Newtown Literary contributor: Nikki Barnhart
Writer Nikki Barnhart’s work was featured in issue #12 of Newtown Literary. We interviewed her about her writing and her answers are below. You can find more of Nikki’s work at the music and culture blog, Alt Citizen. You can also follow her @nbarnhart20 on Twitter.
When you think of Queens, what first comes to mind?
Queens was/is my first home in New York and I think I'll always have a connection to it because of that. There's great food, a lot of green space and parks—and terrible MTA service.
How does Queens influence your writing?
I think it's probably seeped into everything I've written since I've moved here somehow—I think where you live and where you're writing can't help but influence your perspective and your voice, even in the smallest, most subconscious of ways.
As a writer, who or what would you choose as your mascot/avatar?
Joan Didion is my queen. I keep a picture of her on my work desk for inspiration, and to remind me what everything has been for when I'm having a particularly bad day.
What is the last piece of writing you read that made you laugh or cry?
“June” by Alex Dimitrov definitely had me feeling some type of way, and Jen Beagin's beyond excellent debut novel, Pretend I'm Dead made me both laugh and cry and feel a whole bunch of other feelings. Everyone should go out and read both of these works, right now.
What inspires you?
Joan Didion, as mentioned above, and other really great writing and writers. Music, too—especially by great lyricists like Conor Oberst and The National's Matt Berninger. Also, summer—everything about it—the late afternoon light, the smell of the earth after it rains, walking down the street at night in a warm blanket of humidity, the sounds of the birds chirping. (That's another thing I like about Queens—that I can still experience these things and feel like a human, and not confined to a total concrete jungle closed off from the natural world.)
What does your writing process/routine look like?
I feel like I do all of my best writing really late at night. There's something about writing when it feels like the rest of the world is asleep that makes me feel like I can be totally honest and unrestrained. I also feel like it's important to step back from a piece for a while and then look at it later with fresh eyes.
When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?
Think about writing! And read! I work in publishing, so that's pretty much all I do. I also really love music, and art, so I love going to shows and galleries and museums, and I love exploring parks and other cool places.
What writing project(s) are you currently working on?
I have a bunch of pieces floating around. It's tough because I keep thinking of new ideas, but then I get anxious because I haven't totally finished other pieces!