We recently caught up with Catapult Writing Program alumnus Quentin Greif.
Quentin Greif is a writer and teacher living in Hoboken, NJ. He holds a Masters in English Education from Columbia University and considers central Texas his home.
1. What do you write?
I write mostly fiction centered on queer individuals living in Texas. I occasionally also write personal essays that I post on my blog.
2. What are you reading right now?
I’m reading Emily St. John Mandel’s The Lola Quartet —I think she’s an incredible writer. I discovered her after Station Eleven and have read everything she’s written at this point.
3. What was your favorite book of 2016?
What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell. The middle section of the book is essentially a forty page stream of consciousness narrative about the narrator's past that reminded me so much of Virginia Woolf’s writing—I really enjoyed seeing that in a gay/queer male narrative. Very talented writer.
4. Favorite Thanksgiving food?
5. Can you cook?
Does Blue Apron Count? Then yes, sort of.
6. Do you cook, regardless of your answer to the last question?
I do manage to feed myself and my partner most nights, yes.
7. Why do you write?
It feels like a compulsion honestly. Most of the time I feel like I start to see a big picture in my head and then the pieces are slowly woven together. I’ve had anxiety/OCD a lot of my life and acting through some of those impulses in writing calms me. Also, I like beautiful things.
8. Which fictional character do you wish were real?
I'd really like to party with Theodore Decker in The Goldfinch if I could.
9. Where are you?
My classroom at the high-school where I teach—class hasn’t started yet, many kids are currently sleeping.
10. Where do you write?
In my classroom during breaks. I also live about four blocks from the school so I go home a lot.
11. Do you like Pop Tarts?
Absolutely—I feel like that’s a total child of the 90’s thing.
12. How many unread emails are in your inbox?
13. If you could study writing with any writers past or present, who would they be?
Virginia Woolf and Michael Cunningham.
Reading The Hours and Mrs. Dalloway together was one of the most profound literary experiences of my life. I’d love to be in a room with both of them talking about writing.
15. Do you have any writing rituals?
Not so much rituals, but I make sure I’m in certain states. I’m always sober when I write, it needs to be in the middle of the day (from around 2-6pm), I always sit up while I’m writing, and most of the time I use a legal pad first before moving to a computer.
16. Do you believe in ghosts?
Yes, I saw one once in Virginia Beach. I woke up and a little girl was sitting in the chair next to my bed in the hotel. When I turned on the light she was gone. I believe this really happened.
17. What are your thoughts on alpacas?
Hmmmm I don’t know, I’ve never been near one. I’m really into flamingos and ostriches.
18. How are you?
I’m well for the most part. Being a teacher is funny, the kids are starting to get restless as we get closer to class beginning. I will soon have to teach/entertain them. I feel like I’m on a constant stage at my job.
19. Where can we read some of your writing online?
I have two pieces up at Farmer General, which is an online literary magazine I want more people to check out. I also blog at https://quentingreif.wordpress.com.
20. What are some of your favorite lit mags/websites/publications/etc?
N+1 , The New Yorker , Electric Literature, Dennis Cooper’s Blog (which I’m happy Google gave back—fuck all that); I also listen to a lot of podcasts where I get reading suggestions: Fresh Air, Strangers, Radiolab, The Heart; I also work at an independent bookstore in Hoboken (just across the river!) where we’ve recently held events with Mary Gaitskill and Eowyn Ivey. I hope to keep hosting events like this and would love for people to visit :)