Developing an “Occult Sensibility” of Your Writing w. KAREN RUSSELL
Karen Russell, whose new story collection, Orange World, is out now. (Buy now from IndieBound.) Karen won the 2012 and the 2018 National Magazine Award for fiction, and her first novel, Swamplandia!, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She has received a MacArthur Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship, the "5 under 35" prize from the National Book Foundation, the NYPL Young Lions Award, the Bard Fiction Prize, and is a former fellow of the Cullman Center and the American Academy in Berlin. She currently holds the Endowed Chair at Texas State University's MFA program, and lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and son.
Discussed In This Episode
“Pinballing around the library” and how what we read as kids inform what we write as adults. Writing surreal fiction in an increasingly surreal reality. Our relationship to nature and “a very dark flavor of hope.” MFAs and coming into your voice (and then sometimes getting sick of it). An “occult sensibility” of how to shape your work. Trying on other voices. Adhering to the internal logic of your story. Figuring out where readers might stumble and then letting them off the hook. Satisfying surprises. “Sound will lead you where you need to go.” Sentence choreography.
Bonus Segment: What Makes a Satisfying Ending
Karen talks about what she wants to achieve with an ending.
Bonus segments are a Patreon exclusive and cost just $2 a month. Join Patreon here.
Some links may be affiliate. Thank you for supporting WMFA.
Thank you to WMFA patrons Megan Brawley, Carrie Brown, Jack Cheng, Madison Cyr, André Gallant, Nicky Gonzalez, Donna Hidock, Katie Karlson, Rachel Gordon Loube, Grace Pickering, Giulia Pink, Trivia NYC, and Erica Veurink for supporting this episode. Become a patron.