Firsts: An Interview with Ace Boggess

The Firsts column features Windmill writers talking about their own firsts in both writing and life. Interview conducted by Theresa Pham.

Ace Boggess is both a poet and prose writer. He is the author of the novels A Song Without a Melody (Hyperborea Publishing, 2016) and States of Mercy (forthcoming from Alien Buddha Press). His recent fiction appears in Notre Dame Review, Lumina, and Superstition Review. He received a fellowship in fiction from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and spent five years in a West Virginia prison. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.

Q: What is the first word that pops into your head to describe yourself and why?

A: ‘Terrified.’ I have had unbearable anxieties my entire life. In many ways, they are the cause of my becoming both a writer and an addict.

Q: What was your first dream job?

A: I’ve only had one dream job. In the early 90s, I was a reporter in Huntington. Mostly it involved covering the police beat (for which I don’t fail to see the irony these days) and weekend obits, but I also branched out to cover the local music scene in a time when alternative music was breaking. It was magic to me. It’s the inspiration for my only published novel, A Song Without a Melody.

Q: How did your first book change your process of writing?

A: It didn’t. My first poetry book came out in 2003, and by then I was a drug addict. My writing process revolved around the drugs. I took my dose, read a book until the buzz kicked in, then wrote. My process is essentially the same today—read and then write—just without the dope.

Q: What was the first thing you remember writing? 

A: When I was 11 or 12, I decided I wanted to write an adventure novel about an emerald mine. I wrote the first chapter and then forgot about it. I wrote a lot of first chapters as a teenager.

Q: When was the first time you knew you wanted to be a writer?

A: My sophomore year in college I finished my first novel (not good novel, mind you, but something complete), a horror/fantasy novel that I’m embarrassed to think about. Still, I knew at that point that I had to keep going. That same year I wrote an obnoxious experimental novel, followed the next year by a slapstick comedy (a much-shortened version of which will be published later this year after only a quarter of a century). Then, my writing took a more literary turn and I couldn’t stop. In law school, a professor asked me in class why I went by Ace, and just to say something, I said, “I’m a writer.” He replied, “Well, now you’re a lawyer,” and I said, “No, I’m a writer,” as I looked down at the journal in front of me which already had the first few chapters of my next novel.

Q: When was the first time you felt successful/like a real writer?

A: In ’97, I found an agent for one of my novels. It didn’t sell, but the fact an agent took me on after years of rejections was mind-blowing. Then, around the turn of the millennium, first Notre Dame Review and then Harvard Review accepted poems I’d written. Those were the biggest successes I’d had to that point, and I felt like I was on my way.

Q: How did you celebrate your first book?

A: Oh, that was one of the most fun nights of my life. I premiered the book at my home-away-from-home, a bar/restaurant called Calamity Café in Huntington, West Virginia. In order to build the audience, after the reading, I hosted a poetry slam, took the sign-up list and, as I read each name, introduced the poets with bizarre, fanciful bios that I made up on the spot. We had a lot of laughs, and I sold a lot of books—two of my favorite things. What a wonderful evening.

Ace Boggess’ short story Embraced by Every Atom of the Universe is forthcoming in the 2019 edition of Windmill.

Meet the Windmill Staff


Welcome to Windmill: The Hofstra Journal of Literature and Art! Our staff is so excited to bring this year’s print issue of Windmill to life, and we hope that you are excited too. We have been busy gathering and editing content for the journal that are sure you all will love, but we wanted to give you a glimpse at the people behind the curtain who are making sure that this issue of Windmill will be the very best yet. So, without further ado, meet the Spring 2019 Windmill Staff!

From left to right: Theresa Pham, Olivia Beaton, Sabrina Noury, Hannah Aronowitz, Kelly McMasters, Christian Santos, Maia Loy


Kelly McMasters

Kelly is the co-founder (with Publisher Melissa Connolly) and the Editor-in-Chief of Windmill; she also runs the class that is responsible for putting together each issue of Windmill. Kelly loves Windmill because the experience of making each issue changes so dramatically each time. She believes that what’s happening in the world politically and culturally, the writers and thinkers visiting out campus, and the personalities in the classroom all swirls together into its own unique object. She also loves the experience of building the book, comparing it to a real windmill with each student pulling their own weight and circling together to build a powerful energy. A fun fact about Kelly is that she first came to Hofstra was as a young music competition student with NYSSMA in sixth grade. She remembers walking around and feeling incredibly small compared to the huge building, the grounds, and the college students, fearing a mix of fear and possibility; she loves feeling that all over again with each issue of Windmill!

Nicole Dykeman

Nicole is one of the managing editors of Windmill. She helps manage contact with authors, sorts through submissions, and lays out the Windmill issues in WordPress and Adobe InDesign. A fun fact about Nicole is that she’s read 68 books so far this year!

Kira Turetzky

Kira is one of the managing editors of Windmill. She is largely responsible for overseeing the submissions process and laying out the interior of the journal. She has been involved with Windmill since her freshman year and has been a managing editor for a year and a half. She loves creating the journal from the ground up, working on InDesign to create, design, and lay out both the interior and exterior. A couple fun facts about Kira are that she is a junior with a double major in English Publishing Studies and Geology, and she hopes to combine her interests in publishing and earth science to work as an editor for National Geographic!

Ashrena Ali

Ashrena is the MFA Fellow of Windmill. She reads and makes comments on submissions for all categories. She has also conducted an interview with Mitchell Jackson, and she has written a blog post on a Latin American translator and poet, Raquel Lansero. She loves Windmill because she believes in its mission to serve as both an idea and image, and she loves having the opportunity to read hundreds of thousands of new and emerging writers from all over the world as a collective force to bring about new energy and creativity. She loves being a part of something that considers what literature was in the past, how we can bring about change now, and what it can lead to in our future. A fun fact about Ashrena is that she owns the entire Nancy Drew series, and she bought most of the books in Trinidad to complete her collection.

Theresa Pham

Theresa is the Associate Editor of Windmill. She loves Windmill because it is student run, and each edition of Windmill is a representation of the group of students itself which makes it special and different. A fun fact about Theresa is that she wants to travel the world and see what there is to offer.

Sabrina Noury

Sabrina is the Conversations Editor for Windmill. She loves the diversity and exploration that this edition of Windmill is doing in terms of the layout and the content of the stories. A fun fact about Sabrina is that she wrote and published a teen fiction book in 2017 called Silent Luna.

Christian Santos

Christian is the Fiction Editor for Windmill. Christian loves Windmill because he loves all things narrative, so he was bound to love Windmill. A fun fact about Christian is that he got a “D” in seventh grade English.

Olivia Beaton

Olivia is the Creative Nonfiction Editor for Windmill. She loves Windmill because it’s so exciting to find pieces that she feels passionately about, and she loves getting to connect with those writers and follow them throughout their careers. Some fun facts about Olivia are that she is a yoga teacher and she is working on her own essay collection.

Hannah Aronowitz

Hannah is the Production Editor for Windmill. She loves Windmill because it allows her to gain real-world publishing experience without having to go into Manhattan. A fun fact about Hannah is that she has a dog named Kevin.

Rae Farina

Rae is one of the interns at Windmill and runs the social media accounts for Windmill. She loves Windmill because it brings together so many diverse pieces of writing and art that it is easy for anyone to find a piece that really speaks to them. A fun fact about Rae is that she is very into natural/herbal remedies and medicine.

Emily Duffy

Emily is another one of the interns at Windmill. She reads through submissions for the journal and creates content for the blog (a prime example: this post!). Emily loves Windmillbecause it gives her the opportunity to read diverse stories from many different writers. A fun fact about her is that she has met Taylor Swift.

Check out our third print edition on ISSUU!


As we dive head-first into work on our fourth print issue, the time has come to share our third issue with you. In her publisher’s note, Melissa Connolly sums up our feelings about issue number three:

In this, our third printed edition of Windmill, we continue to learn lessons.

Since our staff is an odd amalgamation of MFA students, undergraduate volunteers, and a one-credit publishing studies class, some of those lessons are obvious, and the questions posed along the way are usually voiced in a slightly annoyed tone: Why isn’t Submittable letting me write notes on this piece? Why does the printer keep talking about signatures? Why can’t I add a second line to the title in this InDesign template?

But other lessons are more subtle, and longer lasting: How to find beauty in writing, and how to discuss the merits of different types of work? How to find consensus? How to take disparate pieces and create something whole, something organic, something even—dare I say—beautiful? And perhaps the most important: how to continue to love writing and art and this literary magazine when you’ve spent the last several hours making small windmill-shaped section dividers for the book that should have been at the printer last week?

This is the part of the unseen work, along with the opportunity to comb through the pages of emerging and established writers line by line, word by word, and work with them on perfecting and publishing their art. Along with these short stories and essays, it is also our charge at Windmill to explore the relationship between creativity and art through our narrative features and interviews. In this issue, we learn about poet and teacher Jane Wong’s craft and highlight a selection of her poems. We also hear from vibrant personalities who visited us at Hofstra this year, including renowned choreographer Twyla Tharp, who shared her thoughts on the creative habit, and the illustrative John McPhee, who discussed the painstaking process of writing, and rewriting.

We even spend some time with our founding editor, Kelly McMasters, who normally writes this letter, but stepped away from much of the day-to-day process of putting this book together this year to tend to the publication of another: This Is the Place: Women Writing About Home, an essay collection she edited with Margot Kahn. In this issue’s Faculty Spotlight, we see Kelly through the eyes of her MFA student, Lily Vu, and consider the twin crafts of creative non-fiction and editing.

Much of our fiction has a distinctly dark and dystopian feel to it, led off with the familiar-yet-postapocalyptic world that colors previous Windmill contributor Heather Whited’s “Things Read by Moonlight,” and the darkly real suburbia in Matthew McGevna’s chilling “The First Few Steps.” It’s in the nonfiction that we feel the immediacy of the natural world, the poetry of the every day—our hometown, the nature we surround ourselves with—whether in Jen Fitzgerald’s meditation on loss and solitude in “Shuttle Launch” or through Akiko Busch’s memory essay “Home in Seven Acts.”

And so the art we chose for this collection reflected the frenetic nature of our written selections: homey yet unfamiliar, beautiful but with dark and foreboding shadows. The otherworldly tulips of the cover, Russian Red Really by Bear Kosik, illustrate this sensibility––natural, yet false; something so familiar and every day that seems just a little off, in a way we cannot quite define. Perhaps this, then, the collected works of friends new and old, of writers and artists, is in its entirety a reflection of our times—the shadows that line the unfamiliar road, the acknowledgment of a work- in-progress, the promise of tomorrow, the beauty of the everyday moment. In days both dark and light, perhaps that is all we can hope for. Perhaps that is what art and writing provide.

Lessons learned.

Melissa Connolly Publisher

Check it out on ISSUU!


Submissions Are Open!: The 2019 Print Issue

It’s that time of year, folks! We are so excited about this year’s print issue of Windmill and we hope that you are too!

For our print issue, we are seeking short stories and essays, both fiction and creative nonfiction, that celebrate strong narrative voice. We strive to showcase both emerging and established writers. Our print issues are not themed and submissions should be 5,000 words or less. Longer pieces are judged at a higher standard. Additionally, please note that we are not accepting poetry submissions at this time.

Submissions are live now, and we are accepting submissions until April 1, 2019.


The Print Edition Is Here!

After a long semester and an even longer summer, we’re so proud to announce that our print edition is here! Keep an eye out for the digital copy of this edition––it will be posted to our website in a few short weeks!

We’d like to thank our brilliant authors and our wonderful artists for their dedication to this edition. Through selection, editing, formatting, and (finally) printing, they’ve been with us through and through, and they’ve truly made this year’s print edition spectacular.

Above are pictured two of our fantastic authors, Matthew McGevna (left) and Elizabeth Trueblood (right.) We’ll be sharing links to their social pages, along with our other contributors, very soon!

Many thanks,

The Windmill Staff