Malahat Review volunteer and past work-study student Rose Morris talks with the issue #210 contributor about activating the mind's eye, her cinematic approach to writing, and the interplay of scale in her stories. Read “A forest of houses, a corridor of trees” in our spring issue #210.
RM: Your story moves back and forth from a wide lens (an asteroid in space) to a very focused lens (a walnut). How do you go about controlling the interplay between the very large and the very small?
I might describe it as dream-like movement, where unlikely elements come together, and things shift and morph freely. Some sections in the story form gently, but there are other parts with sharp cuts from one scene to the next.
Sometimes, I rely on physical features to bridge two different things. For example, a walnut has similar characteristics to an asteroid, which makes for a fluid transition.
This is a little tangential to the question, but if you’ll let me continue a little longer... I grew up doing a lot of camping and hiking in British Columbia, and it’s something I miss quite a lot. I’ve been living in the Netherlands and Belgium for sixteen years now, and both countries have no mountains, and most nature is agricultural. I started looking inwards for the wide-open spaces and the grandeur of a mountainous landscape. In Canada, I could regularly experience both feelings of being big and small. Here in Belgium, I live in Ghent, a medieval city. It’s beautiful, but everything is constructed to human proportions. This has created a nostalgia for real wilderness, the immense expanse of space that is little inhabited, and to me, both unknown and unknowable. I’m drawn to the mystery of these places, which is also what draws me to the cosmos. I probe the places I can’t physically go with my imagination, to get close by creating and recreating them. The impossibility of getting anywhere near them reminds me that I’m very small, which isn’t so much a source of frustration, but rather something that leads me towards an acceptance of my place in the universe.
Read the rest of Emi's interview on TMR's website.
Spring Issue Interview with Stephanie Harrington on Creative Nonfiction
Malahat Review volunteer and past fiction board intern Holly Lam talks with the issue #210 contributor about balancing structure with emotional stakes, the feeling of being swept up in a story, and the journalism skills she brings to her creative nonfiction work. Read "Fighter" in our
spring issue #210.
HL: How does your background in journalism influence your creative nonfiction, and what do you bring from one form to the other?
SH: When I started to focus on writing creatively, I veered as far away from journalism as I could get, experimenting with lyric essay and non-linear approaches to storytelling. In truth, I was afraid of not being literary enough. I’ve come to appreciate the skills journalism taught me, namely the ability to write concisely and clearly, and to research well, all of which sound boring but are quite useful skills to have. Writing creative nonfiction has given me the chance to write at length, and in different ways, about issues that interest me. It’s satisfying to explore a subject on a deeper level, and to figure out what you think about a topic, which you don’t get to do as much in traditional journalism when you’re racing from one deadline to the next. I loathed placing myself in narratives at first in CNF, but I’m getting used to it. First-person narratives can be a more honest way of communicating with readers than the “objective” reporter voice. There are degrees to which you can reveal yourself—a narrator doesn’t have to be confessional. I consider myself a guide more than anything else, but I also have to remember that I’m a character in a story.
Read the rest of Stephanie's interview on TMR's website.