Your recent essay in The Atlantic, I Used to Be an Anti-Vaxer, got a lot of great attention. What was your experience like to write and publish such a piece with so many strong opinions around that issue?

It was terrifying to write because I'm ashamed that I was ever an anti-vaxer, and that essay was, in part, an up-close & personal analysis of that shame. I also figured I'd get attacked no matter what I said, given how strongly everyone feels about vaccination, and a few comments & emails were pretty nasty. But the vitriol wasn't too bad, I'm happy with how the essay turned out, and am thrilled that lots of people liked and shared it. 

You won the 2012 Short Short Fiction contest for Esquire with your story "Avenue B." What's been your overall experience with submitting to contests and competitions versus submitting work to publications directly?

I've had much more luck submitting work directly to publications. I loved winning the Esquire contest though: It was free to enter, scored me an invitation to a fantastic party, and helped me out career-wise. And the Esquire staff, in addition to being a bunch of fun people, has excellent taste in whiskey. 

What can people expect from your reading?

Guns, arson, and a bunch of guys who just won the lottery.