Contributor Interview: Mia Sara

Mia Sara used to be an actress, but recovered her senses and now she writes. Her work has been published in The Superstition Review, Helix, poemmemoirstory, The Summerset Review, PANK, and the Write Room, among many others.

Her chapbook, Mid-Life With Gorilla was published by the Dusie Press, and she had a long running column “Wrought and Found” for PANK Magazine. She lives between New York City and Los Angeles with her husband, Brian Henson, and her children. Her website is

TCR: I’m only going to ask one question about your acting career, so let’s get that out of the way. How does/has acting influence(d) your writing?

Mia Sara: I was a very unhappy actress. It was something I felt I could do, and I needed to work, and I got lucky at the get go, however I was never going to be the kind of actress I admire, because I just didn’t have the drive for the process. I miss traveling, I miss hanging around with film crews drinking too much coffee, the hotel rooms, even bad hotel rooms. Most of all I miss call sheets. If I could find someone to slip a call sheet under my bedroom door every night, so I’d know exactly what I should be doing at every point in the day, I’d be a happy a girl. Because of all those years feeling anxious, unsatisfied, and guilty about it, becoming a writer has been like some spiritual conversion, like all of a sudden I know what gratitude is. Now I understand the artists I love, no matter their medium, because I would write even if I never published a word. I have to write. It’s the only way I can figure anything out. So, maybe all those years of misery and dread were what I needed to overcome, and if so, totally worth it.

TCR: “Life at the Castle” uses Bunratty Castle as a frame in which multiple issues are explored. What led you from the castle steps to urban sprawl, drug use, motherhood, etc.?

MS: I’ve been to Bunratty Castle. I’ve been fortunate to have traveled all over the place, and I’ve felt a sense of belonging in some unexpected places, but no place has had the effect on me that walking into that castle tower, up those wonky spiral stairs, and into the great hall, the bedchambers, the whole building felt like it was saying “So there you are. What took you so long?” Bunratty Castle has become my totem place, representing the ultimate dream of home, and belonging, and the rightness we seem to expect from raising a family. And I also know what a fantasy all of that is. I’m an escapist. I live in my head. I’m also a perfectionist, which is deadly. It’s a way to avoid what’s right in front of you, which can never be perfect, like your house, or your clothes, even your child. I was thinking about that, and how drug use is also a tool for avoidance, and in that way trying to make a connection, to better understand it, to relate to it.

TCR: Many of the descriptions are literal but also provide a history pulled into the present (and future?). Talk about giving physical details that depth of time.

MS: I’m just into details. When I’m reading something, anything, it’s the voice that draws me in, or doesn’t, but it’s the specific physical details that pin me to piece. A felt soled moccasin, a green Bic lighter, the mayonnaise stains on a white linen apron. Like a movie set, with set dressing, and props, and costumes, it’s the details that tell the story for me. That’s my way in.

TCR: Who are you reading right now?

MS: I’m primarily a poet, so I read a lot of poetry. Right now I’m reading Lighthead and How To Be Drawn by Terrance Hayes, The Gaffer by Celeste Gainey, collected poems of Robert Lowell, and I am also a detective fiction addict, so I’m re-reading James Crumley, (the total master!) so “The Dancing Bear” is here on my desk with all the poets.

TCR: Tell us about your editing process.

MS: Well, editing is painful, but I gotta say, poems are easier for me than essays. It’s been a long time since high school and I didn’t go to college, so I came to writing a little bass ackwards, and my grasp of grammar is shaky. I just try for a clean line, a varied rhythm, and I know I use too many damn commas, (!) so I try to remove as many of those little monsters as I can.

TCR: What project(s) are you working on?

MS: I am just about to launch a column for the fine folks at Barrelhouse magazine. Not sure what to call it yet, but if you have a look at the blog over there in June, you’ll find me. I’m slowly putting together a manuscript for a full length poetry book. That’s my summer project.…

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