Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Vanessa Veselka

Vanessa Veselka's new novel is Zazen.

From her Q & A with Jennifer Tyler at Three Guys One Book:

JT: Zazen is your first novel. Did you know it was a novel when you started to write it?

VV: I started writing Zazen in somewhat of a fury and wrote it as a short story, sent it in to Tin House for consideration, but then kept writing. While I realized within a couple of weeks that it was going to be my first novel, I was a little resistant to that idea. I had another idea in mind and didn’t consider myself ready to write a novel.

I came to fiction very late, at 35 really, and wrote a couple of short stories. The first one got published, which was very encouraging, but I never considered myself a short story writer. And yet I wasn’t a novelist. So what the hell was I? Delusional? But I had this idea of a novel I was always going to write. It was a bildungsroman with an anti-heroine that I thought was my one real story to tell. My first short story, “Il Duce”, was actually an exploration of that idea. So my plan was to practice on a bunch of short stories then work up to the novel.

But Zazen destroyed all my plans. I think novels that want to be written do. Della’s voice took over my world. Sometimes that felt like a samurai sword and sometimes like a meth binge. Novels are a curse, in some ways. You look down three years later and realize your most intimate relationships are imaginary. It’s very disconcerting. Also, the amount of alone time you need comes out of your social bank. At the end, while people will listen to your new song or look at your new poem or painting, in general, nobody wants to read your novel. Leper. Novelist. Wake me when it’s published. I’m kidding somewhat. I was fortunate enough to have some really devoted support around me. Ultimately though, I wrote Zazen because I had no emotionally viable alternative.

JT: Aside from you bringing your life experience into the work (union organizer, paleontology student, expatriate…), how much of Della is you?

VV: Writers tend to range on how they understand this question about self and character. Many say that they...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Vanessa Veselka's blog.

My Book, The Movie: Zazen.

The Page 69 Test: Zazen.

Writers Read: Vanessa Veselka.

--Marshal Zeringue