Aimee Bender is the author of The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, An Invisible Sign of My Own, and Willful Creatures. Her short fiction has been published in Granta, GQ, Harper's, Tin House, McSweeney's, The Paris Review, and elsewhere, and she has received two Pushcart prizes. She also teaches creative writing at USC.
Dave Weich interviewed her in 2005 for Powells.com. One exchange from their dialogue:
Dave: How has living in Los Angeles shaped your writing? You're not working in any kind of local tradition such as noir. And you're not writing stories or novels that would be readily adaptable as screenplays. You're also not writing stories set on Venice Beach; it's not that either. But I feel like there is a sensibility, something native to southern California?
Bender: It's hard to tell what part of the place is in me because I'm from there, but my current thought is this: People think L.A. is a very social city because of the wheeling and dealing, people making movies; everyone's so friendly — nuts but still smiley. They're not grim, toughened New Yorkers. And I think part of the reason that's true is because it can be very introverted in L.A.; you spend so much time in your car, often by yourself, that there's a lot of down-time. There's a lot of daydreaming space in L.A., and in that way I think that does help my work.
People on the subway in New York, you know how they don't look at each other? I think it's because they need a break from people — and they don't have a car. So you need to create your own little bubble. In L.A., you can be friendly all the time because you keep going back to your protective bubble. It takes a half-hour to get anywhere. How many half-hours in a day do I have? I have plenty of them, going from place to place. It's not like I'm doing my writing in that time, but it gives me that space-out time. It's protected.
Read the full interview.
The Page 99 Test: Willful Creatures.