Sunday, July 20, 2008

Writers on writers: My interview with Vanessa Gebbie in Eclectica

I was delighted a few months ago when Vanessa asked me if I would do an interview with her for the lit magazine Eclectica. That interview is now published in their July/August issue. It was a wonderful experience, thinking up questions for a good friend and fellow writer with whom I feel a strong writing kinship: I believe we approach writing in a similar way, although our stories (and now her poems and novel!) are very different. Her collection, Words from A Glass Bubble, published by Salt, is a must-have for anyone who loves lyrical and imaginative writing with a punch, stories that leave a lasting impression, for hours, days, and much longer, stories with strong voices and many, many layers. Go and get a copy. That's today's message.

Vanessa and I met through flash fiction, and she opened me up to the whole world of flash with the Blastettes in the literary writers' forum she created, the Fiction Workhouse. I tried to think of questions to ask her that I would want to be asked. A little snippet to whet your appetite.

TH Your first collection has just been published and it has been nominated for the Frank O'Connor Award. Congratulations! Tell me, the title of your collection, "Words from a Glass Bubble," is this symbolic of your writing, and, if you agree, what is the "Glass Bubble" that your words come from?

VG Thanks. It is great to be on the Frank O'Connor list. I have Salt Publishing to thank for that... wonderful people!

I think writing comes from a place that is quite fragile; at least, it does for this writer. It is so easy to be discouraged, easy to lose heart, easy to listen to the voices that say you can't do this properly. But the place writing comes from must be beautiful. It's at the heart of me as a person, and for all its fragility, it is a wonderful thing to be able (occasionally) to tap into that place.

TH A glass bubble is also transparent, everyone can see into it. And it also reminds me of a crystal ball, seeing something other people can't see. Does any of that resonate with you?

VG I think it works both ways. When I write, I am laying bare what makes me tick, the things that really matter to me. How I filter the world. So it's me that becomes totally transparent in the real sense.

But I don't see it as a crystal ball. That's an important distinction if we're continuing these analogies. I'm not crystal gazing, more giving the readers glimpses, magical things, and fleeting, like the snow globes we used to have as kids with their magical scenes, moving, and settling. Although some of the stories have deep sadnesses in them, there is also a lot of humour, and, I'm told, beauty, uplift -perhaps that is the snow?

For more, visit Eclectica. There are also interviews with Jai Clare, author of the short story collection, The Cusp of Something (reviewed on The Short Review), fiction, poetry, humour and satire, commentary, reviews - is there anything this journal doesn't cover?! Enjoy.


Kerry said...

I read this a few days ago - a great and very insightful interview :)

Gay Degani said...

" I also learned about thematic weight, and about accessing what I now call the "glass bubble," for want of a better term!" This quote from Vanessa in your very lyrical interview really hit home. I see it as the "secret" component that most beginning--and unpublished writers--either don't know or underestimate.

Great interview Tania and Vanessa. I need to spend more time hanging around the UK vibe!