The Writer’s Center is pleased to announce our Undiscovered Voices Fellowship winner for 2017:

Julia Tagliere

Each year, The Writer’s Center awards a Washington, DC area writer earning less than $25,000 per year with this exclusive fellowship. We believe that writers of all backgrounds and experiences should have an opportunity to devote the time and energy toward their craft. Of the many qualified applicants, this year’s winner was Julia Tagliere, who submitted a short story that wow-ed our judges.

Ms. Tagliere is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in The Writer, The Bookends Review, Potomac Review, and Hay & Forage Grower (yes, that’s a thing), as well as in several anthologies, including Here in the Middle: Stories of Love, Loss, and Connection from the Ones Sandwiched in between; Candlesticks and Daggers—An Anthology of Mixed Genre Mysteries; the juried photography and prose collection Love + Lust; and The Way to My Heart: An Anthology of Food-Related Romance. Her short story, “Te Absolvo,” was named Best Short Story in the 2015 William Faulkner Literary Competition. Julia currently resides in Maryland with her family, where she recently completed her M.A. in Fiction Writing at Johns Hopkins University. To learn more, visit her at justscribbling.com.

Our Development & Community Outreach manager, Bethany Perryman, caught up with Ms. Tagliere.

Read her exclusive interview below:

Bethany: First of all, congratulations on winning our Undiscovered Voices prize for 2017! We are so excited for you to be a part of our prestigious cadre of writers and literature lovers. Your short story was selected by judges as the best of many qualified candidates. How does it feel?

Julia: I’m incredibly honored and excited to see what the year ahead will bring.

BP: You’ve also won other prizes for your short stories. Can you tell us what you think makes a great short story?

JT: As a writer, there’s no way to answer that without sounding like far more of an expert than I consider myself to be at this point in my writing–I mean, if there is a formula, I’d certainly love to learn it. As a reader, however, I find that the stories I most appreciate, first and foremost, move me in a way that lingers long after I’ve finished reading. It could be a really well-developed character, an unexpected twist in the narrative, lush imagery or rich, vivid language; in the best stories, all of those elements are present.

BP: I’m personally curious: What’s your process when you begin a new story? Do they come to you in a flash or inspiration, or…?

JT: Flash implies a much speedier process than what I normally experience. Sometimes the inspiration comes from an image or a feeling, a face I see, maybe something I see on the news. That thing, whatever it is, gets stuck in my mind like a grain of sand in an oyster, and I find myself coming back to it over and over again, worrying at it. It either drives me crazy, or it starts to grow and take shape into what I think might be a workable piece–usually both, if I’m being totally honest.

BP: What are your plans for your next year at The Writer’s Center? Any books or stories in the works?

JT: I have a novel in progress I’ve been twiddling away at for a while now, and I’m planning to use this next year with TWC to finally complete it.

BP: What’s the biggest setback you’ve encountered in your writing career? How do you deal with it?

JT: My biggest setback was probably being rejected repeatedly by a particular M.A. program some years back. It really stung for a while, to keep applying and keep being rejected. But I understand now that I wasn’t prepared at that time–I had a lot of growing I needed to do as a writer to be ready for a program of that nature. I dealt with it by spending the next several years after my third and final rejection doing a lot of reading, independent studying, and connecting with other writers to try to reach a point where I felt comfortable applying again.

BP: What’s your favorite type of writing to do, and why? Tell us a little more about what turns your gears.

JT: I used to think I preferred writing novels, but since I’ve been working more in shorter forms lately (short stories, flash), I must confess, I enjoy the greater frequency of those moments of gratification that come from actually completing a story. Those moments take so long to arrive when writing a novel; it’s easy to become discouraged.

BP: Any last words of advice for students at the Center and other aspiring or emerging authors? What about for writers who are hoping to enter contests and fellowships? What’s your secret, besides great work?!

JT: Writing can be a very lonely business, if you let it be. Step away from your keyboard for a while and engage with other writers. Take classes, attend conferences, engage with folks online via social media, form a writing group of your own, support local writers in their endeavors. Those connections not only can sustain you when you get down in the dumps about a given work-in-progress–and you will–but they can also help you learn about opportunities that will contribute to your growth as a writer. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?