Saturday, June 12, 2010

Laura van den Berg

Laura van den Berg's fiction has or will soon appear in One Story, Boston Review, Epoch, The Literary Review, American Short Fiction, StoryQuarterly, Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008, Best New American Voices 2010, and The Pushcart Prize XXIV: Best of the Small Presses, among other publications. The winner of the Dzanc Prize, Laura's first collection of stories, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, was published by Dzanc Books in October 2009 and was a Holiday Pick for the Barnes & Noble "Discover Great New Writers" Program.

From her Q & A with Fringe Magazine:

What is your favorite story in the collection and why?

“Where We Must Be” is up there, because it was one of the first stories I wrote that blended the “real” and the fantastic, so it represented a kind of step forward. I’d also wanted to write something that somehow incorporated Bigfoot for ages, so that was a plus as well.

At what point in your writing process did it become clear you had a cohesive collection, and what do you think links these stories into an aesthetic collection?

I had probably drafted three or four stories before I started to wonder if a book was in the works. But I don’t think I ever really felt certain that it was a collection until I’d finished the first full draft and worked on it for a while. In terms of connecting factors, all the stories are narrated by women and landscape plays a fairly significant role. In addition, the stories all, to varying degrees, incorporate some kind of “mythic” element—for example, a failed actress takes a job as a Bigfoot impersonator in “Where We Must Be,” a botanist seeking a rare flower crosses paths with a group of men hunting the Loch Ness Monster in “Inverness,” a missionary in Africa becomes obsessed with a creature rumored to live in the forests of the Congo in “The Rain Season,” and so on. Obsession is a connecting factor too. My characters have a tendency to get[ on]
Writers Read: Laura van den Berg.

--Marshal Zeringue