Today our Reader Spotlight shines on Jennifer Harvey, who became a Carve fan seemingly overnight, if her numerous, wonderful tweets praising us are any indication. She hails from “across the pond,” having grown up in the UK and now living in the Netherlands. She tell us how she discovered us and three of her favorite stories in Carve.
What would you like to tell us about yourself?
I come from Glasgow but have settled in Amsterdam where I live and work with my partner, our 6-year-old daughter and a senile old dog. I write for pleasure and am currently editing my first novel about a half-Sami girl living in northern Finland who is re-discovering her cultural heritage.
What first attracted you to Carve Magazine?
I actually stumbled upon it quite by accident. I was scrolling through the Duotrope listings and the magazine title popped out at me. Immediately I thought of Raymond Carver and I was delighted to discover that he was indeed the inspiration behind it. To then find that Carve contained some of the best writing available online was like a gift. I have yet to find a story that has left me feeling empty the quality and variety of the writing is impeccable.
I can’t thank you enough for putting this out into the world.
What characteristics do you look for in a good story?
I like to be delighted by language. By this I don’t mean that a story need be quirky or overly smart. Just that the language has something slightly poetic to it. Think of how many stories have been told before. It is only the retelling of them, using exciting language, that helps take them beyond the familiar and into new territory.
Similarly, if a writer can make observations about people, places or things, which are surprising and unique then they will have me hooked.
Dan Powell’s story “Storm In A Teacup” is a lovely example of a writer in control of these minute observations. The way he reveals the inner thoughts of each of the characters is fascinating. The playfulness of the title is also delightful. To take it literally and concoct such a wonderfully observed piece from this wordplay is clever and surprising.
“Stalled Symphony” by Liesl Wilke is a great example of how a writer can transform an otherwise rather banal setting into something extraordinary. I have read this particular story quite a few times and it always amazes me. It’s a good example of what I mean when I say a story should be smart, but not overly so.
Anyone wanting to know what I think makes a good story need only read these two examples to get an idea of what I enjoy.
What Carve story would you recommend to new readers?
It would have to be “One Way to Cook An Eel” by Emily Bromfield. Having loneliness and the need for love as your central themes is far more difficult than readers perhaps realize. It can be very easy to slip into cliché or sentimentality or become maudlin.
The way Emily uses the eel – of all creatures! – is delightful. That mysterious, strange looking creature is as unfathomable as loneliness and love can feel. It’s a beautiful and intriguing use of metaphor. It’s the kind of story I would love to have written myself.
We appreciate Jennifer taking the time to stand in the Reader Spotlight. Follow her on Twitter to stay connected to the Carve community.
Reader Spotlight is a chance for us to turn the spotlight on you. Whether a new fan or a longtime reader, we want to hear from you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured.