“To say that I had more trouble sleeping while writing the novel is an understatement.”
In part 2 of this audio conversation, Shawn Vestal talks about cross-gender writing, becoming a father in relation to his writing life, and reads from the story “Gulls.”
In an audio conversation, Shawn Vestal talks about faith and and its dark side, family and late-life blooming; and he reads from the collection’s imaginative and poignant opening story.
I try to focus on the characters and not the supernatural vs. realistic distinction. That a man would pay money to braid a woman’s hair seems every bit as strange to me as somebody else having (accurate) visions about people dying. There’s so much strangeness in all of us, and sometimes as I’m writing the supernatural elements don’t even feel like the oddest part of my stories.
I thought I would like to write about that world [of apartheid] but not in a handwringing, white liberal guilt way. I told myself quite firmly that this was just a kaleidoscope of small stories. But that I would try to run that concurrently against this darker newsreel background, intensifying apartheid and the madness and cruelty of that system.
The biggest thing I had to learn as a writer is that characters can change—adversaries can come together—but it has to be subtle. It almost has to be sensed by the reader as a possibility. You can write about hope, but not by writing about someone hopeful.
by Terry Hong
I believe that my illness did change me as a writer, because being so closed off from ordinary experiences – everyday social interactions, going outside, eating normal foods – in the hospital made me appreciate them far more keenly. The time I spent home with my children changed me as well. So much of my life previously had been spent in the library or in front of a computer screen. I think these experiences gave me a greater interest in trying to capture the texture and meaning of daily life in my books.