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Work Samples

THERE opening pages (dragged).pdf

Opening pages from my debut novel THERE—2011 winner of the Emergency Press International Book Award and published by the Press in 2013. THERE is inspired by my experiences living in Kurdistan, Iraq in 2007 & 2008. Claire Luchette of Bustle said this about it: "As an American writing about time spent in the Middle East, Rounds’ voice is mercifully free of the hubris and self-pride that infects many Western travelers. This story has been skimmed of Orientalist attitudes and biases; this is a rare protagonist whose eyes have not been clouded with self-righteous assumptions and expectations."
PDF icon THERE opening pages (dragged).pdf

SheNamedHimMichael.pdf

The first ten pages of my novella SHE NAMED HIM MICHAEL, published by Ink Press in 2017 and winner of the 2017 City Paper Best of Fiction award. This is an experimental/cross-genre work of prose inspired by the true story of Miracle Mike the Headless Chicken—a Colorado chicken that managed to live for 18 months without a head. It’s a story about the fragility and resilience of nature and life, war, the grief associated with loss, how we might live with our dead and the unexpected ways in which one might choose to foster the life of another as a strategy for giving meaning to their own. 
PDF icon SheNamedHimMichael.pdf

ChickenMICHAEL.jpg

Cover art for SHE NAMED HIM MICHAEL. Illustration by Teddy Johnson.

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About Heather

Heather Rounds received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Baltimore in 2007. After graduating she took a teaching job in Kurdistan, Iraq and while there briefly did some journalism for a local, English speaking newspaper. Her experiences with the paper served as the inspiration for her debut novel, There, which won Emergency Press’ 2011 International book award and was published by the Press in 2013. Though she started her publishing career as a poet, over the years she’s moved into... more

There: an experimental novel

After graduating with my MFA I took a teaching job in Kurdistan, Iraq and while there briefly did some journalism for a local, English speaking newspaper. My experiences with the paper served as the inspiration for my debut novel, There, which won Emergency Press’ 2011 International book award and was published by the Press in 2013.

This book gets to the bone of what I seek to most get out of the writing experience: An exploration of place, history and culture by way of the lyrical and visual, placing high value on the way words sound and look on the page, as well as the white space that surrounds them.

Synopsis: There follows a young American journalist working in the capital city of the northern Kurdish region of Iraq, a land verging on economic boom, but never far from a violent past. A cross-genre work that most closely resembles a novel, the story is at once driven and diverted by the young reporter’s struggles to negotiate her own uncertainties in a strange land— observing, participating, and retreating daily from the people and events surrounding her. Assigned reports that the newspaper bosses deem fit for an inexperienced female foreigner, she ultimately turns to writing her own story, relayed with careful attention to the intricacies of language rhythm, acoustics, and repletion. What she discovers is that her own in-betweenness is only amplified in this foreign place, that the tension between ancient customs and contemporary conflicts somehow provides a familiar backdrop for her own attempts to relate to the people back home who, confused by her choice to travel to a dangerous place, ask, why go there?”

She Named Him Michael: an experimental novella

World War II has ended and on a farm in the Great Valley of Colorado, the youngest son failed to return from Normandy, leaving the mother tucked in bed with grief and a ticking in her ear. In the fields, the velvetleaf weeds are encroaching on the sugar beets and the oldest son and the wife can barely keep up with the demand of the work. Life changes in a night, when the oldest son fails to cut the head clean off the dinner chicken. When the chicken survives the blow, the wife decides to name him Michael. Soon realizing the fortune that can come from a headless, living chicken, the oldest son and wife take off for life on the road with the traveling circus’ Tent of Nature’s Mistakes. The rest is history, a strange journey in a world where tigers have three legs and elephants have no ears and chickens have no heads.

This is an experimental/cross-genre work of prose inspired by the true story of Miracle Mike the Headless Chicken—a Colorado chicken that managed to live for 18 months without a head. It’s a story about the fragility and resilience of nature and life, war, the grief associated with loss, how we might live with our dead and the unexpected ways in which one might choose to foster the life of another as a strategy for giving meaning to their own. The book was published by Ink Press in 2017.

some published stories

My poetry and short works of fiction have appeared in a variety of publications, including PANK, The Baltimore Review, Poet Lore, Big Lucks, Smokelong Quarterly, Breakwater Review and Atticus Review.

In addition to sharing my work through publication, I enjoy participating in readings both locally and elsewhere. I gave my first reading at the 14Karat Cabaret’s Shattered Wig night back in 2006 and through the years I’ve read at a number of reading series/events, including the Worms Reading Series, Artichoke Haircut, 510 Reading Series and the Starts Here Reading Series. Participating in the Baltimore arts community is something I truly value.

some published prose poems

My poetry and short works of fiction have appeared in a variety of publications, including PANK, The Baltimore Review, Poet Lore, Big Lucks, Smokelong Quarterly, Breakwater Review and Atticus Review.

In addition to sharing my work through publication, I enjoy participating in readings both locally and elsewhere. I gave my first reading at the 14Karat Cabaret’s Shattered Wig night back in 2006 and through the years I’ve read at a number of reading series/events, including the Worms Reading Series, Artichoke Haircut, 510 Reading Series and the Starts Here Reading Series. Participating in the Baltimore arts community is something I truly value.

project in progress

I began working on my current project in 2014, after my first of two trips to Armenia. While there I conducted research in the town of Gyumri—a former cultural capital of the Caucuses region, 80% destroyed after a 1988 earthquake, which took the lives of approximately 25,000. Twenty-some years later and thousands of Gyumri families still wait for permanent government housing, while living in shanty towns called domiks, consisting of metal containers and scavenged materials, often devoid of basic amenities. During my time in Gyumri I visited with and interviewed several people affected by the long-term devastation of the 1988 earthquake. I spent time with the grassroots NGO Shirak Center, which dedicates itself to the day-to-day needs of domik families. Additionally, I devoted time to recording personal observations with notes and photographs. This research is now being used to write a novel, set in Gyumri. I’m currently working to weave together fictive and non-fictive elements to tell the story of an American protagonist, Sara, visiting Gyumri, Armenia with artistic pursuits in mind. As Sara navigates unforeseen challenges associated with her host town and her objectives, she must also confront herself—her past, present and future. In additional to telling a fictional story, the novel seeks to explore questions of what happens to societies struck by natural disasters long after the media and public attention has turned away. This work is currently in second draft form.

From a craft standpoint, this work is quite different from my previous work. As a more traditional novel -- plot-wise, character development-wise -- I see this project as an opportunity to enter new writerly territories and, ultimately, improve my craft.

Connect with Heather

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Heather's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.