Melinda Moustakis is the author of Bear Down, Bear North, a collection of connected short stories set in rural Alaska.
From her interview with the Kenyon Review:
KR: What internal or external factors have the biggest influence on your creative process?"I loved Bear Down, Bear North," wrote novelist Ed Lin. "It's a collection of connected short stories set in rural Alaska. The people have gone feral and it's up to the animals to maintain order and dignity. The experience of reading the book was like feeling my teeth go crooked and scrape the insides of my mouth until I tasted blood. Fuck all the pretty shit. This is for real."
MM: I know that I learned to write voice and dialogue from listening to my uncle and his fishing buddies tell fishing stories on the river. Fishing and fishing stories taught me how to structure tension, how to have that element of risk and surprise. I also love to sit around a campfire and listen to stories and often I have to hear a voice, a perspective, the rhythm of it, in order for story to take hold. Another influence has been the stories I grew up hearing about Alaska and hunting and fishing and my grandparents’ homestead. Often there is this small diamond of truth I know I want to include in a story and I have to write the coal, wrap the whole story around this diamond in order to make it glimmer. By the end, what I started out with has completely changed and become something else. I often use the process of how one tells a fishing story to explain how I write fiction. You go out on a fishing trip. You catch a decent rainbow trout, maybe 28 inches, and the weather is fine. Every time you retell that story the fish gains a few pounds and inches, one day the trout turns into a king salmon, then a moose appears on the bank, and a bear, and suddenly the story has grown and stretched. The fish stretches, the story stretches. I like to write in that...[read on]