Q&A with author Jen Michalski


  • 41, Author, editor, organizational dynamo  Jen Michalski is a gathering-in kind of person, a let's-talk-about-this-over-good-food-and-drink kind of person, a red-headed, curly-haired dynamo who's done as much as anyone to create Charm City's vibrant literary community.  It's Michalski who in 2004 co-founded jmww, a quarterly online literary journal.  "The name doesn't stand for anything at all," Michalski said, "but we liked to joke that it was an acronym for 'journal managed by wicked women and men sympathetic to our cause.'"  It's Michalski who co-created the 510 Reading Series in January 2008. The series -- so popular it's usually standing-room-only -- takes place once a month at Hampden's Minas Gallery. So far, more than 200 authors have shared their work.  And, it's Michalski who co-hosts "The Lit Show" -- a combination of a late-night talk show, literary reading and variety extravaganza -- twice a year with her friend Betsy Boyd at the Creative Alliance. ("We're like Lucy and Ethel," said Boyd.)  Oh, and Michalski has edited an anthology and previously published a collection of short stories. This year she's publishing a novel, a volume of two novellas and a short story collection.  "I've never met someone with as many connections as Jen," Boyd said. "Those connections create an engine. She's a very generous spirit. She never says anything negative behind another writer's back, and that's unusual."  It was 2006 when Michalski took out a classified ad for a writers' networking event. Fifty people showed up to the first meeting.  "It seemed clear that there was a need there for other writers to come out of their houses and meet," she said. "A lot of other things happened after that, mostly because I wasn't afraid to ask." -- Mary Carole McCauley
41, Author, editor, organizational dynamo Jen Michalski is… (Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore…)
July 22, 2013|By Mary Carole McCauley | The Baltimore Sun

What was the hardest lesson you've learned so far?

"That, as a writer (but more importantly as a person), failure is inevitable. You have to put it all aside and keep working, because you're not writing for anyone's approval or publication or your legacy. You're writing for yourself."

What's a fact about yourself that will surprise people?

"For a so-called 'creative' person, I'm very regimented. I get up the same time, take my dog out for walks at the same time, eat meals at the same time. I only get chocolate snowballs with marshmallow, although every year I tell myself I will try something different."

What do you do to relax?

"Actually, I don't relax much. My father died when he was my age now, 41. I think subconsciously I worry about wasting my time on earth."

Your (other) dream job would be ...

"I would love to have an animal rescue farm."

What's on your playlist?

"Wild Beasts, Grizzly Bear, Field Music, Cymbals Eat Guitars (all indie bands), but also some Sarah Vaughn, Lionel Hampton, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis."

What is your favorite book?

"My favorite children's book is Louise Fitzhugh's 'Harriet the Spy.' As an adult, I was especially moved by John Kennedy Toole's 'A Confederacy of Dunces' and Donna Tartt's 'The Little Friend.'"

What's your favorite vacation destination?

"I really like Newport [Rhode Island], San Francisco and visiting friends who live in coastal South Carolina. Whether I'm at home or on vacation, I always need to be close to water."

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