Interview with Shae Krispinsky
- What was your early life like? Where did you grow up?
Early life was Western Pennsylvania, catching fireflies and climbing trees, collecting New Kids on the Block cards and singing songs to myself in the summers, and in the winters sledding and creating intricate lives worthy of any soap opera for my Barbie dolls.
- What made you want to write?
My mother still has picture books I created when I was four, five, but my first text-based story came from reading a book in first grade. It was about two friends who had a fight. I didn’t like how it ended, so I dictated a new story, with the resolution I wanted, to my mom, and then took it into class the next day and read it to everyone. No one cared, but for me it was powerful, god-like. I get to create lives and alternate realities and mete out my idea of justice? Yes, please.
- What are your writing habits like? Are you always working on a story or poem?
I’m slowly working toward more consistency. For a while I worked under the idea that if I didn’t write a page a day, I didn’t get to refer to myself as a writer, but that’s too uncharitable to sustain. There’s so much more that goes into writing than writing, and sometimes, if I’m stuck on a scene or a verse, the best thing to do is step away for a bit, take a walk, take a shower. It’s all part of the process, but the process is all-encompassing. I always have something brewing somewhere. It’s not the working-on that’s the issue, really; it’s the finishing.
- Can you discuss your literary influences, or at least name some writers whose work you greatly admire?
Hearing, and really listening to, and reading Bob Dylan’s music and lyrics kicked open a door for me, for my own music, and poetry, but for my prose as well. A basic writing tenet is Show, don’t tell, and no one conjures a better image than Dylan. Sometimes that’s all he gives you, the mattress balancing on a wine bottle, the jewels and binoculars hanging from a mule, and because you can see it, you can feel it, even if you may not know what it “means.” Then there’s Anne Carson, who wrote, “You can…never use the infinitives and participles oddly enough,” and that sums up her work to me. I see her at her desk, taking to language with a wrench. She’s stretching and twisting and pulling. It’s the most beautiful torture. How can we make this word bleed? How can we make this image morph? How can we make meaning cry out in anguish and ecstasy?
- How important is community amongst fellow writers, do you get along with other writers?
I’m not the most social person in general, and I rarely seek out a writing community, but whenever I happen to stumble across/into one, I leave feeling inspired and rejuvenated. Talking about writing is much easier than writing, and passion is infectious.
- If you haven’t already, do you think you will ever write a novel?
I have two in the drawer that won’t ever see the light of day, and one on the desk, currently getting toward the end of an intense revision. I’m at the I’m afraid of having other people read this, so I’ll spend three days obsessing over whether to leave this comma in or take it out stage.
- Do you feel a sense of home? Is there a place like that to you?
I grew up in Western PA, then lived in Brooklyn for my first year of college, but it wasn’t until I transferred to a university in Roanoke, VA that I felt home. I’m currently in Tampa, FL, and I love it here, I feel so fortunate to live here, but I long to get back to Roanoke. I’ve spent many a work-hour on Google Maps Street View clicking my way down my old neighborhood there, fraught with and seeping nostalgia.
- Do you have any writing rituals or superstitions, before you start to write?
Thought is made in the pen; I write everything out longhand first. It’s harder for me to get in there with a story if I’m typing on a computer. During my revising sessions with the current novel, I’ve taken to lighting a candle to signify it’s writing time. Also, wearing earplugs helps block out any errant thoughts.
- Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both! When things are flowing, there’s no better fuel. Hours slip by. Flow, though, is relatively rare. More often, writing (and particularly revising) is being forced to break through a brick wall with a ball-peen hammer.
- Are you a science fiction fan? If so what attracts you to the genre?
Not particularly. Reality is incomprehensible and strange enough for me.
- Do you think literature can help readers make sense of their lives?
If it doesn’t help make sense of our lives, it at the very least acts as a dinghy getting us through turbulent waters.
- How autobiographical are your stories/poems.
More than I initially think when writing. The subconscious is a powerful force. Even when the stories and poems aren’t about me, they’re still about me, which has gotten thrown back in my face on more than one occasion.
- I would be remiss if I did not ask. What is your favourite films and TV shows?
I’m currently watching Game of Thrones. I resisted for so long, but then caved, and have watched the first six seasons in less than a month. I’ve been dreaming about acquiring ships and wearing cloaks. It’s interesting to see which characters show up in my dreams–it’s not who I’d expect, so I wonder what that’s saying. I’m ready to get my life back! My favorite films are all over the place, from Roman Holiday to La Strada to Singin’ in the Rain to Reservoir Dogs. I’m not much of a “movie person,” so I tend to watch what I like over and over and over.
- Are you political? What do you think of the current political climate?
It’s really scary and difficult to fathom.
- How do hope your stories/poems will affect people?
I hope they make people feel less lonely and less alone.
Shae Krispinsky lives in Tampa, FL, where she sings and plays guitar in the band, Navin Ave. (https://navinave.bandcamp.com/), fronts the cat-rap purrformance art project, Purr Purr Purr, and explores the Sunshine State as founder and facilitator of the Adventures for the Adventureless group. She is currently working on a novel.