Q&A with Ray Shea

1. If you were reviewing your own work, how would you describe its style or point of view?

I'd describe my prose as realist nonfiction from a very scared and confused person. My poetry is also realist nonfiction from a very scared and confused person, but with line breaks. Occasionally I make people cry, which is about the best any writer can hope for.


2. Who are some of your favorite contemporary authors?

My go-to authors write heartbreaking essays and memoirs that are not just straightforward narratives. Nick Flynn, Antonia Crane, Chloe Caldwell, Kiese Laymon, Maggie Nelson, Hilton Als, and Geoff Dyer are the writers I am most excited about these days.

I like my fiction in shorts, and the best short story writers going are Peter Orner, Scott McClanahan, Junot Diaz, and Jim Shepard.


3. If you were told you couldn't write anymore, what job would you pursue and why?

Ha! Job, he says. If writing was my job I'd be homeless. My day job has been in software engineering for a long time and I'll probably have to keep it for a little while longer, but if I couldn't pursue writing as an outlet I'd probably take guitar lessons or dig my alto sax out of storage.


4. When you think of Austin, what comes to mind?

Three things: breakfast tacos, Liberty Lunch, and traffic. Sadly, one of these no longer exists and another we have too much of, but breakfast tacos are a constant. Breakfast tacos are forever.


5. Answer the question you wish we had asked.

Medium rare, please.


About Ray Shea

Ray Shea’s writing has appeared in The Rumpus, Hobart, Phoebe, Sundog Lit, and elsewhere. He has been a finalist several times, a nominee more than once, but never a winner. A native of Boston and New Orleans, he lives in Austin, where he is at work on a memoir about fatherhood, alcoholism, violence, and memory. He can be found online at rayshea.net.