Posted by Literary Titan
The Contest and Other Stories is a collection of inspiring stories that got me to think and reflect. What was the inspiration behind this collection?
JD: I originally wanted to create a coffee table art book with all paintings connected to a framing story.
KR: Around 2007 or 2008, Joe started bringing these quirky short stories inspired by paintings to the critique group in Prescott, Arizona that we both belonged to.
In February 2011, he shared his draft and invited me to assist with the project as a co-author. We continued to work on polishing the stories and the connecting novella together. In our bios, we say that he has the vivid imagination and I have the word-whacking polish, but the truth is, we both contributed to the imaginative creation and to the nuts and bolts polishing and editing. We multiplied our mind-power by working together!
What were some themes you find yourself exploring in your short stories?
JD: The relationships artists have with drinking, higher consciousness, and insanity.
KR: As Joe says, some of the stories explore the artists’ lives directly in the genres of magical realism, dark fantasy, horror, the paranormal, and alternate history, or as a fabulous motif. The other stories were developed using a painting as a prompt, but have no relation to the artist or their work. Those stories explore life challenges and transitions such as birth, death, falling in love, relationships, family life, and work, also through the medium of various fantasy genres. The connecting novella explores the archetypal overbearing father who insists that his only son follow in his footsteps, while the son rebels to make his unique contribution to arts and literature.
What is the collaboration like between the two of you?
JD: Long distance.
KR: By the time Joe and I started working together on this project, he lived in Arizona and I had landed in California. So we shared thoughts and drafts for The Contest and Other Stories via email.
Will you be putting together another collection of short stories?
JD: We’ve been working on solo projects lately. I completed a connected short story collection in 2016 titled Story Time Karaoke @ The Chicagoua Cafe.
KR: I’ve been working on stories inspired by dreams and a novella created entirely from a series of dreams, with a working title of Loop: Life is But a Dream.
As for other joint projects, Joe and I just published a humorous dystopian sci-fi novelette, Space Race: Robot Rebellion in the Future Wild West (Tootie-Do Press, 2018). We also have a YA story, Thirteen, published in an anthology called 31 Nights of Halloween (Rainstorm Press, 2011). Neither of these stories fit the theme of The Contest, so we searched for other alternatives for publication.
Inspired by the works of international artists, this collection contains nineteen spellbinding Young Adult – New Adult magical realist, paranormal, slipstream, alternate history, and fabulist tales linked by a novella: Peter John Rizzo, a 1960 graduate of Yale University’s journalism program, inherits a floundering art magazine from his uncle, John Rizzo, with the provision that he must increase the circulation or forfeit all assets to creditors. Peter Rizzo, Pete’s father, is a banker who scorns careers in the Arts and Humanities, and is jealous of his late brother’s influence upon his wife and son. Classic Art Expose’s devoted but unorthodox editorial assistant, Jason, and two university interns, sisters Shirley and Evie, help Pete start a monthly short story contest with artwork prompts, hoping to expand and save the business. As the four friends publish the winning (and sometimes disturbing) stories over the following eighteen months, Pete battles his father’s attempts to ruin his business and his reputation, and in the process, discovers a sordid family secret. What else could possibly go astray?
Posted in Interviews
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Posted by Literary Titan
The Contest and Other Stories by Joe Dibuduo and Kate Robinson is an amazing book about finding yourself and doing what you love. The book has some amazing and inspiring stories such as one that introduces a man named Peter. A banker who longs to have a career in art and the approval of his uptight father. He may get the chance with an untimely death in the family that will send him on a journey of self-discovery. There are also stories that tie into the main story. One, in particular, is about Vincent van Gough and the struggles he had to overcome to become the artist we know today. This book examines the struggles, trials, and accomplishments we all face and delivers a positive message that no matter what life throws at you, you have to make yourself happy. Don’t let what someone else thinks or feels about you matter because at the end of the day it’s about what you think or feel about yourself.
The Contest and Other Stories written by Joe Dibuduo and Kate Robinson is very inspirational and heartwarming. I love how the writers captured the struggles that each individual character went through, the longing for approval and acceptance of others and their fears of the unknown. I felt that the layout of the book could have a better structure. One moment I was reading one story and then the book jumps into another. Without some orientation, this can be a little jarring. One example of this is in The Contest; there is a painting of Van Gogh that was used in the contest and then immediately we go into a story about Van Gogh.
After each chapter the authors leave you with a cliffhanger that makes you want to keep reading. Even though this book jumps back and forth between stories, it’s a minor quibble, and I find this book worthwhile in all aspects. I would recommend this book to anyone that feels like they aren’t good enough or feel like they need some encouraging words. This is an engaging and entertaining read that will leave you with a positive feeling.
Pages: 250 | ASIN: B07HY21GKS
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