Submitter Spotlight: Paulette Pierce!

February 17, 2023

Our September Selects winner on the theme of “Anti-Love” was published this week, in opposition to Valentine’s Day—learn more about the piece’s author below, but not before you’ve read their piece, “Behind the Falls” here!

Congratulations on winning in our first September Selects series! Would you say “anti-love” is a theme you explore often in your work?

I would say that. The characters in my work often find themselves in fraught relationships for one reason or another. They tend to confuse other things (manipulation, co-dependency, sex) for love, and fail to notice when they’ve actually brushed up against something genuine that they can trust. They make a lot of a bad decisions.

What does your writing process look like? We’re always interested in the different approaches to drafting and editing.

It tends to start with an image or a feeling, snippets of dialogue or scenery that I don’t have context for yet. I’ll collect those in a notes file until I reach a point where I don’t know the entire shape of the thing but have the distinct sense that it’s finally time to figure it out. That’s when I’ll open a new doc and start a proper draft, incorporating any of the snippets that end up working. On a writing day, I strive for a goal of a thousand words. As far as editing goes, I definitely like to get some distance from the text before diving in again. I think one of the universal challenges of writing is learning to expand your capacity for patience. We’re always fighting for those bits of forward momentum, but any time I’ve started to edit a piece too soon or sent it to people for input too soon, I end up wishing I’d waited a bit longer.

Who are the writers who’ve been on your brain recently?

Joy Williams hasn’t really left my mind since I read The Honored Guest collection a couple years ago, and after reading The Changeling this year, my obsession has only deepened. Her work is lawless and strange in such a unique way. There’s no one quite like her. Richard Mirabella, whose novel I’m very excited to read when it comes out next month. Leigh Bardugo, Madeline ffitch, Julia Fine, Mona Awad, Megan Abbott.

What are you working on now? Any exciting projects you can’t put down?

I’m wrapping up my first edit of a novel I drafted last year. Hoping to keep at it for a while, but I enjoy drafting so much more than editing. Editing a novel is such a nebulous process. With short stories, I can feel myself getting a handle on it with repetition, but novels always feel like strange, mysterious beasts that only let you know them to a certain extent. Despite being the one who created it, you’re still halfway in the dark, and depending on the day, that’s either exhilarating, terrifying or a combination of the two!


At The Masters Review, our mission is to support emerging writers. We only accept submissions from writers who can benefit from a larger platform: typically, writers without published novels or story collections or with low circulation. We publish fiction and nonfiction online year-round and put out an annual anthology of the ten best emerging writers in the country, judged by an expert in the field. We publish craft essays, interviews and book reviews and hold workshops that connect emerging and established writers.

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