What inspired you to write “Heart of Gold, Heart of Coal”?
My story, and in particular the characters of Midas and Bright Billy, obviously found inspiration in current events.
Why is speculative fiction the tool you use to write about current events?
I love speculative fiction for its reach and its attitude. It extrapolates from our current situation, illuminates tendencies and directions, and imagines alternatives. It can take on big issues and still explore human truths. It often employs humor and irony. My favorites are when a “regular” person gets drawn into some bizarre circumstances, as in Alice in Wonderland.
Well said. And who are some of your favourite writers who capture those things you love about the genre?
In the speculative realm I love all of Angela Carter’s work. I’ve also recently enjoyed books by Carmen Maria Machado, Octavia Butler, Amber Sparks, and Karen Russell among others. I’m in an MFA program (at Sarah Lawrence College) that has a Speculative Fiction concentration, and the teachers and students in that genre are doing inventive work. In any fiction, I love writers who are keen observers of people and of the human condition; writers who help me understand not only what but why, especially those who can leaven our worst impulses with compassion. Some of my favorites are Lore Segal, Joan Silber, Alice Munro, Denis Johnson, and Carol Shields.
Two recent favorite reads include Matthew Sharpe’s Jamestown, for its ability to evoke past, present, and future with horror and humor, and Victoria Redel’s Before Everything, which is a combination of devastating and life affirming.
You spoke about past and present earlier. If you could offer one piece of advice to your past self, what would it be?
Don’t wait until you have a degree or official piece of paper or someone else’s permission to start doing what you want to do. Equally, take every opportunity to read, hear, and learn about your passion by exploring the works of others.
And for the present, what writing projects are you working on now?
I’m working on a novel that re-tells a well-known fairy tale from a new perspective, some short stories, and a poetry manuscript.
We can’t wait to read them!