An Interview with Christine Sneed
Hometown: Libertyville, IL
Current town: Evanston, IL
Suzanne Dottino: What are you working on now?
Christine Sneed: I finished a novel manuscript at the end of the summer and currently I’m only working on short fiction, which is a relief, I have to say. A novel is a marathon, and a short story is more like a 5K.
SD: Care to share a moment, a person or a story from your past that made you want to become a writer?
CS: I was a student in Strasbourg during my junior year of college and I remember reading Marguerite Duras’s novel The Lover, and also seeing the film version a couple of times that spring. I already had some idea that I wanted to write and was making an attempt, but that book, for reasons, I can’t really explain, had an intensely inspiring effect on me. Duras’s voice and her style – something about them made my own aspirations much more urgent. But spending that year in France was also probably the biggest influence - I realized first-hand there was a very large world beyond the Midwest and the D.C. college where I was a student. I wanted to be able to write about it in ways that other people would find interesting.
SD: If you could change one thing about publishing what would it be?
CS: Well, I wish literary fiction were more appealing to publishers and to readers. There aren’t many titles in this genre that do very well sales-wise each year; my publisher has been very supportive, but most writers, myself included, need to have other jobs to pay the bills. I work 7 days a week between the teaching and the writing I do.
SD: Who are your literary heroes?
CS: Alice Munro, Deborah Eisenberg, Edward P. Jones, Mavis Gallant, John Updike, Scott Spencer, Rachel Cusk, W.G. Sebald
SD: What kind of writing excites you?
CS: Books by all of the above – character-driven, deeply sensual, funny, beautifully written.
SD: What advice do you have for writers just starting out?
CS: You have to be able to put your backside in the chair day in and day out, face a lot of uncertainty and self-sabotage (doubts & fears will always be there, no matter how many books you publish). You also have to read books by writers whose minds are greater than your own.