Michael Gazda published “Tomatoes” in the Roots issue of Epoch Press, which you can buy here.
Why do you write CNF, and do you explore other genres in your work?
Writing Creative Non-Fiction allows me to explore my thoughts and feelings in a way that goes
beyond autobiography or personal history. When I’m writing CNF, I hope to dive into the
subjective emotional states of memory and not just the facts of what happened (although these
must be strictly adhered to as well). If all goes well, I gain insight and perspective, and hopefully
offer this to the reader. I also write fiction in my work, mostly in the form of short stories, but I
do have some longer projects in mind. CNF and fiction have different demands, but I enjoy both.
Did you have a piece already written when you learned about Epoch’s theme, or did you write a
new piece? If so, how did you approach the theme of Roots in the creation of your work?
I had already written the piece I published in Roots before knowing about the theme. It had sat in
my drafts for a year or more untouched. Finding out about the theme did prompt me to dust it off
and get it into finished shape though.
What is the biggest challenge when writing CNF?
The biggest challenge is to always be emotionally honest. This can call for putting myself back
into a state of mind or memory that is not always pleasant. It is simple to write a piece and say
what happened, but it can take a lot of work to really dig into the emotions involved. I’ve found
myself holding memories up to the light and really needing to sift through how they resonate
with me. This is also the pleasure of writing CNF though. I believe readers can tell if you have
dug deep enough and hit the bedrock of a piece. CNF should offer the reader honesty and insight.
That takes work.
What’s your favourite piece of art in your home?
I have a lithograph which I bought in Paris many years ago. It was printed on cheap newsprint
paper in 1918 at the end of the First World War. It announces that the banks will be refunded as
part of post-war reconstruction. It is not valuable monetarily, but it takes me to a very specific,
special moment in my life. It’s a little part of history which also gives me a bit of perspective,
and it has a cool colour palette.