If you could cook dinner for any author, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you make?
Dead: Jane Austen
Alive: Mary Miller
I’d assemble the fixings for a mid-afternoon cookout in one of East Lansing’s parks. The spread would include: Jell-O Supreme, a plate of radishes, sweet and sour pickles, pimento stuffed green olives, celery stalks and deviled eggs sprinkled with paprika.. For the main course I’d make the following: a casserole of scalloped potatoes, coleslaw, and a big ham. All matter of pop would be available including cherry, orange, and lemon-lime. For dessert I’d serve a devil’s food cake with fudge icing, an angel food cake with a topping of thawed strawberries macerated in a cup of sugar, and probably some homemade snickerdoodles. A few hours later, I’d set out some Pillsbury rolls and some rye bread along with mustard. Hopefully there’d be enough ham left for sandwiches; there usually is.
What scares you the most about the writing process? How do you combat your fears?
Fear: Not making the reader see what I see without overblowing the prose. I like minimalism and I tend to be cryptic. I combat the fear that I might exclude the reader if he/she can’t understand the meaning due to a thin explanation or description by imagining each scene over and over again. Through this process I bring more and more detail to the scene until it’s like a movie scene or a painting I love--like Van Gogh’s bedroom. Finally I leave the scene knowing that it has enough in it but not too much. I want the reader to feel his/her space in the book.
Who is your biggest literary crush, author or character?
Jim and Huck or Anne of Green Gables or Mr. Darcy and most of all, Isra in A WOMAN IS NO MAN.
What books are on your nightstand?
THE SONG OF SOLOMON
THE MOST FUN WE EVER HAD
Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?
The midwestern landscape I grew up in and the post WW II era that is championed as full of heros and devoted Americans. PTSD was unrecognized for the most part and the domestic enclave a new and stultifying concept held up as the ultimate in living. I witnessed the guilt and frustration of those who couldn’t or wouldn’t comply with the conformity. Beneath the neat surface I found a world of subversion and as a former performer I am attracted to the idea of pulling back the curtain to find another world hiding in plain sight--that is if you looked..
Favorite punctuation mark? Why?
I love the comma and yet I must curb my enthusiasm for anything that encourages my propensity to think tangentially.
What book were you supposed to read in high school, but never did?
V by Pynchon
What inanimate object would you thank in your acknowledgements?
The ballet barre--ballet saved my life but that’s another story.
Why do you write? The first 5 words that come to mind. Go.
Interiority sustains, slays me too.
If you could write an inspirational quote on the mirrors of aspiring writers, what would you write?
Edit your brains out.
MARY PAULA HUNTER began her career as a choreographer/dancer creating works that fused movement and text. Eventually the writing won out. A transplant to New England, Hunter grew up in East Lansing, Michigan and holds a BA in English and an MFA in dance from the University of Michigan. She lives in Providence, RI with her husband, historian Richard A. Meckel.
Hunter's book Someone Else is available wherever books are sold.