“Drawn to dichotomy”: An Interview With Guest Reader Brooke Fossey

by Shasta Grant See all Guest Readers

Berkley is hosting a giveaway of Brooke Fossey’s forthcoming novel. The writer of the story Brooke selects for publication will receive a copy of The Big Finish. But that isn’t your only chance to win a copy! Be sure to enter the Goodreads giveaway, open through November 13th, for a chance to win one of 50 available copies!

Congratulations on your novel, The Big Finish, which is forthcoming on April 14, 2020 from Penguin/Berkley! Can you tell us a little about the novel? And about the process of writing it?

THE BIG FINISH is the story of an eighty-eight-year-old man named Duffy Sinclair who is determined to button up his hard-lived life in peace at Centennial Assisted Living—but it’s disrupted when his roommate’s granddaughter climbs through their window with booze on her breath and a black eye. Before Duffy knows it, he’s running a covert operation to get her clean and back on her feet, risking home, health and harmony. The upside to the chaos: he has a chance to rewrite his legacy.

My grandpa and his assisted living home inspired the characters and setting, and my four kids (who would blow through the facility like little tornados) inspired Josie. Once I wrapped that idea up in all the big-ticket, meaning-of-life questions I have running around in my head, I had a story. This was my fifth manuscript to finish, but the first to get me an agent, so countless rejections preceded it. But, while I was writing THE BIG FINISH, I had a sense that it was the one. It means a lot to me for a lot of reasons—most of all because my grandpa passed away before it was finished—so I’m thrilled to see it finally published.

What does a typical writing day look like for you? 

As for my writing day, it varies. I try my best to get behind the keyboard and stay focused for a few hours every day. Sometimes I produce new words, sometimes I rearrange the ones I already have, and sometimes I fall into the black hole of the internet. To me, being a writer means going through life feeling like you’re forever delinquent on your homework assignment. The only way to get the monkey off your back is to write, so I do the best I can.

Are there certain themes you’re drawn to as a writer and a reader?

I’m really drawn to dichotomy. So many of my stories pair two disparate things together. Obviously, with THE BIG FINISH, it’s young and old. With Duffy and his roommate, it’s a reckless man paired with a more prudent one. In a recent short story, STATE LINE, I told the parallel narratives of an ambitious young American man and his immutable immigrant father. So many things can come from opposites: tension, humor, and strangely enough, accord. I love it.

What kind of story would you love to find in the queue this week?

Honestly, I’d really like a story that deals with a serious subject, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. I think sometimes humor confuses people. They think that a piece automatically lacks depth because it made them laugh. To me, humor adds depth in significant ways. It simultaneously draws the reader out of the doldrums while pointing directly at it, and it’s a tricky thing to pull off. So go ahead. Give me death, give me pain, but somehow leave me smiling at the end of it.

About the Reader:

Brooke Fossey was once an aerospace engineer with a secret clearance before she traded it all in for motherhood and writing. She's a past president and an honorary lifetime member of DFW Writers' Workshop. Her work can be found in numerous publications, including Ruminate Magazine and SmokeLong Quarterly. Her debut novel, THE BIG FINISH, is forthcoming in 2020 from Penguin/Berkley (US), and Piper/Pendo (DE). When she's not writing, you can find her in Dallas, Texas with her husband, four kids, and their dog Rufus. She still occasionally does math.

About the Interviewer:

Shasta Grant is the author of the chapbook Gather Us Up and Bring Us Home (Split Lip Press, 2017). She was the 2016 SmokeLong Quarterly Kathy Fish Fellow and she won the 2015 Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest. Her stories have appeared in Hobart, matchbook, MonkeyBicyclewigleaf, and elsewhere.