VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?
WILKING: My first public reading was at City Lights in San Francisco in 2003. My story, Proper Dress, had been published in Steve Elliott’s first Politically Inspired anthology. I’d flown in from our small town in Massachusetts with my fifteen year old daughter. The bookstore was standing room only. The crowd spilled out onto the sidewalk. The size of the turnout was intimidating. I was seated next to Alicia Erian who had brought her grandmother. The book had just come out and I hadn’t read all of it so I was delighted to hear some of the stories in the authors’ voices. I read, and Alicia read, and some others read. Then came Mistress Morgana, a dominatrix, in full regalia, to read her imagined session notes from encounters with members of the Bush Administration. It was too late to prepare my daughter. I watched Alicia slump in her seat and glance periodically at her shocked grandmother as Morgana read about sexually humiliating the Secretary of Defense with the audience cheering her on. My daughter, on the other hand, small and blonde and so innocent looking, was unfazed.
Joan Wilking’s short fiction has been published in The Atlantic, The Bellevue Literary Review, The Barcelona Review, Other Voices, The Mississippi Review, Ascent, The MacGuffin, Hobart, Clackamas and many other literary journals and anthologies online and in print. Her story, ‘Deer Season’, was a finalist for the 2010 Nelson Algren Short Story Competition of The Chicago Tribune. Her story, ‘Clutter’, published in the Elm Leaves Journal, received a special mention in the 2016 Pushcart Prize XL Anthology. Her novella, Mycology, winner of the 2016 Wild Onion Novella Prize, was published in 2017 by Curbside Splendor. She lives overlooking the Atlantic in Ipswich, MA nine months of the year. The other three she spends in stone cottage tucked away in Ojai.
Come see Joan read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, January 19 at 7:30pm.