Thursday, June 24, 2010

Aimee Bender Interview (with Charles Tan)

Aimee Bender

Hi! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. You've written both novels and short stories, but what is it about the short story format that appeals to you? Which do you prefer more?

I feel a little more comfortable with stories-- I like to race along and then be done. So writing a novel takes a lot of patience for me, but then when finished, I do feel different-- it's like a shirt that has stretched bigger and won't shrink back right away. it's harder for me to remember how to write a two page story. The pace of development is so different.

One of your strengths in "Faces" is dialogue. How do you develop your ear for character voices? Do you find it easy or difficult?

I like it when it just happens-- I can't really force a voice, but I could hear William pretty well. I think eavesdropping is a writer's great tool here. I will assign students to go eavesdrop which is a fun assignment to give. It seems rude, but it really is necessary, and I think a lot of us do it without even realizing. Cell phones are a good new frontier here-- with people talking so unself-consciously in lines and on trains.

What made you decide to use William's problem as the focus of the story?

I'd written that scene as part of a larger book that never coalesced. And this scene was a way into his daily life that felt more like a self-contained story than part of a novel. I just wondered about him: what was he seeing/why and how was he both perceptive and kind of out of it at the same time?

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