Saturday, March 22, 2014

Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay’s writing has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, NOON, The New York Times Book Review, The Rumpus, Salon, The Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy culture blog, and many others including her Tumblr. She is the co-editor of PANK and essays editor for The Rumpus. Gay teaches writing at Eastern Illinois University.

Her new novel is An Untamed State.

From Gay's Q & A with Caroline Leavitt:

I always want to know a novel’s origins. Can you talk a bit about what sparked the novel?

This novel rises from a short story I wrote a few years ago, "Things I Know About Fairy Tales." For whatever reason, that story wouldn't let me alone. I kept thinking, there is more that needs to be told and so I began writing the novel.

What I admired about the novel so much was that it wasn’t just a kidnapping story--it really is a story about race and class and what those divisions do to people. Would you talk about this please?

Kidnapping is, in fact, a symptom of a much greater cultural malaise, where there is not enough to go around. This economic disparity is particularly glaring in a country like Haiti where there is such a small middle class. I wanted to explore, through fiction, what it would be like for people from two ends of the wealth spectrum to clash in such a complicated way that is fueled by desperation and rage.

I also deeply admired the complex, sometimes prickly, characters in the novel. So let’s talk about craft. How do you build your characters? How do you build your novel? What didn’t you know when you started the novel that surprised you in the writing?

I build my characters by inhabiting them. I literally walk around pretending to be that character until I feel like I know the character's every thought and desire and failing. Once I feel like I know a character well enough, I let my imagination run wild and try to imagine how they would respond to a given situation or circumstance.

In terms of building this novel, I was, I admit...[read on]
Visit Roxane Gay's website.

--Marshal Zeringue