Armand Inezian is not your average 9-5 work day professional roaming the halls of the Harvard School of Public Health, probing into matters of the body, though you will find him working there during the week.
He is a published fiction writer and the founder of the Boston Fiction Festival based in Roslindale, where he is also a resident.
“There are a only a few stars who make a living only writing,” said Inezian. “Most of us do a grab-bag type thing and do a little editing, teaching and writing to get by.”
Inezian is from Los Angeles and has a master’s degree in creative writing from Emerson College. He works a day job at the Harvard School of Public Health doing grant writing, “so I can pay the bills,” he said. His free time is spent teaching freshmen introduction to English composition classes at Curry College and organizing and running the festival, as well as writing his own short stories.
“I’ve always liked the idea of story-telling,” said Inezian. “As a kid I was inspired by science-fiction and comics. By my late 20s I had drifted into literary writing.”
Inezian founded the festival two years ago. “I wanted to start an online journal, but there are already over a hundred of them, and they are in a small market,” said Inezian. “Most of the people who read them are the people who post things in them. I was trying to figure out some other way that hadn’t been done,” he said.
“A lot of journals are run by colleges and universities,” said Inezian. “There’s not much of a human face. There’s not much of a network.”
Inezian put a face and a voice to his festival when it premiered in a weekend series last June at Java Jo’s Coffeehouse in Forest Hills. Inezian said he received over 100 submissions from writers across the country and chose 10 stories to be read by the writers in person out loud at the festival.
Winning writers include Ericka Lutz, Perry Glasser and Tim Weed. “I expected it to be small,” said Inezian, “but there were about 40 people there on Saturday and 70 people on Sunday.”
He described fiction at the festival as literary, a type of writing that is character and voice driven. He said literary fiction is not like genre fiction where there is a focused sequence of events, rising action and a plot with twists and turns. “It is more reflective, more about a person’s day, like looking at a still-life painting,” said Inezian.
“The narrator tells the story… It is more about the beauty of the writing and trying to get into the character’s head,” he said.
“Sometimes there is no conclusion,” said Inezian.
James Joyce and “The New Yorker” are two popular examples of literary fiction, according to Inezian.
“It [the festival] works because there is nothing like the feeling of reading something that came out of your heart out loud to a group of people,” said Inezian. “A lot of writing is done by yourself. It’s good to share with other people… and you get paid.”
Last year the prize for a chosen story was $40. This year, Inezian said the prize is climbing fast to $50.
“We have a small budget,” said Inezian. Despite financial constraints, the festival is fighting to grow. This year he created “Hub Online Literary Quarterly,” an on-line journal, which is still on the developing table.
Inezian also publishes the “Boston Fiction Annual Review “to keep his fiction festival company. It includes stories from festival winners.
Inezian is accepting submissions for the 2007 festival but has not yet set a deadline and has not planned a date or venue. Information about submitting, as well as versions of the stories from last year’s festival readers and more information can be found on-line at www.fictionfest.com.
Inezian’s published work includes “Everybody and Their Houses”; “Restraint,” in the spring 2006 edition of the Western Humanities Review; and “Bringing Ararat,” in the spring 2004 edition of the Missouri Review.
“The festival is a good chance to put a face to the writer,” said Inezian. “It’s nice in this world to have a sense of the people in it.”