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Two graze // issue five writers discuss the "dynamic of the dinner table"

Mariam Gomaa and Laura Moreno. Photograph by Lily Gordon.

Recent Northwestern graduates Mariam Gomaa and Laura Moreno both wrote fiction pieces for issue five of Graze. Intern Lily Gordon asked them a few questions about their writing and their path to the magazine.


LG: How did you find out about Graze?

MG: I first heard about it from a college professor.

LM: I learned about Graze from Mariam. Last fall we were in a course together that required us to submit original work to three or more literary magazines or journals. All of the students individually researched, probed online, and shared their findings with the rest of the class; Graze was one of the magazines Mariam had recommended to us.


LG: Why did you decide to submit a piece to Graze?

LM: When Mariam told the class about Graze, I was intrigued by its concentration on the dynamic of the dinner table. The stories that lead to, follow, or rest between mouthfuls of food can often be alluring and beautiful, intense and disturbing, or mystifying and chilling, and I wanted to contribute, to turn those stories inside-out, and to expose those intimate moments which say much about us and our relationships.


LG: You’re both graduating this year—what’s next?

MG: I'll be attending medical school, and hopefully continue writing. My goal is to finish writing a novel by the time I graduate from medical school. 

LM: I am applying to MFA programs for the fall 2015. I will be staying and working near Northwestern. In the coming year, I intend to be writing fiction regularly as well as writing and playing music with friends.


LG: Where did the inspiration for your pieces come from?

MG: This story [Alma] happened to be a one-line story a colleague offhandedly told me three years ago while we were working on our research project. When she was growing up in Bosnia, her father used to bring her pastries from her favorite bakery for breakfast every morning. One day, as a teenager, she ran away from home, but when she came back, she woke up in the morning to find a pastry waiting for her as if she had never left. I wrote from many perspectives, but the baker's son seemed the most true to me, and especially to my distance from the girl's experience.

LM: The charming, disturbing, and bizarre stories of Flannery O’Connor are always there in the back of my mind, whispering weird thoughts and asking dark questions that often get the cogs running. Maybe appropriately so, I was introduced to her southern-based stories when I moved to Memphis, Tennessee and ever since I first read A Good Man is Hard to Find, O’Connor’s gracefulness and mischievousness have inspired much of my writing. Appalachian Cottontail thrives to capture the painterly beauty of the southern landscape and the subtle off-rhythm of country life.


LG: Favorite food experience you’ve had while living in Chicago?

MG: One of the best food experiences I had was working on my blog Marooned on the Subway (where I interview strangers on the L and blog about it) because I would travel to different neighborhoods in Chicago each week and always end up eating so much! I'm a huge ice cream fanatic, so I've discovered a few great places for it around Chicago. I love Bobtail ice cream, iCream, and Andy's Frozen Custard.