Interview: Pam Kirst, winner of the EFC Short Story Contest

We are pleased to have Pam Kirst on the blog today. She is the winner of the first EFC Short Story Contest. We loved her story, “Estate Sale.”

You can read it here.


efcinterviewHow did you come up with “Estate Sale?” A very dear friend’s elderly parents are moving from a huge house to a much smaller apartment, and they are struggling with issues of downsizing.  Witnessing that brought back how challenging it was for my brothers and me when we had to close up our parents’ apartment after my dad’s death.  Maybe writing the story was wish fulfillment—I remember thinking, as I watched people toting items from their apartment, “Boy, I hope you treasure that!” Part of me wanted to do what Mindie did–buy some precious things back.

According to your bio, you are a freelance writer, a middle manager for a college, and a former English department faculty member. Which job is your favorite—freelance writing, teaching, or management? Not to sound like Pollyanna, but I have loved each stage.  Teaching was my passion for over 25 years.  My current position allows me to support instructors and help them grow as teachers; I moved into that role at just the right time in my career. I’ve always freelanced, but sporadically, as a stringer for local papers, as a contributor to the New York State Encyclopedia, collaborating on custom textbooks, doing articles for education magazines, etc.  This year, one of my goals was to develop a writing practice.  I have two blogs . . . a book blog and a kind of creative/reflective blog.  I post every Wednesday and Saturday.  The discipline has been great, I feel like I’m moving forward, and I really love the creativity and challenge.

What types of pieces do you write as a freelancer? As a columnist and contributor to local papers, I wrote mostly personal interest features. I love digging into local history and writing about the fascinating and unique people and facets that give a place its character. I just finished a year as a community member of our local paper’s editorial board; that gave me the opportunity to write op-ed pieces. I love reviewing books.

I am fascinated by creative non-fiction; I love the shape and discipline of a well-structured personal essay.  And I find, as I work on my blog, that fiction keeps pushing forward, too.

What was your favorite class to teach? Why? I really enjoyed teaching English composition—I think a good comp teacher can shape a student’s attitude toward writing in college.  How satisfying is that???

Why do you enjoy reading and writing? I wrote an essay called “Reader Girls” not long ago, about girls who have a passion for reading.  (I suspect that you and your colleagues at EFC all fall snugly into this category.)  I think I was writing to figure out why it is that some girls plunge passionately into books, have to have a book going at all times.  Here’s a line from that essay: But the urge to open that door and plunge into that other world still throbs. That’s what reading and writing are for me: passports into other worlds.

What is your favorite genre to read? I think I’m in a transition time.  I have always loved well-written contemporary novels, but lately I find myself drawn more and more to honest, well-written memoirs.

Who is your favorite author? This is a really, really difficult question, but I would have to say Laura Z. Hobson, who, sadly, is not very well-known anymore, is at the top of my list. She wrote some incredibly brave, ground-breaking work—her Gentlemen’s Agreement attacked the issue of hidden anti-Semitism in the US after WWII. Against all odds, it became a bestseller and was made into an award-wining movie.  I love her autobiographical novel First Papers, too.  She was just a wonderful writer.

In your opinion, what is one book that everyone should read? Ouch.  This is another tough question!  On a very practical level, though, I think Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin’s Your Money or Your Life should be required reading for everyone.  It challenges us to examine our relationship with money. I’ve found that being mindful and intentional about money can change one’s whole trajectory!




Pam KirstPamela Ann Kirst’s route to Zanesville was via a grand family adventure.  Because her husband, Mark Zanghi, had dreamed all of his life of becoming a lawyer, he, Pam, and their sons decided in the early 2000s it was time to make the dream come true.  Mark attended Ohio Northern University Claude W. Pettit School of Law, graduating with his juris doctor degree in 2003.

Mark, Pam, and Jim fell in love with the state of Ohio, and scrapped their original plan to return to western New York.  Mark accepted a job as a public defender in Knox County, Pam began to teach as an adjunct at Muskingum Area Technical College (MATC) and other colleges, and the family settled in.  Pam became a full time instructor as MATC morphed into Zane State College; three years ago, she accepted a position as Coordinator of Adjunct Services there.  In 2012, the family moved to Zanesville.

During the Great Law School Adventure, Pam worked in different roles, but she continued a labor of love she’d begun in western New York: writing for her local paper.  Throughout the ONU years, Pam wrote for the Ada Herald and was a regular columnist for the Lima News. Recently, she completed a year as a community member of Zanesville’s Times-Recorder’s editorial board. She believes in the power of the local paper, and she knows the need for a forum for local news and local thought will never be defunct.

Pam is a graduate of SUNY College at Fredonia, New York, with bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in English Literature, and additional graduate work in education and administration.  She has a stepson, Matthew, who lives with his family in Jamestown, New York.  Her 24-year-old son James is a film aficionado who has Asperger’s Syndrome.

Mark has settled into his position as assistant prosecutor for Licking County, and he, Pam, and Jim, celebrate Zanesville, OH, as their new home town.

Pam has two blogs.  At Shelved, she writes about working her way through all the books waiting on her shelves to be read:

Her creative/reflective blog is at

She is on Twitter at @KirstPam.



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