m Dad., coming out this year with Kissing Dynamite. Not book-related, my writer friends, Todd Dillard, Madeleine Corley, and Jared Beloff, just started a newsletter called The New Sledder. It’s weird and funny and delicious. You can find details (and sign up!) on Twitter @TheNewSledder. Oh! And I throw random one-woman writing contests on Twitter @NotALitMag.
What book is currently on your nightstand?
There are two wolves inside me. One is Tender Is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica. The other is Delilah Green Doesn't Care by Ashley Herring Blake.
I obviously have an eclectic taste. Queer lit and horror fic on my nightstand. Do you really need to know anything more about me?
How can readers keep in touch with you?
Twitter is best. I can be found @LannieStabile. Orrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…I have a severely outdated website that I’m hoping magically updates itself one day because I have been avoiding that task like the plague. Anyway, that’s LannieStabile.com.