“I Have Her Memories Now” Author Reflects on Journey to Publication at Howling Bird Press

Photo of “I Have Her Memories Now” book cover, courtesy of Howling Bird Press

Cassandra Hagen, staff writer

“I Have Her Memories Now” is a recently published and best-selling collection of short stories by Carrie Grinstead out of Howling Bird Press, the publishing house of Augsburg’s MFA in Creative Writing. It touches on a variety of topics, from “misguided hope to frustrated desire … [it’s] provocative, thought provoking, and these stories explore our vulnerability and fallibility.” As author Carrie Grinstead states, “It’s about people who don’t get what they want and aren’t ever going to get it, and what decisions they make in the face of their frustrated dreams.” 

Grinstead’s work is rich, immersive and raw as each of her short stories unravels a variety of emotions within the reader. It’s easy to get lost in her divisive and gripping writing due to the tension that’s interlaced into her stories; they’re hard to put down!

The debut author was kind enough to make time for an interview, giving us insight into her experience before and after the publication of “I Have Her Memories Now.” Grinstead shares that she began her writing journey with attempts to write novels by hand in her notebooks since grade school. 

“Sometime in college I started working on short fiction, and about six years ago I decided to try to tug some of those stories together into a collection,” she explains. “At that time, I imagined a set of stories about mortality and about medicine. The book that was ultimately published retained some of that, but, over the course of submitting, revising, and ultimately working with Howling Bird Press on the final manuscript, it changed a lot from what I’d first envisioned.” 

Despite the fact that the author hadn’t experienced an extensive editing process before working with Howling Bird Press, as she had mainly published stories in literary magazines that minimally changed things, Grinstead assures us that she enjoyed the new experience. “I think a lot of small presses are similar and publish books pretty much exactly as submitted. It was really hard, thinking through the editors’ feedback and applying it in ways that still felt true to me. It was like nothing I’d ever been through before, and I really liked the challenge.” 

On top of the success of finally publishing her novel, Grinstead has the achievement of being a best-seller. When asked how that feels, she shares, “Ha, well, it’s nice! Publishing a book is among the first things I can ever remember wanting, and it’s lovely to see a dream come true after decades of trying. At the same time, life goes on. A big dream is not a finish line—fortunately—and there’s always more hope and more heartache, more little pleasures and more nagging fears. Essentially, having a bestselling book is, in a lot of ways, the same as not having one.” 

Her answers give a great deal of insight into her experience of writing and publishing her book, and she stands as a phenomenal writer. As such, “I Have Her Memories Now,” is a definite must read, and if you’d like to view some more of her work, she’s recently published a new contest winning short story through New Millennium Writings called “Ghost Story” that I entirely recommend – it’s engaging and beautifully written. She’s also working on a new novel, “It’s called ‘Man in the Sky,’”  Grinstead reveals. “[It] is about the O.J. Simpson trial, about race and religion and family, and about the blurry borders of guilt. I do hope it’ll see the light of day eventually and that anyone who enjoyed my stories will keep an eye out for it.” 

Seeing such brilliant and detailed writing coming from such a talented author become published Augsburg’s Howling Bird Press is something for students on campus to celebrate and support! As such I fully insist that people look forward to her future works, and read her novel, because as said by Carrie, “I hope my stories will give something back — specifically, a singular and pleasurable experience.” Suffice to say, her stories provide that and so much more. You can pick up a copy of “I Have Her Memories Now” in the Augsburg bookstore or at your local Barnes & Noble!