I’m reblogging my interview with author and essayist Amy Jo Burns in honor of her latest published essay up right now at the Paris Review: https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2019/07/25/the-silhouette-artist/

Amy Jo has said this essay took her 10 years to write, and I think the essay is better for its long gestation. But, wow, this is also a good lesson for us writers to stick with, or return to, those ideas that keep us up at night!

Essays not your thing? Writer, editor, and blogger at daily (w)rite, Damyanti, featured a really interesting guest post by Felix Cheong, a poet living in Singapore. In it, he talks about the process of writing poetry, and he goes back to old drafts a lot–calling himself a scavenger. He says: “Given the right time, they [old, discarded writing material] could be salvaged, given a makeover and presented as shiny and new.”

Here’s to reviving what we thought was lost. Here’s to sticking to a good idea for a good long while. And here’s to new inspiration.

Happy writing and reading, all!


Rust Belt Girl

Bio Pic-1

Amy Jo Burns is the author of Cinderland, and her writing has appeared in Salon, Good Housekeeping, The Rumpus, Electric Literature, Tin House’s Open Bar, Ploughshares Online, and in Roxane Gay’s anthology Not That Bad. Her novel Shiner is forthcoming from Riverhead Books.

Amy Jo was gracious enough to answer a few questions from another Rust Belt girl–me–about her literary memoir, Cinderland, which I discussed in a previous post; about her Rust Belt upbringing; about juggling the responsibilities of writing and motherhood; and about her upcoming novel, Shiner, which I can’t wait to read!

Amy Jo–your memoir, Cinderland, is set in your hometown outside Pittsburgh. How did that particular post-industrial place inform your upbringing? Does your memoir’s title reflect the place in which you were raised, the abuse you suffered as a girl, both?

I chose the title Cinderland because it represents an inner fire that…

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5 thoughts on “My interview with author Amy Jo Burns

    1. I’m excited for her novel. Actually I’m reading a good Appalachian memoir right now–APPALACHIA NORTH–which is a good primer for Amy Jo’s SHINER. I think it’s due out next year. Amy Jo and I have an eerily lot of things in common (not the novel coming out, unfortunately), but we’re both from the Rust Belt, both have a ballet background, both taught aerobics in college… It’s been fun to follow her progress on the page!


  1. Wow! A riveting read. And one that happily took me down a bit of a rabbit hole. Of course I had to find and read her essay “Body on Fire”. It reminded my of a novel I read while in Paris about 6 years ago on ‘les petits rats’ – the ballet students of the Paris Opera. They’re lives definitely were not there own. Now I wish I could remember the title!

    And her biblical quote – so apropos for our time!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I’m so glad you enjoyed Amy Jo’s essay “Body on Fire”–isn’t that just amazing, the lives those poor ballerinas led?! I enjoy telling my boys (who both refuse to share my love of ballet) about my time as a ballet student, how strict our teachers were. Of course nothing like the treatment endured in the 1800s! We got yelled at if we visibly yawned, for instance, but we still loved it–and our teachers, somehow. I’ll have to find that novel title (if there’s a translation–my high school French is very rusty).

    Thank you, as always, for stopping by the blog. I really appreciate your interest!


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