interviews

August 22, 2015

Everyone is influenced by their surroundings, their family, their time, their culture. Then again, writing is very personal and has an element which is about standing aside from your time and place and speaking to the human condition and going for something a little more universal… so I’ve found soul brothers in far away places, living and dead.
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August 18, 2015

I write from a place of curiosity and confusion, to ask questions and go searching for something via narratives and new worlds that I’m very aware I may never find. My ambition is to keep that feeling.

August 13, 2015

There is so much to be gained from wrestling with foreign words and sentence structure, and discovering the cultural concepts behind the words. Even the attempt is important, especially now when so much in our culture says words dont matter, hurry up, just put something down.

Photo credit: Alan Caras

August 13, 2015

In the end, though, I’m not sure presenting the facts is the most important work that fiction can do; in a lot of ways I think a novelist’s job is to give the reader the capacity to empathize with people whose experiences are vastly different from his/her own—and those feelings are a kind of experiential truth that you wouldn’t get from a newspaper article or history text.

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June 18, 2015

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Stephen O’Connor is a writer of fiction and nonfiction, the author of four books, a professor of creative writing at Columbia University and Sarah Lawrence College, and a husband and father. His short stories “Con” and “Double Life” appear in Issues 07 and 03 respectively of The Common. His new novel, Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings, is forthcoming from Viking-Penguin. Melody Nixon talked with OConnor this month while she was in Norway and he in London. They both endured the rainiest of European springs and the crackling of Skype to talk dreams, the unconscious, and the right/ability of white writers to write across identity lines.

May 5, 2015

A.L. Kennedy was born in Dundee, Scotland. She is the author of 15 books: six novels, six short story collections, and three works of nonfiction. She is a fellow of both the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Society of Literature. She writes for publications in the UK and overseas and has a blog with The Guardian Online. In addition to author, she is a dramatist for the stage, radio, TV, and film, and a standup comedian. Her new book All The Rage—a collection of short stories—was published by Little A Books in spring 2014. Marni Berger and A.L. spoke about the culture of humor, constructing the landscapes of characters’ minds, and what it means to “write to please.”

April 7, 2015

James Hannaham is a writer of fiction and nonfiction, an MFA teacher, and the author of the novel God Says No, which was a finalist for a Lambda Book Award and a semifinalist for a VCU First Novelist Award. Hannaham’s work interweaves social critique and strong characterization with robust plot, and he was recently praised by The New York Times for the way he makes the commonplace spring to life with nothing more than astute observation and precise language.” Melody Nixon met with Hannaham in downtown Manhattan the day before his latest novel, Delicious Foods, was released from Little, Brown and Company. They discussed place, politics, and racism as a curse.

March 3, 2015

Brian Sholis is Associate Curator of Photography at the Cincinnati Art Museum. He writes about photography, landscapes, and American history, all of which topics are combined in his essay “Our Poor Perishable World, appearing in Issue 08 of The Common. In this chat with Oregonian S. Tremaine Nelson, Sholis touches on the American West, beauty and destruction, and the similarities between fiction and photography.

February 3, 2015

Jonathan Moody is a poet and professor. His first full-length collection, The Doomy Poems, deals with time and place through persona poems, and is described by Terrance Hayes as having an “innovative funkiness that transcends the ruckus and heartache of our modern world.” Moody’s second poetry collection, Olympic Butter Gold, won the 2014 Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize and will be published in summer this year. His poem “Dear 2Pac” appears in Issue 08 of The Common, and his “Portrait of Hermes as a B-Boy,” “Kleosphobia,” and “Paranoid,” have all been featured at The Common Online. Melody Nixon caught up with Moody this winter, and between New Zealand and Texas they talked poetry activism, politics, Houston skyscrapers, and the cosmopolitan radiance of Downtown Pittsburgh.

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January 8, 2015

Diane Cook’s debut short-story collection Man V. Nature was recently published by HarperCollins. The New York Times called it a book of “great beauty and strangeness.” Cook is a former producer on NPR’s “This American Life” and a graduate of the Graduate Writing Program at Columbia University. She currently lives in Oakland, California where she is at work on a novel. S. Tremaine Nelson talked with Cook about writing “unnerving stories, her least favorite author, and the many perks of novel writing.

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