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 Fiction in Real World

As part of the Inkubator Conference, Literary Cleveland presents Fictional Stories in the Real World, a panel discussion with Meredith Doench, Annie Hogsett, Susan Petrone, D.M. Pulley,  E.F. Schraeder and Abby Vandiver.

When it comes to settings, sometimes real places are inspirational, but should your story take place in a real or imaginary locale? This panel of fiction writers will explore the challenges and perks of writing about real locations. They will discuss the values, risks, and techniques they use to blend and balance research and reality with invention and creativity. Topics considered will include deep dives, distractions, and issues of craft: how to research what you need to know, determine how much is enough, and decide what to invent.



Meredith Doench is a lecturer of writing at the University of Dayton in Ohio. Her fiction and nonfiction has appeared in literary journals such as Hayden's Ferry ReviewWomen's Studies Quarterly, and Gertrude. Her nonfiction essay "South Carolina, 2012" was nominated for a 2019 Pushcart Prize by The Tahoma Literary Review.  She served as a fiction editor at Camera Obscura: Journal of Literature and Photography and is the author of the Luce Hansen lesbian thriller series from Bold Strokes Books. 

Annie Hogsett grew up in a minuscule town in West Virginia. Add to that a couple of degrees in English literature and twenty years in advertising and you get a woman qualified to make stuff up. Annie’s the author of the Somebody’s Bound to Wind Up Dead Mysteries published by Sourcebooks/Poisoned Pen Press. She lives in a seriously feisty neighborhood of the City of Cleveland, ten yards from Lake Erie, with her husband and a delinquent cat named Cujo. Annie has never won a $550 million lottery jackpot. The Devil’s Own Game is third in her series.

Susan Petrone is the author of the The Heebie-Jeebie Girl (2020,) The Super Ladies (2018), Throw Like a Woman (2015), and A Body at Rest (2009), which won a bronze medal for regional fiction from the Independent Publishers Book Awards (IPPY). The Super Ladies was a General Fiction finalist in Foreward Reviews’ 2018 Book of the Year Awards.  She is a recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award for FY 2020. Susan’s short fiction has been published by Glimmer TrainMuseConclaveCleveland Review, and Whiskey Island. Her short story, “Monster Jones Wants to Creep You Out” (Conclave, 2010) was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her non-fiction has appeared in CoolClevelandBelt Magazine, and She is also one of the co-founders and former president of Literary Cleveland.

D.M. Pulley lives in northeast Ohio with her husband, her two children, and a dog named Hobo. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked as a Professional Engineer rehabbing historic structures and conducting forensic investigations of building failures. Pulley's structural survey of a vacant building in Cleveland inspired her debut novel, The Dead Key, the winner of the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Since then, Pulley has sold over a half a million books worldwide, and her work has been translated into eight different languages. Pulley's historical mysteries shine a light into the darker side of life in the Midwest during the twentieth century, when cities like Detroit and Cleveland struggled to survive. Her latest novel, No One’s Home (2019), unravels the disturbing history of an old mansion haunted by family secrets, financial ruin, and murder. The abandoned buildings, haunted houses, and buried past of the Rust Belt continue to inspire her work.

E. F. Schraeder is the author of Ghastly Tales of Gaiety and Greed: Unauthorized and Haunted Cedar Point (Omnium Gatherum, 2020).  The author of two poetry chapbooks and semi-finalist in the 2019 Charlotte Mew Contest, Schraeder also holds an interdisciplinary Ph.D. emphasizing applied ethics. Schraeder’s creative work has appeared in many journals and anthologies including Strange HorizonsMystery Weekly MagazineThe Feminist WirePulp Modern, and others.

Abby L. Vandiver (who also writes as Abby Collette) has penned more than twenty books and short stories. Her new cozy from Penguin Berkley, A Deadly Inside Scoop, is the first in the new Ice Cream Parlor Mystery series set in Chagrin Falls, OH.


The Inkubator Conference is made by possible by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, as well as through support from Cleveland Public Library. 

This event is sponsored by Appletree Books. Learn more at


Details: Fictional Stories in the Real World takes place Saturday July 18 from 7-8:30pm EST remotely online via Zoom video conferencing as part of the Literary Cleveland Inkubator Conference. 
Zoom Info: Register for the workshop and Lit Cleveland will send you an invitation and instructions on how to attend via Zoom. All you need is a good internet connection and a computer or smartphone with a camera and microphone. Not sure if your system is compatible? Just click here


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