Writers and Storytelling: Melissa Faliveno

Written by Erin Cox

Posted on September 28, 2020

Filed Under: Blog

Melissa Faliveno is a writer, editor, musician, teacher, and Wisconsinite in New York City. Her debut essay collection, TOMBOYLAND, about gender, class, and the American Midwest, is forthcoming from Jill Soloway’s Topple Books on August 4, 2020. Her work has appeared in Poets & Writers, Prairie Schooner, DIAGRAM, Essay Daily, Green Mountains Review, Lumina, and Midwestern Gothic, among others, and received a notable selection in Best American Essays 2016. She has profiled USWNT star Megan Rapinoe and musicians Valerie June and Jason Isbell; and an essay about her life as a former roller derby skater (moniker: Harlot Brontë) was published in the anthology Derby Life. Born and raised in small-town Wisconsin and a first-generation college graduate, Melissa received a BA in English and creative writing from the University of Wisconsin and an MFA in nonfiction writing from Sarah Lawrence College, where she currently teaches in the graduate writing program. She will be joining Lilliam Rivera, Helen Macdonald, and Roger Rosenblatt on October 20 to tell stories tied to the theme “Nerves of Steel.” Register here for the show!

What are you reading right now for solace or escape?

Whew—not enough. I just finished Raven Leilani’s Luster, and while it offered neither solace nor escape, I loved it. I did recently read a Stephen King story from his latest collection; I sometimes turn to him when I need escape (or if I haven’t had a nightmare in a while and want to shake things up).

If you could live inside a fictional world, which one would you choose?

I love horror movies, and while I’d never actually want to live in a horror movie world, I do wonder sometimes how I’d fare against some supernatural force of evil—a monster or an ill-willed ghost or something. I think I might have a fighting chance.

Are there any quotes you use to inspire you now or anytime?

There’s this Rebecca Solnit quote, from A Field Guide to Getting Lost (which is one of my magnetic north books) that guides my own writing: “Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go.”

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