Sunday, January 22, 2012

Author Insides - April L. Ford

April L. Ford lives in New York state, where she teaches French at SUNY College at Oneonta.  She's working on a collection of fiction called The Poor Children, that includes "Isabelle's Haunting."  When not writing or teaching, she travels to her native home of Montreal, Quebec in pursuit of authentic French coffee and pastries. Vive les croissants et le café au lait! You can find her online at http://www.cogentwords.com.

"Isabelle's Haunting" appeared in the Autumn 2011 issue of The Battered Suitcase.


When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer, April? 

Not until my early twenties—at least professionally.  Before that, I had used writing as either a private hobby or a tool for good grades in college … perhaps I shouldn’t admit this, but I figured out early on that, in some cases, a grammatically sound paper could steer attention away from content and research deficits.  I no longer engage in this practice, of course!

Why do you write?

I’m not designed to do anything else quite as effectively, I’m afraid.

Is being a writer/poet anything like you imagined it would be?

I didn’t have a fixed idea about how it would be, probably because I came to the reality later than some.  I feel a bolt of despair whenever I read about a successful author—dead or alive—who published his or her first novel at age twenty-one.  What was I doing at that age?  There are days when I fear I’ve “missed the boat” (whatever that really means); that is, I decide I should have been serious about writing from the moment I could use a crayon.  But then I look at how I’m actually living now—as a writer—and I feel validated.  It’s not a glorious existence, but it’s full of little luxuries and freedoms that suit me just fine!

What do you think makes a good story? 

A good writer.

What's your favorite genre to read? 

I love family drama / saga stories, and creative non-fiction about events in US history from about 1890 onward.  I’m generally fascinated by the macabre, and my poor husband and friends have to hear about my obsession du jour until I talk it out of my system and write a something.

Who is your favorite author or poet?

Let’s say the perfect baby would come from Iris Murdoch and Jeffrey Eugenides.

What books or stories have most influenced you the most as a writer?

As an adult: Faulkner and Nabokov have taught me about beauty in prose, and register; Anne Tyler, Kaye Gibbons, and Russell Banks have helped me figure how to tell stories about people—everyday, idiosyncratic people; and Joyce Carol Oates has given me a lesson or two on horror.  As a teenager, before I ever imagined myself as a writer: V.C. Andrews—My Sweet Audrina, in particular.  

What books or stories have most influenced you as a person? 

Numerous from the abovementioned pool of writers.

Where/how do you find the most inspiration?

Definitely not by force.  Whenever I try to will a good story into existence, I generate mechanical, lifeless prose that can’t be rescued even by careful rewrites.  This isn’t to say good ideas, characters, and stories float from the heavens right to my fingertips, but I’m at my best when my psyche is well fueled—a state of being over which I don’t have perfect control, so I’ve learned to manage what I do have control over: The fuel.  I read whatever attracts me, I watch television and film for pleasure, and I converse incessantly about things that interest me.  Perhaps hedonism is the engine for inspiration?

What does your family think of your writing? 

We all have a different opinion of what it is, exactly, that I do.  Fame and fortune, no doubt, would clarify things some.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

I have spent the last decade organizing my life around my writing.  Generally, I wake up at absurd morning hours and write until the other demands of the day (like teaching, and my vanity about personal fitness) begin.

Do you have any writing quirks or rituals? 

I need the command of silence when I begin a new piece, but I prefer the background drum of coffee shops when I edit.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Starting and finishing.

What are your current projects?

A novel.

What are you planning for future projects?

Another novel.  One more novel.  HBO television series (everyone has a dream).  More short stories.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

A break from writing can mean the weekend off, or it can mean a month off.  It can also mean a much longer period, and it’s dangerous to think, “I’m not a writer if I haven’t written in the last year or three.”

Where else can we find your work? 

http://www.cogentwords.com