We don’t know you personally, Angela, but suspect you are not an elderly Danish man. What made you write a story about a character so different from yourself? Or are there more similarities than meet the eye?
Your suspicions are true! I’m not so much an elderly Danish man as I am the hard-of-hearing, half batty brain of an elderly Asian woman stuck in a 20-something’s body. It was a fun exercise to write through the eyes of this man. Henrich has thoughts that I’d envision an older man, on the verge of a post mid-life crisis, to have. The similarities here come from what everyone in general feels at one point or another—an inability to communicate and connect with people or environments, and as you mentioned—loneliness and isolation. It comes to you at arbitrary, unsuspecting times, like sitting in a diner in a foreign country.
What drove you to start writing fiction?
It’s recently that I’ve been more seriously dabbling in fiction. My past writing was focused on the school essay, introspective/self indulgent journaling or poetry. I gravitate towards creative and artistic processes. For a creative outlet, I’ve spent the past few years playing music in a couple of bands, which I enjoy particularly for the collaboration and camaraderie. Writing, however, quenches a need to do something solo. I enjoy stories, images and ideas…the musicality of words. Also, writing is usually not as loud and disruptive to my roommates as drums or guitars.
Do you have a favorite author? Has he or she influenced your writing?
I don’t really have a favorite author. Lately I’ve been reading some short stories by Raymond Carver, Lydia Davis, Steve Almond and Amy Hempel. I’m pretty much awestruck by them right now. It might be too early in my fiction venture to say what kind of influence their work has had. One thing I know is that all of them have a wonderful knack for capturing humanness. They can take an everyday, seemingly commonplace scene or event and give you such a strong sense that something major has happened. Their intuition and attention toward human interaction and relationships is something I admire.
What’s your favorite word? Your least favorite?
It’s hard to pick favorites! I can say that I have a goofy fondness for picking up slang, which I tend to use ironically, in jest. My current favorite is “broheim” (as in “What’s up, broheim?”) I think it must be a term of endearment used by frat kids. As for dictionary words I like “saboteur.” It sounds sexy and dangerous, though I rarely use it.
Current least favorite word: Bush.
If you could invite one historical figure over for a barbecue, who would it be?
This is trite but true—I would pick Jesus Christ. Jesus has probably had the largest influence on the world of any historical figure. Wars are waged, religions created, states governed and lives have been dedicated in his name. Who wouldn’t be curious about such a being? I’d imagine we’d feast on any food desired, since he’s Jesus and could make delicious baby back ribs out of week old bread. Afterwards we’d drink (wine), play biblical charades, and have one of those few-in-a-lifetime conversations around a big fire pit, barbecue stains and all. I’d ask him to tell me what the deal was about everything as he knew it.