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Quirky and Resilient Characters Abound in Kathie Giorgio's Latest Works

Author Kathie Giorgio will be the first to tell you that her new book of short stories are not fairytales.

The compilation, called Oddities and Endings,  includes 40 stories about unusual characters wrestling with life's difficulties. The collection is the result of work that she's published over the years in various literary magazines. 

The tales are about characters -- a woman who starts a partnership with an iguana, a rapist who conceives that he can forge a relationship with his son who is the product of the rape and another woman who obsesses over a tattoo of a stranger. Other stories include men and women dealing with loneliness in unique ways as they get older. 

"I think that quirky characters bring readers into a story," explains Giorgio. "Then they find someone who is a little bit unusual, who is a little bit different than they are, but experiencing the same things that they do."

Giorgio infuses her characters - ranging from male to female, old to young, gay to straight, victim to perpetrator - with a common humanity. In order to do this, she says she strives not to operate on stereotypes.

When Giorgio writes from the male perspective, "I don't sit back and think, 'Okay...how how would a man think that? Or how would a man phrase that?'" Instead, she says,  "I try to get into the individual character. How would this particular person say this?"

She explains, "It's sort of like method acting, where while I'm writing [my stories], whether I'm in the first, second or third person, I become [the character] and try to write from their mental point of view."

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Credit kathiegiorgio.org

Her stories also address what can be deemed as the messiness of life. She writes about victims and perpetrators of sexual assault and couples dealing with miscarriages, financial struggles or health issues. However, Giorgio wants readers to know that her stories are not intended to bring readers down.

"Many times my work has been called depressing, or dark," she says. "I've never thought of it that way. It's redemptive and I work very hard on making sure that the characters come out at the end. I want to show characters going through tremendous situations where they do have to struggle, but they survive, and they come out the other end better for it."

Her new book of poetry, called True Light Falls, addresses her creative writing workshops and experience of seasonal affective disorder.

Giorgio says that humor and optimism can be found in both collections. "My way of dealing with a lot of things,is to always find something to laugh at," she says.

Giorgio will have a book launch Thursday evening at UW-Waukesha, which includes an on-stage interview with former Lake Effect producer Stephanie Lecci.  

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Maayan Silver has been a reporter with WUWM’s News Team since 2018.