In case you missed it, we published the first of our September Selects winners on Monday: “A Dictionary of How Things Break” by Nora Studholme. Make sure you read this terrific hermit crab before getting to know Nora Studholme a bit better!
Congratulations on winning in our first September Selects series! Do you often work with hermit crabs, or other fixed forms?
I would not say I “often” work in fixed forms, but I try to give myself some set of rules to bounce off of. It is a cliche at this point, but I believe firmly in the jazz theory of creativity—that a little pre-imposed structure can make space for a lot of innovation and play.
What does your writing process look like? We’re always interested in the different approaches to drafting and editing.
My writing always starts with an idea, a little spark, or a seed if you will. I carry that seed around me for days, turning it over, poking at it, reading things adjacent to it. I call this the “marination” phase, where I’m reading and listening and thinking, adding ingredients and letting them stew in there together. For longer pieces, that marination process can last even longer, sometimes weeks. Then I’ll get something – a first green shoot, if you will – be it a first sentence, or a clear scene, or even the voice of a character. At that point, it’s a race to write it all down as fast as I can.
Who are the writers who’ve been on your brain recently?
Recently, I have been loving George Saunders and Neil Gaiman for short stories; for novel length pieces, I have been reading Kazuo Ishuguro and Amor Towles. If I had to find a common thread between these writers, I think it would be the contrast of intensely—sometimes painfully—real characters living in a speculative or somehow surreal world.
What are you working on now? Any exciting projects you can’t put down?
So many—I always have four or five exciting projects on deck that I’m pondering, but the two I’m deepest into are retellings of familiar fantasies (werewolves and fairy tales, without saying too much).