Jonathan Crimmins

Jonathan Crimmins is a fiction writer and is working on a PhD in English literature at the University of Washington. His specialties are the 19th-century novel and 20th-century poetry, his dissertation will be about genre and form ("the relationship between generic constraints and the freedom of the individual work"), and he has published short stories and is working on a novel. His sentences are rich and dense. A story I heard him read from last year, recently published in the journal Harpur Palate, begins, wonderfully: "Four days Burtle of Boston is unfound. Four days from when he unbundled to the sun, settled on this curb. Two rolls and dark meat in a pewter pail at his hip." Crimmins also has a story in a forthcoming issue of the Laurel Review and, again, there's this novel he's writing. "Oh, it's just a stupid novel," he says. If you press harder, he describes a novel in three parts, set over three days, with a strictly forward velocity (the reader will have to glean the backstory), told from an omniscient perspective with a nontraditional relationship to the characters, and it involves ghosts—not literal ghosts but the historical, transparent, and intangible things that haunt people. It doesn't sound stupid at all. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE

Teri Hein

Teri Hein's first book, Atomic Farmgirl, is a memoir about growing up downwind from the Hanford nuclear site. (When she was a kid, everyone began getting cancer—at least one person on every farm had it.) Her second book, currently in the hands of prospective agents, is a novel. It's about a kid dealing with the horrors of cancer. "Cancer's my deal," she jokes. The novel draws on Hein's experiences as a teacher for 20 years at the Fred Hutch School. Most of the novel was written before Hein became executive director of 826 Seattle, a drop-in tutoring and writing center for teenagers that opened its doors in Greenwood this week. Hein describes teaching as "the most important work I've done" and cringes when she goes to a party and someone introduces her as a writer. "It's not like there's a shortage of writers in this country. But there is a shortage of good teachers." CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE

Ann Pancake

Ann Pancake lives in Columbia City and is working on a novel about mountaintop removal in southern West Virginia. "I grew up in West Virginia. They're destroying the whole southern part of the state, they're just blowing it up," she says. "It's really apocalyptic." The mountains in southern West Virginia contain coal and the cheapest way to get the coal is to blast off the tops of the mountains and dump the earth, trees, and debris into streams—a practice that's ruined families and communities, buried thousands of miles of streams, and become much easier and cheaper under the Bush administration. "It's sort of a cultural genocide down there," she says. She's spent five years working on the novel and expects to be done in a few months. "The transition from short stories to a novel has been harder than I thought, and also writing a political novel has been harder than I expected." Pancake holds a PhD in literature from UW and is also the author of a prizewinning collection of short stories, Given Ground, distinct for its mesmerizing darkness. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE

Lou Rowan

The sixth issue of Golden Handcuffs Review is due out in December. Lou Rowan started the journal several years ago with his own money (he used to be a businessman) and with the intention to publish American and international experimental fiction, poetry, and essays. "I think that academically acceptable work that is routinely praised in acceptable journals adds nothing to the literary canon," he says. Unlike most local forums for experimental work, Golden Handcuffs Review is handsomely produced; after searching the country for a printer that met his standards, Rowan found one in Illinois (he shares the printer with Dalkey Archive Press). The full-color cover art is political ("essentially the equivalent of an editorial," Rowan says) but the contents run the gamut—in a Stranger article about Golden Handcuffs Review last year, for example, A. J. Glusman noticed tons and tons of (sometimes kinky) sex. Contributors run the gamut too, from the famous (Robert Coover, Rick Moody) to the local (Stacey Levine, John Olson) to the unknown. Before moving to Seattle and starting the journal, Rowan, a fiction writer and essayist, lived in New York. He says, "In New York if you say you're a writer, they'll say, 'How much are you selling and who's your publisher?' In Seattle, if you say you're a writer, they'll say, 'Oh, what do you write about?' And that's very encouraging." CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE