Richard Holeton, fiction writer

RICHARD HOLETON, director of Academic Computing Services in the Stanford University Libraries, is one of 40 recipients of a creative writing fellowship awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts last week. The award is designed to give writers the time and freedom to pursue their work. The new fellows come from 20 states and the District of Columbia, according to an NEA press release.  The list of recipients also includes STEPHANIE SOILEAU, a lecturer in Stanford’s English Department and a former Stegner Fellow.

Holeton has published several works of fiction on a variety of platforms, from traditional literary journals to CD-ROM. The Dish caught up with him by email to find out what he thought of it all.

What was your reaction when you were notified that you had received the fellowship?

Absolutely thrilled! Since the stories I submitted had been published in literary journals, which don’t have large readerships or (usually) long afterlives, it’s gratifying to get the recognition of the NEA panel of judges and writers for this work.

The fellowship comes with a monetary award. How much?


You have written several pieces of fiction. Would you name and describe them and where and when they were published?

I’ve published both conventional print fiction and electronic literature (work meant to be read on a computer screen or using a software interface). My hypertext novel Figurski at Findhorn on Acid was published in 2001 by Eastgate Systems (on CD-ROM) and it’s received some critical attention. I have a web fiction in the Electronic Literature Collection Volume 1 and have published some “presentation fiction” (i.e., PowerPoint) and other e-lit. View URLs and other publications.

The two print stories I submitted to the NEA were “Thanks for Covering Your Lane,” published in the Indiana Review in 2006, and “Product Placement,” 2007, Mississippi Review. “Thanks for Covering Your Lane” is narrated by a Gulf War veteran with PTSD and his VA hospital comrades who engage with the local community by swimming at a local pool. “Product Placement” is about a father and teenage daughter with a suicidal friend, set in the final days of Saddam Hussein and amidst an array of consumer products.

Is there something specific you plan to work on with the help of this grant?

I’m working on a novel that relates to video games, and the grant may help me conduct research by, for example, increasing my novice-level fluency with gaming.

When do you write?

On the weekends and whenever I can find an hour or two or three during the week.

What advice would you give those who are trying to balance the demands of their “day jobs” with their creative writing endeavors?

It would be helpful to have a day job that you could completely leave at the end of the day. That’s not exactly the case for me, so my “balance” is very much still a work in progress.

— Elaine Ray