The dynamic between light and dark is also important in how I edit the texts, in terms of what’s going to follow. I put a lot of weight on getting the balance right. I’ve always been fascinated by a passage from To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, when the artist Lily Briscoe talks about composing her pictures. She says that shadow here needs light there, and she realizes in a sudden insight that she has to put the tree in the painting further to the middle. And that’s been my guideline, really, for how to compose: I have to put the masses in the correct balance, and there has to be a center.
I am excited by writing that functions at once as art and philosophy, and that works carefully and in an unexpected way at the level of the sentence. I am excited by writing that jokes compassionately and writing that I am on the very edge of understanding, that oscillates in and out of clarity, and that can’t be exhausted in a single reading or even multiple readings, and that takes formal chances.
I’m always working on a few projects at once so I never get bored. Lately I’ve been switching between novels and screenwriting. I have a series of Sci-Fi-ish books I’ve been writing for years about a cult in the Ozarks, along with a YA time travel book and a YA novel set in the grunge 90s. I’m also collaborating on a Sci-Fi script based on the Malaysian flight that disappeared and a TV pilot that reimagines Norman Mailer as a P.I. I also just finished a draft of a script set a hundred years in the future about a Trump-like villain as our President. Wait, did I say the future? I meant now.
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.
I remember with great clarity the moment I realized I was a translator. It wasn’t even a realization, exactly; I didn’t think, “Hmm, I’d like to be a translator.” It was more like an irresistible force.
I’m working on two projects. The first stars the only character I’ve ever created vaguely based on me. The protagonist of Enemy Combatant, a braver, stupider, more fucked up version -- crazed by substance abuse and rage against Bush, Cheney et al around 2004 -- runs across evidence of CIA secret prisons in Georgia (the country not the state) and Armenia and with his even more deranged old friend tries to release a prisoner.
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. If you could change one thing about T.V. what would it be? N.A. The lighting. 85% of the lighting on TV shows is awful. It looks like the inside of a Walmart. Part of the problem is that it's just shot so fast there isn't a lot of time to do meticulous lighting. On Hannibal we had a great DP and it looked beautiful.