Interview with Terese Svoboda

Hometown: Ogallala Nebraska

Current town: NYC/Greenport NY

Suszanne Dottino: What are you working on now?

Terese Svoboda: A novel about harpies and one about Irish immigration, a rewrite of Our Town for Selfie Theater, a new manuscript of poetry called Safari with ecological concerns, and a short story about a cougar I almost ran over.

S.D. What books are by your bedside?

T.S. Truthfully? I'm at the James Merrill House and the books here are overwhelming. However, I do have Caroline Knox's He Paves the Road with Iron Bars, poems quirky and erudite and fun, and Thomas Farber's Here and Gone, a series of essays ending on an earthquake and open heart surgery, mordant and fine. I just sent The Quick and the Dead, an amazing novel by Joy Williams back to the library, and beside me is the beautifully written first chapter of Margaret Drabble's The Waterfall where she gives birth a week after her husband leaves her. Nobody ever asks what I have in the bathroom.

S.D. Was there a moment, a person or a story from your past that made you want to become a writer? Can you tell it? My uncle published a book of poetry as a professor of English so I knew humans could do it.

S.D. If you could change one thing about publishing what would it be?

T.S. The narrow-mindedness of what makes up a story for most publishers. In addition, and even more importantly, writers should not write for money but publishers should definitely pay them.

S.D. Who are your literary heroes?

T.S. Marguerite Duras, Lola Ridge, Italo Calvino, Paul Celan, Antoine Volodine, Marie NDiaye

S.D. What kind of writing excites you?

T.S. Writing that seeks to remake literature?

S.D. What advice do you have for writers just starting out?

T.S. Speak, memory. Everything you will write about is already coiled in your head. Don't let anybody ever say you can't do it. On the other hand, don't let anybody tell you it isn't a lot of work work work.