Author Interview: Tsipi Keller
If you could cook dinner for any author, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you make?
Tough choice… Let’s assume it’s a dinner party, and seated at the table are Virginia Woolf, Flannery O’Connor, Elizabeth Bishop, and Elfriede Jelinek. Let’s also assume they like vegetables, since I’ll be serving my specialty, a casserole of onion, broccoli, squash, white cabbage, chickpeas, rice, barely, shredded coconut, dried mango, dried plums, middle-eastern spices, grated ginger--delicious!
What scares you the most about the writing process? How do you combat your fears?
The fear I share with most writers is the fear of not being good enough, or not going deep enough, and the only way to combat such fears is going over the manuscript and revising, not once, not twice, but as many times as it takes. Faulkner, one of my most favorite authors, revised and rewrote The Sound and the Fury fifteen times.
Who is your biggest literary crush, author or character?
What books are on your nightstand?
Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset, translated by Tiina Nunnally
God on the Rocks by Jane Gardam
Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston
Oroonoko by Aphra Behn
Yosef Haim Brenner—a Life by Anita Shapira
Anatole France Himself--a Boswellian Record by His Secretary Jean Jacques Brousson translated by John Pollock
Esau & Jacob by Machado de Assis, translated by Helen Caldwell
Diary of an Unknown by Jean Cocteau, translated by Jesse Browner
Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?
I don’t actually like the word “inspiration”; same with “muse”--another term I don’t find helpful. Concentration is the word that works for me. When you sit and concentrate, ideas come. An incidental image or phrase, or something that nags at you, may trigger something in your brain and get you going.
Favorite punctuation mark? Why?
The comma. Used properly, it allows you to go on and on...
What book were you supposed to read in high school, but never did?
I was raised in Tel Aviv, and the books we were assigned were all Hebrew authors, and I read them… In English class we were assigned Macbeth, and I loved the teacher (a small British woman in her sixties with beautiful gray braids) who obviously loved teaching, loved Shakespeare and made Macbeth fun and accessible, especially so when we read the play in class, playing all the parts.
What inanimate object would you thank in your acknowledgements?
Why do you write? The first 5 words that come to mind. Go.
Writing engages my brain.
If you could write an inspirational quote on the mirrors of aspiring writers, what would you write?
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