Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Amber Koneval~Drunk Dialing the Divine

Drunk Dialing the Divine
 This is an introduction to Amber Koneval, writer of Drunk Dialing the Divine.
  Just like many of my fellow writer buddies, I am a Goodreads fan, and recently I met Amber Koneval there. She is a poet and women's fiction writer, with a new poetry book release, “Drunk Dialing the Divine”. (Awesome title, right? I know it certainly would catch my attention)!

As part of her book tour, I agreed to cohost and do an interview. Here it is! And at the end of the post will be a giveaway for her book, so don't forget to enter, and share the news with your friends!

When did you first begin writing? Tell us a little bit about yourself.

AK: I first began writing when a teacher forced me to back in middle school. I hated it then, to be honest. I really didn’t start enjoying it until I decided to take a Creative Writing class on a whim in high school. Figured it would be an easy A. But the teacher was just so passionate and open about the different ways in which poetry could be written, and so encouraging, that I ended up really wanting to be good about it. For a while after that, I wrote basically mimicking other poets that I read. Only recently have I begun to really own my own style and be able to defend myself in my writing. It’s nice.
About myself- I’m the middle child of six. I’m Roman Catholic, and very Irish. My only pet is a royal (also known as ball) python named Seviper. I love cats, though. I write both poetry and fiction, under separate names. I’m about to graduate from college this December, with a double major in English and Religious Studies through the Honors track.
Amber Koneval Drunk Dialing the Divine

What places can we find you at?

Physically? I hang around Denver, Colorado where I live- so the Innisfree Poetry Café, or the Tattered Cover on Colfax for Open Mic Nights.
Electronically? I have a website (, Blog ( and Tumblr ( I’m also on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as having profiles on Poets & Writers, the Colorado Poet’s Center, and plenty of other writing sites.
So when did you begin putting together “Drunk Dialing the Divine”?
I started putting together ‘Drunk Dialing the Divine’ while I was in the middle of shopping a full manuscript of all of my poetry called ‘To My First Love at Midnight’ sometime last May. I ended up realizing that a) a lot of presses were rejecting my manuscript because of the religious poems included and b) I wrote a lot more religious poetry than I thought I did. I realized that I would be better off writing my religious poetry and my autobiographical poetry separate. So I pulled out all of my religious poetry and started seeing how I could put it together. I ended up finding this theme with my earlier religious poetry that surrounded around a sense of anger and confusion- so I decided that my first collection would be about that. It was the starting point of my own faith journey, and so it would be a fitting start for my religious poetry collections.

How would you describe it to a reader?

It’s not ‘common’ inspirational poetry, but it’s not blasphemy either. It’s this in-between kind of collection. If it was a person, I would suppose it would be that kid you know at church who wants to be religious, really does, but just doesn’t have the confidence or the trust in order to put their faith wholly in God- but then goes to a retreat where she realizes that she doesn’t have to give up her doubt in order to have faith. That doubt and anger can, in their own ways, be indicative of a strong relationship with God- if we have the courage and humility to be honest about how we feel
with our Creator. It’s poetry you give to someone who is struggling, but doesn’t want to be patronized or told to just pray it away. It’s a story of the beginning of a true relationship.
Drunk Dialing the Divine

What was the inspiration for it?

There’s a poem in the collection of the same name that I usually cite as the inspiration of the collection as a whole. A friend called me at three a.m. one night, drunk as a skunk- but instead of doing the usual awkward asking for sex or random rambling, he all of the sudden, very clearly, asked me to pray for him. It’s a moment that’s really held me for some time. It’s given me a lot to think about- was this guy blasphemous for daring to speak of God when he was very obviously blasted, or was he holy for having God as the first thing on his mind, even when gone? How do we ourselves treat people who call out for God’s help at their lowest points? Do we scoff at them for being bandwagon Christians, or do we commend them for seeking His grace? I’ve seen plenty of people do the first, and less the second- even to themselves. So many people get so down on themselves for wanting to believe in God but being mad at him, or making a mess of their lives but still wanting to pray. I wanted to explore this idea of struggling in God meaning being completely honest with oneself and with one’s God- it being okay to be angry or lost or confused, as long as it’s dealt with constructively, and in love.

What is the poem most definitive of your work? Most important to you?

Oh, jeez. I’ve written more than four hundred poems over the past couple of years, and I will never be able to answer that question. My work is always changing, just like I am, so there’s no real ‘definitive’ poem. Also, what is ‘most important’ to me changes every month, because I’m in a different emotional state every month. Right now, that poem would be ‘Our Lady of the New Advent’, which is forthcoming in an issue of St. Austin’s Review. I have a deep devotion to Mother Mary, and my reflection poems regarding her and prayers invoking her help are most helpful to me when I really feel lost in my own calling and feel weak as a woman. Focusing on her and her role in salvation history is a source of strength for me, and I need that right now. So that poem is most important to me today. Tomorrow, it will be something else.
Drunk Dialing the Divine

What are the stories, historical or fictional, that inspire you most?

Fairy-tales. I love fairy-tales. I love the way that they are, or can become, applicable to every situation in almost every culture with just a tweak here and there. In my fiction writing, I myself re-tell fairy-tales in order to bring awareness to women’s issues.
I also really enjoy re-tellings or historical fiction regarding Biblical stories (like the Red Tent, or the Bad Girls of the Bible series). A lot of people tell me that those things are campy, but I honestly thing that these stories continue the work that the Bible itself does- bring the revelation of God to His people where they need it, and in a way that becomes understandable in today’s context.

Do you have a pattern for writing that you've formed? Do you like to listen to certain kinds of music while you write? Do certain kinds inspire you?

I bring my little notebook with me everywhere, so that I can write whenever I’m inspired. I tend to write an entire stanza in my head before I’ll put it down on paper, though. But I write in weird places- in class, at concerts, in movie-theatres, during dinner, at Church. I like to catch in-the-moment feelings as much as humanly possible. So I tend not to have any fixed routine that would prevent me from writing the second inspiration hits.

What do you hope to accomplish in the next few years, and in the future?

I hope to publish my next two collections to complete my ‘faith journey in poetry’ pseudo-trilogy. It’s taken a bit of a back burner in regards to my fiction writing at the moment, but once I graduate college here in the next semester I’m going to have plenty of time to finish those up. I really would like to be able to live off of my writing, but that’s not going to happen if I don’t work hard every single day from here on out. If I have to work, though, I want to continue to work for the Church, particularly as a youth minister or sacristan. I love working in a faith environment. It's comfortable and challenging.
What can we expect to see of your writing over the next few years? Anything particular you're working on?
Right now, I’m working on getting my second collection published- it’s a collection of poetry that I wrote while on a missions trip to Kenya in 2010, when I thought I was dying. It’s a continuation of my faith journey- first I had to deal with the anger, then I had to really get outside of myself and my comfort zone to see the bigger picture. I’m also compiling my third collection, which will take the lessons learned through the first two collections and show the continuing struggle to apply those lessons to daily life in devotionals and applying blanket lessons about faith to bizarre situations (that happened to me) that challenged what I thought I knew and my capacity to love and trust.

I really enjoyed getting to know Amber. I suggest that you all visit her website, read her book, and tell me what you think! It's certainly on my list!

E. C. Shore

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