Do most of your stories begin with the first sentence or with an image that you bring to the story?
Most of my stories are inspired by an image, although sometimes that image comes later, as the story is formed. I guess it depends on the length of the story, or the kind of story I’m writing. For me, rarely does a story actually “begin” with the first sentence. “Attic” was inspired by an image, as attic was one of the prompt words. I imagined being in my grandmother’s attic, and what it might contain.
What do you want from a story, when you read and when you write?
I want to feel compassion for the characters. I want to cry with them and laugh with them, and for them. I want to experience their joy and their pain.
You also teach creative writing. What are three things you always tell your students? Do they listen?
Write with heart.
Look at your story from every characters’ perspective. Know your characters. Are you being honest and objective and fair to each character?
I think they listen. I hope so.
What is your favorite, and least favorite, part of the whole writing process?
My favorite part is learning. Learning more about myself and about other people, and trying to understand, learning and trying to be as honest as possible.
My least favorite part is the pain involved in doing that.