Christine Schirr’s delightful story proved a formatting challenge, with layers of story unfolding in footnotes and letters.
Tell us how “The Story of Anna Walden” came about.
I was toying with a story about a child bargaining with fate for months before I left on an extended trip to China, but the tale just would not “flow.” Then the night before I departed, unable to sleep with excitement, I turned my attention back to the story. Yes, the story was about Anna, but what if she had a psychologist? Then, what if the story was told by a third narrator? What if the narrator was bombastic and overly dramatic? I kept playing with it until dawn and then abandoned it for ten months until I returned to America. When I got back, I was really startled by what I’d written!
You are an artist and a writer; does one pursuit feed the other?
I would love to say there’s synergy between my writing and art, however it’s exactly the opposite — they’re like two bickering boyfriends vying for my attention in obnoxious ways. Sometimes I just have to ignore them both.
What’s the best book you’ve read lately?
I read a lot of non-fiction these days and lately my attention has turned to the crazy workings of the brain. If you ever are in need of a good scary story when a copy of Shimmer isn’t handy, check the psychology aisle. I’ve loved all of V.S. Ramachandran’s books, but his latest, The Tell-Tale Brain is a masterpiece.
What’s in your iTunes/Spotify/8-track lately?
I’ve put together a Spotify playlist about working hard, making money, and achieving goals. There are some joke songs thrown in, but man, what a great way to self-motivate. “Work” by Iggy Azalea, “F–k Sleep” by Kid Ink, and “T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever)” by Will.i.am — complete with Mick Jagger cameo — are my favorites.
What’s your favorite Ray Bradbury book/story?
As a child, it was rare for our family to go into a real bookstore (for fear of going broke). So when I was 13, it was a real treat to go to Borders and pick out a brand-new book that I didn’t have to return within two weeks. I think I must have taken more than a half-hour to select one, going through every aisle of the fiction section. I chose I Sing the Body Electric & Other Stories by Ray Bradbury, largely for the alluring golden sarcophagus on the cover. Eventually that book fell apart from hard use. I loved every story, but the titular work left the most enduring impression.