Developing an “Occult Sensibility” of Your Writing w. KAREN RUSSELL

Author photo by Dan Hawk.

Author photo by Dan Hawk.

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.

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