Contributor Spotlight: Marlene Olin

Marlene Olin’s short story, “Pudgy” appeared in our Fall – Winter ’16 issue and can be read here.

Tell us a little about “Pudgy.” 

Elvis impersonators intrigue me. I’ve been to Las Vegas and they flood the streets. Fat Elvis. Skinny Elvis. Old Elvis. Young Elvis.   If you visit the lounge shows, there’s little correlation between what the Elvis imitator looks like and the quality of the performance. Some of these guys are so good that they disappear within the illusion. The illusion is everything.

Why do these performers have a universal appeal?  I think it’s more than the Elvis cult. Whether we’re singers or artists or writers, we’re all tethered to the ground but reaching for the stars.

What was the most difficult part of this story?

I was determined to make Pudgy’s talent a non-issue.  The story had to end before he started singing.  Only the quest was important.

Recommend a book for us which was published within the last decade.

I was blown away by Elizabeth McCracken’s most recent collection:  Thunderstruck and Other Stories.  I find many popular writers a disappointment. They’re more concerned with wordplay than emotions or human interaction. McCracken dissects people with surgical precision. She can be very funny as well.

If you could have a drink with any living author, who would it be?

That guy who plays Jaime Lannister on Game of Thrones. Is he an author?  Just kidding.  I think it would be neat to meet Stephen King.  His stories are edgy and dark but resonate on many levels. The Edgar Allan Poe of our time.

What are you working on now? What’s next?

I recently completed my first novel and am working on a second. I’ve also put together a collection of my short stories. Like Pudgy, I keep plugging away.


Our thanks to Marlene for taking the time to answer a few questions and share her work. Read “Pudgy” here:



Marlene Olin was born in Brooklyn, raised in Miami, and educated at the University of Michigan. Her short stories have been featured or are forthcoming in over sixty publications including The Massachusetts Review, Upstreet Magazine, The Broken Plate, Poetica, Steam Ticket, The Examined Life, and Crack the Spine. She is the winner of the 2015 Rick DeMarinis Short Fiction Award as well as a Best of the Net nominee. Marlene is a Contributing Editor at Arcadia Magazine.