Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Author Insides - Angelica Kiedrowski

Angelica Kiedrowski's short story "Michael Woods" appeared in the Autumn 2010 issue of The Suitcase. She's an expatriate New Yorker living in New Orleans for the past 20 years, where she has written for the Times Picayune as a contributing editorial columnist. While an undergraduate at Queens College, CUNY, she won both the Claire Bibuld Jacobs and John Gassner awards for fiction; her first submission of short fiction was selected for The Georgia Review's special Women and the Arts issue Spring/'Summer 1990. After a nine year hiatus, she began writing fiction again in 2009; "Michael Woods" was chosen as a finalist for the Tennessee Williams short fiction contest for 2009. She is currently at work on a novel.
Angelica, when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I was 12 when I realized that I needed to write and that I might one day actually publish.

Why do you write?
I write because, honestly, it is a compulsion. There is always a kind of running narrative in the back of my mind that nags me; I am constantly parsing the world as I experience it, personalizing it, redefining it through the particular way I hear language.

Is being a writer anything like you imagined it would be?
I've never really thought too deeply about what it would be like to be a writer. I still don't. I write because I need to. Whether or not I actually publish doesn't change that.

What do you think makes a good story?
For me, a good story has the following: beautiful, expressive language; dimensional characters compelling enough to involve the reader; a narrative which is, at once, both emotional and restrained, and at its best, transformational.

What's your favorite genre to read?
I enjoy all genres of writing although literary fiction is my favorite.

Who is your favorite author or poet?
There are so many writers and poets I love and love equally, there isn't the space here to name them.

What books or stories have most influenced you the most as a writer?
Influence is a strange matter in writing. The way I write is intuitive, pre-wired if you will. I am drawn to writers who have a similar relationship with language as I do.

What books or stories have most influenced you as a person?
The Sound and the Fury had a profound influence on me as a person, although I am still not sure why. I think Faulkner caught the full range of human expression in that book--from the tragic to the comic, from the emphatic to the superficial, from the symbolic to the literal. I read that book every Easter. More recently, I've come to love Cormac McCarthy. Although it is not my favorite of his novels, The Road made me want to kiss the ground in supplication. Everyone should read that book and then think twice about the way our habits are hurtling us toward environmental disaster.

Where/how do you find the most inspiration?
Inspiration is everywhere. Life is inspiration enough. The problem, however, is sometimes the writer is inspired but the writing doesn't come.

What does your family think of your writing?
Unfortunately, my family are not readers. They have little confidence in my writing and have always associated it with indolence and irresponsibility. If they see anything of my life mimicked in my fiction, they become suspicious of me and very angry.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
The days I write, I try to get in at least four hours. When the writing comes fluently, I try to write until that fluency stops.

Do you have any writing quirks or rituals?
Outside of drinking a lot of coffee, I have no rituals when I write. I read a little; I walk around a bit; I stare out the window--then it's back to the keyboard.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The most challenging thing about writing for me is having the confidence in my voice. Second to that is forcing myself to do the work. I have the compulsion to write, but actually doing it can be painful, especially on the days it will not come the way it should.

What are your current projects?
I am currently working on a novel, but when a short story intrudes, I stop and attend to it first.

What are you planning for future projects?
I can't think far enough to envision future projects. For me, it's a day at a time.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
My advice to other writers is, if you know within yourself that you have the gift [or curse], then believe in yourself and carry on with the work, in the face of rejection and discouragement. Don't give up. Plan your life around your talent. I would also say that it is never too late to begin a writing life.

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