Friday Feature: Interview with Richard Gegick

Each week, the editors of Jenny Magazine sit down with either fellow literary magazine editors or past Jenny contributors for short interviews. This week’s interview is with Richard Gegick, a past contributor of Jenny Magazine.

Describe your first publication. Where was it, when, and what was the piece about? How old were you at the time and how did it feel?

My first publication was a short story titled “Playing Cards.” It placed in Hot Metal Bridge, run by Pitt’s MFA program. That was back in 2011, so I was 27. The piece was about my experiences in Trafford. The protagonist, a child, finds a deck of those playing cards with naked women on them. Pre-internet, something like that was a HUGE deal for a pre-teen/teenage boy. Getting published any time feels like a short-lived validation for all the damn work you put in writing.

What inspired your piece in the Jenny?

“Who’s Gary Cooper?” was inspired by my Grandfather, who passed in the summer of 2013. He had this voice that was his own, and I wanted to find a way to express the way he lived in a real way.

What got you into writing?

When I was 16, I worked in a gas station just outside of my hometown, Trafford. It was an old-school full service station where we pumped the gas for people, and the owner was a mechanic who serviced cars. The one guy, I think his name was Josh, lent me Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut. I’d never read a book other than the required school reading. I fell in love.

What do you like writing the most? Is there a certain style you prefer?

I prefer writing short stories, though last summer I worked two jobs and barely had time to put anything on paper, maybe a line or two, so I started writing some poetry just because it is a shorter form and I could write something small and then come back to it. As far as style goes, I always say I prefer writing with no bullshit.

What are your influences? Who are your favorite writers?

I have many influences. My main influence is Ben Gwin. He is my best friend, and the most amazing writer I know. His work, when I read it, always challenges me. Then there are the rest of Pittsburgh’s writers. Lori Jakiela and Dave Newman. The poet, Peter Oresick, saved my life once though I’m not sure he knows that. T.C. Jones. Scott Silsbe, Jason Baldinger, Bob Pajich, Kris Collins, Sherrie Flick. Discovering, really discovering, Raymond Carver was instrumental. Richard Ford, too. Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy. The list goes on. Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Bruce Springsteen.

What’s your proudest moment as an author?

I don’t really know that I have one. I am proud any time I am published or when I read and somebody expresses how much they enjoyed my piece.

How has your writing developed over time?

The more you read, the more the writing develops. I started out in college wanting to be a satirist like George Saunders and Kurt Vonnegut. I don’t think my writing is anything like that now.

Are you currently working on anything?

I usually have 10 to 15 short stories sitting in my back pocket, waiting to be revised or rewritten. So there’s always something to be working on.

What’s your writing process?

I try to write something every day. Usually, if I’m off in the morning, I wake up, put on a pot of coffee, and go to it. I try to keep expectations minimal in my daily routine. I just want to get something accomplished, then do it again the next day.

What are you currently reading?

I just finished Let Me Be Frank With You, by Richard Ford. Frank Bascombe’s voice has captivated me for years. Right now I am reading a Chekhov translation titled, Chekhov: The Comic Stories.


Are you a past Jenny contributor or an editor at a literary magazine and interested in an interview? Send us an email.

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