If you could cook dinner for any author, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you make?
I’d love to cook for Flannery O’Connor, though would worry about her dry comments regarding my lack of skill. Cornbread, sweet potatoes and chicken. Coconut cream pie, my Grandma Rose’s recipe.
What scares you the most about the writing process? How do you combat your fears?
The fear of time. Nothing about my writing process is linear or structured, so it takes great amounts of time to complete a story or project. The only way to combat this fear is to accept it and to keep writing.
Who is your biggest literary crush, author or character?
What books are on your nightstand?
Blue Nights by Joan Didion; Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout; Love Poems by Pablo Neruda; The Little Virtues by Natalia Ginzburg
Favorite punctuation mark? Why?
The question mark; literature and stories should ask us questions about ourselves and lives.
What book were you supposed to read in high school, but never did?
Ha! I don’t remember. If it was assigned, I most likely read it. Was one of those students.
What inanimate object would you thank in your acknowledgements?
My many little notebooks that I kept with me with jotted down observations, odd thoughts, and some of my children’s notes and drawings when they were younger.
If you could write an inspirational quote on the mirrors of aspiring writers, what would you write?
I write to discover what I know.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Mostly it exhausts me.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I believe the most common one is the grand one that also trapped me - wanting to publish before your work is ready.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
When I allow the outside world’s opinion of what life should look like to come before my own.
Have you ever gotten writer’s block?
I’m not sure if it’s writer’s block or writer’s doubt, but I’ve certainly had those moments. My remedy is to get something on the page, even if it’s a few sentences or thoughts, or to work on edits.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I met Kelly Simmons, author of Wives of Billie’s Mountain and a number of short stories, at Queens University of Charlotte when we were earning our MFA’s. Kelly’s insight and tireless eye have been a constant part of my writing process. Kelly’s continuous support was crucial to the publication of this novella, and she’s a kick-ass kind of friend.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
My first writing class. It was a general fiction class, an eight week course, a couple hundred dollars.
What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
W.G. Sebald and Richard Yates.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
When I was young, we’d go to my father’s softball games (he was on three teams). I had been playing with a black kid around my age and I remember an adult, not sure who he was, telling me I shouldn’t be playing with him. This adult was trying to use language to influence a child. But that didn’t make sense to me and I kept on playing. We don’t have to let other people’s language have power over us.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
The Third Man by Graham Greene
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
A bird, one that soars high and can see the view from far above, capturing the full picture.
What does literary success look like to you?
Readers taking something of emotional value from what I have written.
What’s the best way to market your books?
In a perfect world hire a publicist!
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Many authors write authentically and beautifully about characters of their opposite sex. I find most everything about it quite difficult.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
I’d be a dress designer or a therapist.
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