We’re delighted to announce that Hannah Grieco is the latest addition to the Team Barrelhouse roster! Read on to find out more about her work, what she’ll be looking for, and, of course, her favorite Swayze.
Okay, first: tell us about all the things you do that aren’t Barrelhouse-adjacent!
I’m a writer and education and disability advocate in the DC area. I was a teacher before I became a mom, but now I work with families who are struggling to get the services they need in schools. I freelance regularly, focusing most of my essays on education, disability, and parenting. It gets draining, though. I recharge with fiction.
Can you tell us about something you’ve recently published?
Sure! I've recently been writing more humor and satirical pieces, such as this one at McSweeney's. My weird sense of humor pops up in fiction and satire, though it's less appreciated in parenting and education publications!
What made you want to work with us?
A combination of the people and the work you publish. I entered the literary world late, in my forties, and it was an overwhelming and demoralizing experience at first. But you all warmly welcome new writers into your world. Anyone can pull a chair up to the table. So I did. I just elbowed my way in and started reading and talking and learning.
And the stories, essays, and poetry you publish – authentic, weird, and different than I’d seen anywhere else. I was all-in from day one.
What are you looking for in fiction submissions? What makes a story stand out from the slush pile for you?
I like a story that gets ugly fast. No dancing around from a distance. When a writer dives into the hard stuff and shows me how bold they can be – I love that. Honest, funny, real. Also, I like really weird shit. The weirder the better.
Who are some of your favorite contemporary fiction writers?
Andrew Sean Greer, Tyrese Coleman, Meg Pillow Davis, Colson Whitehead, Melanie Hatter, Hugh Howey, David Sedaris, Kristen Arnett. I love novels, but honestly – with my kids and work, it’s all about short stories right now.
If you could change one thing about the current lit world, what would it be?
The idea that so many people have that this is a distanced, unattainable, talent-or-no-talent, elite world. If you read and write, listen and stay open to ideas, then your work will offer something to readers. I got lucky by beginning this journey at a later age. Rejection doesn’t have the same impact on me now, though it would have gutted me as a younger woman. Now I use it to learn how to make my work better.
I wish more successful authors shared their experiences about editing work, rejections, feelings of being an imposter, etc. Those stories make such a difference in demystifying the writing process. This isn’t some kind of cool club to be a member of. It’s art, and it’s for everyone.
We’re legally obligated to ask you this: what’s your favorite Patrick Swayze movie?
Obviously Dirty Dancing! Though Point Break is a close second.