At the Rumpus, Jo Hamya shares the writing process behind her debut novel, Three Rooms, and how she reluctantly deals with reader assumptions about her narrator as a stand-in for herself. “A lot of people think it’s autofiction, and that I’m the narrator,” Hamya says. “The hardest thing about writing the book was that at regular intervals I’d stop and be like, what if people think this is me? […] As I was writing, I kept thinking about how I don’t like this narrator at all. I understand why people feel sympathy for her, but she’s not my idea of a great person—she’s necessarily ineffectual and vague, because otherwise the book would wrap up neatly with her getting her life together. She’s a composite of the worst tweets I could find, and as I was putting her into various situations or environments that I’d been in my life, and having her act differently, I kept thinking how it would be awful if someone thought this was me, but it does seem to be happening [laughs]. I suppose that’s unavoidable. You can’t control what your readers think. I’ll just have to deal with it.”
At Tank Magazine, Alexandra Kleeman discusses her second novel, Something New Under the Sun, with Guy Mackinnon-Little, and how shifting between different projects allows her creativity to flow freely. “I’ve learned that my writing thrives in spaces where I can use interruption strategically to move about within the mental space of writing without entirely leaving it,” Kleeman says, “mostly by moving between projects, which allows me to take a breath from one line of thought that has been wrung out in order to focus in on another, unexhausted space.”
At Soft Punk Mag, a previously unreleased interview with the late Anthony Veasna So examines his path toward becoming a writer and how his reading list has always been all-encompassing. “People like to say that the best advice they can give to writers is to read a lot,” So says. “And that’s true, of course. But you shouldn’t just read literature. You should read life. Read movies, and art, and people. Read everything around you, very critically. Then build your method out of that process.”
At Good Times, Christina Waters examines the rise in poetry’s popularity during the pandemic, and how the art form has famously flourished during other times of crisis throughout history. “It’s an open medium,” says poet Danusha Lameris, “more and more voices are being heard. The Amanda Gorman effect, especially here. It’s an exciting moment for poetry. Fragmentation increases richness; conflict breeds creativity. American poetry right now is exciting.”
Image credit: Joy Holland
At the Paris Review, Kendra Allen shares the inspiration behind her new poetry collection, The Collection Plate, including her obsession with closely reading music lyrics. “I literally would not be writing anything if I was not obsessed with reading lyrics. I think that’s what sparked my interest in creative writing. So many of my greatest memories are me in the car listening to a specific song or me buying a CD and just replaying it over and over and over. […] Music has sustained me with something to write about. I can always find a line in any song and make a prompt out of it and apply it to my own life.
At Vol 1 Brooklyn, Hermione Hoby discusses her new novel, Virtue, and why she chooses to focus on characters rather than themes in her writing process. “What I love about novels is the way in which a web of refracted perceptions constitute meaning,” Hoby says. “Novels are vehicles for ideas, but I think they must also deliver pleasure and beauty. The way they do this is through character. In other words, the only way these things you mention are elements of the novel is through the novel’s characters. (I greatly admire DeLillo and co, but I have not written a systems novel!)”
For BOMB Magazine, Pik-Shuen Fung discusses her debut novel, Ghost Forest, with Kyle Lucia Wu and explains how seemingly disparate emotions play a big role in her fiction. “I think juxtaposition affects every aspect of my creative process,” Fung says. “It wasn’t a conscious decision to include these disparate emotions, but I think that I’m always interested in the complexity of an experience, and the multiplicity of an experience. I don’t feel like I ever just feel one emotion at one time.”
At the Paris Review, Anuk Arudpragasam discusses his novel, A Passage North, and how he relates to the reading habits of his main character, Krishan. “I think a lot through texts,” he says. “I often refer to a line or a passage or a moment as a way to explain to somebody how I’m feeling or to refer to something I want to communicate. These moments expand my memory of life. They’re like faint memories that I can always use to compare to my present experience.”
For the New York Times, Katie Kitamura discusses her latest novel, Intimacies, with Brandon Yu and how its story embraces uncertainty as a constant in our lives. “There’s a real cognitive dissonance as a person in the world,” Kitamura says. “Your consciousness can only accommodate so much, and certainly it’s been incredible to me how I can simultaneously be very worried about the state of democracy and also thinking, has the turkey gone off?”
Where can you find a bull, badger, and fox in a graveyard? Word fiends will know. During the pandemic, librarian Alex Thurman discovered Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery and its fascinating grave marker inscriptions that happened to be common English words. Before he knew it, his lockdown interest resulted in the creation of Green-Wood Glossary: A Wording Expedition, a photography project that captured his unique finds. Join Alex this evening, along with Green-Wood Historian Jeff Richman, for a quirky look at the cemetery’s monuments and permanent residents.
Image credit: Green-wood Glossary