Friday, November 26, 2010

The Novel Road Interview: Kennedy Foster Excerpt

 Kennedy Foster has led a well traveled life. Her experiences come out in her work:

Me: Life-experience in the writing process: what advice can you give writers on its importance?

Kennedy: Life-experience is the raw clay, but what you make of it is something else. If it isn’t, you’re writing autobiography. Between actual history on the one hand and self-indulgent wish fulfillment on the other lies the territory where readers trust the writer to know the way. So in matters of fact, you’d better be sure, or make sure; otherwise, you look like a schmoo.

But life-experience doesn’t get imported whole into fiction very often, I’m betting; in fact, it’s kind of like a stew, with every spoonful a recombination. My friend the short-story writer M. M. Liberman told me that he once saw a cashmere overcoat left on a seat in the subway, and then later had an encounter with the Argentine Nobelist Jorge Luis Borges. The two things happened six or seven years apart, but they came together in his imagination like puzzle pieces as the crux of his wonderful story “Posala’s Coat.”