Craft Chat with Virginia Hartman and Annie Liontas

Join us online for a virtual craft chat with GW faculty novelists Virginia Hartman and Annie Liontas! 

The Writer’s Center presents a FREE virtual chat about the craft of fiction! We’re joined by novelists Virginia Hartman (The Marsh Queen) and Annie Liontas (Let Me Explain You) for a discussion of their books and writing.

RSVP to receive login information (our virtual events are held via Zoom). FREE and open to the public, all times Eastern.

Virginia Hartman’s debut novel The Marsh Queen will be published by Gallery/Simon & Schuster in May 2022. Her fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in the Hudson ReviewAlaska Quarterly Review, the WashingtonianReduxPotomac ReviewDelmarva ReviewBeltway Poetry QuarterlySligo Journal, and Bluebird City, among others, and her work has been anthologized in Gravity Dancers: Even More Fiction by Washington Area Women (Paycock Press). She is also the co-editor, with Barbara Esstman, of A More Perfect Union: Poems and Stories about the Modern Wedding. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her writing has been supported by the Sewanee Writer’s Conference and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her stories have been shortlisted for the New Letters prize, the Tennessee Williams Festival Prize, and the Dana Awards. She holds an MFA from American University and teaches creative writing at George Washington University in Washington, DC, and has taught at The Writer’s Center since 2005.

In her fiction, readers might notice a preoccupation with the workings of the natural world, the intertwining of the intellect and the human heart, and the ways her characters must navigate between the sometimes overlapping forces of good and evil.

Annie Liontas‘ debut novel, Let Me Explain You (Scribner), was featured in The New York Times Book Review as Editor’s Choice and was selected by the ABA as an Indies Introduce Debut and Indies Next title.  She is the co-editor of the anthology A Manner of Being: Writers on their Mentors.  Annie’s work has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, NPR, Gay Magazine, BOMB, Guernica, McSweeney’s, and Ninth Letter, and she is a contributor to Tolstoy Together: Reading War & Peace with Yiyun Li. She served as Visiting Writer at UCDavis, University of Massachusetts, and Bryn Mawr College before joining George Washington University.  Annie has served as a mentor for Pen City’s incarcerated writers, working with the Prison Writing Project at the Connally Maximum Security Penitentiary.  The Gloss, her interview series with women and non-binary writers, is running at BOMB, The Believer, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, and elsewhere.

About the Books

For fans of Where the Crawdads Sing, this powerful debut novel, The Marsh Queen, set amid the lush landscape of the Florida wetlands, delves into past crimes, old memories, and the eloquent, limitless expanse of parental love. Loni Mae Murrow’s life as a bird artist at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, is tidy, if a trifle constrained—until she’s abruptly summoned back home to the wetlands of northern Florida, where she grew up. Her mother, critical and difficult, has grown frail and been resentfully consigned to assisted living, and her younger brother, Phil, juggling a job, a wife, and two young children, needs her help. Loni may not be her mother’s only child, but there are some things only a daughter can do.

Going through her mother’s things when she returns, Loni finds a cryptic note from a woman whose name she doesn’t recognize: “There are some things I have to tell you about Boyd’s death,” it reads. Boyd is her father, a man who drowned in a boating accident out on the marsh when Loni was twelve and Phil just a baby. The circumstances of his death, long presumed a suicide, turn out to be murkier than anyone thought.

Against her better judgment, she finds herself drawn into a dangerous quest to discover the truth about how he died, struggling all the while to reconnect with her mother through the remnants of their past and to reconcile with her brother and his pushy, provincial wife. At last moved to avenge the wrongs done to her family, Loni has to decide whether to join the violence or end it.

A powerful debut novel about a Greek American family and its enigmatic patriarch from a riveting new voice in contemporary literature. Stavros Stavros Mavrakis, Greek immigrant and proud owner of the Gala Diner, believes he has just ten days to live. As he prepares for his final hours, he sends a scathing email to his ex-wife and three grown daughters, outlining his wishes for how they each might better live their lives. With varying degrees of laughter and scorn, his family and friends dismiss his behavior as nothing more than a plea for attention, but when Stavros disappears, those closest to him are forced to confront the possibility of his death.

A vibrant tour de force that races to a surprising conclusion, Let Me Explain You is told from multiple perspectives: Stavros Stavros, brimming with pride and cursing in broken English; his eldest daughter Stavroula, a talented chef in love with her boss’s daughter; her sister, the wounded but resilient Litza; and many other voices who compose a veritable Greek chorus.

By turns hilarious and deeply moving, this multigenerational novel delivers a heartfelt meditation on the power of storytelling and family, the relationship between fathers and daughters, and also the complex bond of sisterhood. Annie Liontas explores our origins and family myths, hunger and what feeds us, reinvention and forgiveness.

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