Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Heidi W. Durrow

Heidi W. Durrow has won the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition and the Chapter One Fiction Contest. She has received grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the American Scandinavian Foundation, and the Lois Roth Endowment and a Fellowship for Emerging Writers from the Jerome Foundation. Her writing has been published in Alaska Quarterly Review, the Literary Review, and others.

From Mary Westbook's Q & A with Durrow about The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, her debut novel:f

The point of view revolves between several characters. Did you always envision the story told in this way, with this particular group of characters telling the story?

The book began as a third-person recounting—told from Rachel’s perspective—Rachel all grown-up. The problem was I couldn’t figure out what had happened to her beyond her adolescence. I didn’t have a take on what her perspective would be about the fateful day on the rooftop after having gone to college, for instance, or marrying, or falling in love. I knew that the story of the novel would be her growing consciousness of what that accident meant to her. I realized I needed to tell it from her perspective—first-person present tense. Her character warranted an immediacy. The other characters slowly developed when I realized how unreliable Rachel was. She had to be. She was only slowly coming to understand her place in the world.

Were certain characters easier to access?

I created Laronne to give Nella an advocate. It was imperative that Nella be humanized in the way a friend could. I created Jamie/Brick because I think every tragedy needs a witness. In life, really, when something bad happens, you need to have someone who says, “Yes, a bad thing has happened.” Roger grew out of a similar need—I wanted the father figure to explain his absence. There are so many missing fathers out there; I can’t explain [why they’re gone]. I gave Roger a chance to explain. And Nella had to have a chance to speak for herself. It was important for the reader to...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: The Girl Who Fell from the Sky.

--Marshal Zeringue