I’m trying to figure out a piece about a father and son on a road trip, set entirely within the car they’re traveling in. It’ll be part of my Honors thesis, tentatively titled Loved Ones, which contains stories that all orbit around the idea of family.
Where did the idea come from and does it fall under a specific genre?
The road trip story was inspired by a drive that I took with my own father when I was younger, as well as an odd piece of cinema called Certified Copy, which follows a day in the life of two people whose relationship to each other gets defined and redefined several times over the course of the film. My Honors thesis as a whole similarly draws on both my own experiences and others’ stories.
What are you currently reading (and why should others be reading it too)?
Two things: a novel entitled Giraffe by J.M. Ledgard, about the covert slaughter of a Czechoslovakian zoo’s forty-nine giraffes in 1975, and Painted Cities by Alexai Galaviz-Budziswesky, which is a collection of short stories about a young boy’s experiences growing up in a Chicago barrio. As far as why people should read them: both are beautifully written, while Giraffe is partially narrated by one of the title animals(!), and Painted Cities makes a location-specific childhood feel immediately identifiable.
What are some upcoming titles in your reading list?
I’ll be diving back into Annie Proulx’s collection Wyoming Stories soon; I read her story “A Lonely Coast” earlier this year, and it was perfect in every way fiction can be, I think. Beyond that, though, I’ve got a long list: Red Earth and Pouring Rain by Vikram Chandra, The Shell Collector by Anthony Doerr, and The Kingdom of this World by Alejo Carpentier.
Who/what inspires your writing?
There are certain books and writers I’ve kind of “absorbed,” as formative not only to my writing, but to me as a person. In terms of writing specifically, though, I always come back to music. Good songs evoke very particular emotional atmospheres–just like literature does–so I use music as both a springboard and a benchmark.
What does your writing process entail?
I’m extraordinarily anxious about writing (but who isn’t?), so I necessarily write in spurts. My first drafts are only useful to the extent that they help me learn what the story I’m writing is not about. Then, after a substantial rewrite, I tend to get something a little closer to what I want. I’ve never felt that a story was “done,” but I count every word I keep as a little victory.
Who would you like to give a shout out to in the writing community and why?
I would like to give a shout out to Shawna Yang Ryan who, besides being relentlessly supportive of me and my work, is a writer and role model of spectacular dedication and talent. Also, to the wonderful staff of Manoa, who have privileged and honored me with so many unique learning experiences.