Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future.
Name: Stephanie Anderson
Title of Piece published in Sweet: Flight Animals
Stephanie teaches creative and expository writing and literature interpretation at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida.
“I have the privilege of working with one of the most diverse student bodies in the country and serving alongside many excellent writers and scholars. Teaching is incredibly rewarding not only because of these students and colleagues, but also because the job allows me to help young people recognize and harness the power of writing – an act that empowers them in creative, social, emotional, and political terms.”
You can find out more about Stephanie and learn of upcoming events and appearances on her website.
What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication?
I am thrilled to share that my debut nonfiction book, One Size Fits None: A Farm Girl’s Search for the Promise of Regenerative Agriculture, will appear in January 2019 with University of Nebraska Press. Sweet readers might know from my essay “Flight Animals” that I grew up on a cattle ranch in South Dakota. After college, I worked as a farm journalist, and this book arose from my dismay over the disastrous effects of industrial agriculture. In One Size Fits None, I tell the stories of exceptional farmers from four states who practice various forms of regenerative agriculture, which means agriculture tailored to local environments that renews, rather than depletes or simply sustains, our nation’s degraded land. Regenerative agriculture also fights climate change and results in nutritious, ethically produced food for consumers. The book also traces a bit of my family’s history. You can read a synopsis and, if you feel so moved, order a copy here.
Since publishing in Sweet in 2016, I contributed to the essay collection Permanent Vacation: Eighteen Writers on Work and Life in Our National Parks, Vol. 2 from Bona Fide Books and placed work in Kudzu House Quarterly, Midwestern Gothic, saltfront, and Foliate Oak. I also have pieces forthcoming this fall with Hotel Amerika and The Pinch, so stay tuned for new work!
Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about?
I am working on a collection of essays that explores rural life, the prairie, farm families (including mine), the Midwest generally, and other related themes. I am excited about this project because the essays vary in form and voice to include traditional narrative pieces, lyric and braided essays, and research-driven work. I hope to build a collection that stretches my creative limits and keeps the reader engaged through diversity and experimentation.
Who is your favorite author?
I’m not sure I can narrow it down to one, since “favorite” is highly dependent on my mood, what I’m currently working on, and the evolution of my understanding and taste. Since I often engage with the environment in my work, I’m going to name just a handful of the many talented people whose nature-driven nonfiction has influenced me: John McPhee, Annie Dillard, Michael Pollan, Aldo Leopold, Wendell Berry, and Terry Tempest Williams.
What is your favorite poem/essay/book?
Another tough question! Annie Dillard’s essay “Living Like Weasels,” Anthony Doerr’s short story “The Shell Collector,” and John McPhee’s essay “Travels in Georgia” are go-to works when I need a quick boost, no matter what I’m working on.
What inspires you to write?
Often the need to understand or examine a thing, such as a life event or an emotion, inspires me to write. Sometimes writing arises from indignation over injustice, as with my book and several of my essays. Lately climate change, intolerance, and bigotry demand that I write. All writing, even the most personal memoir, is a reflection of the world, and now more than ever writers are obligated to respond to, critique, and make sense of that world.
What is your favorite sweet?
My mom’s Christmas sugar cookies are my favorite sweet. I enjoy them most without frosting, so I always hold a few (okay, more like a dozen) off to the side when my siblings and I decorate them. Rolling the dough out thin will result in a crispier cookie that bakes very quickly, so keep an eye on them. I prefer to roll the dough out a bit thicker, around ¼ inch or more, for a cookie that’s soft on the inside but pleasantly crisp on the outside.
Cathy’s Sugar Cookies
2/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 teaspoons milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Thoroughly cream shortening, sugar, and vanilla using a mixer. Add egg and milk; beat until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients; blend into creamed mixture. Form dough into a ball, then divide in half. Cover and chill at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll the dough on a floured surface to desired thickness. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool slightly, then remove and cool completely.
Thank you, Stephanie, for taking the time to reconnect with us. We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!