What motivates me, I think, is a desire to capture something of human experience in language. Fiction works like a mirror that reflects our moral and emotional truths and it's one of the few ways available to us to get a glimpse into someone else's interior life.
How long did it take you to come up with the stories that make up Home Schooling?
It took a long enough time that I often felt impatient with myself. I knew I wanted to grow as a writer; I had some clear objectives in mind. I wanted to get more of a sense of movement and activity in my writing - and plot was always a weakness for me.
I think I managed to learn something about plot. At the same time, I wanted the characters in the stories to connect with each other in a way that was energetic and authentic and touching.
Which would you say was the most difficult story to write? Why is this so?
"Sand and Frost" was difficult because it involved two separate stories, that of the narrator, Lydia, and that of the grandmother, Pauline, and the way in which Pauline's story entered Lydia's mind.
I was intrigued by what a horrific event like the one in the grandmother's past would do to subsequent generations, how it would cast a dark shadow. Lydia is young and yearns to be in a loving relationship, but her attempts to connect with people are undermined by what she knows of her disturbing and violent inheritance. She can see from her grandmother's example that survival is possible, but she has to find her own way to transcend her family history.
Which did you enjoy most?
I enjoyed writing "The Reading Elvis," partly because it's the only story in this collection with a male narrator and getting the voice right was a challenge.
In the story the central character, Graham, is always somewhat off-balance, trying to find his footing but not being very successful, and it was a little like a game to keep this going. The story is also about rebirth, in a way, and I liked seeing in how many different ways this image could be examined in the story as part of Graham's life.