I'm a failed poet. Reading poetry helps me to see the world differently, and I try to infuse my prose with figurative language, which goes against the trend in fiction.
That's why I write fiction, because I want to write these stories that people will read and find universal.
I wrote the first draft of my first novel at Michigan, and then I wrote the first draft of 'Salvage the Bones' at Stanford. So I workshopped the entire thing.
I wanted to write about the experiences of the poor and the black and the rural people of the South.
I feel like the kind of people I write about are the kind of people I grew up with, the families that I know in my community. Most everyone is working-class, and there are some intact families, but a lot of families aren't.
My mom worked as a housekeeper, and I saw her relationship with her employers - how on the one hand she spent more time with these women than with a lot of her friends, and how in certain ways they were friends. But then they weren't.
While I've said that there are plenty of things I dislike about the South, I can be clear that there are things I love about the South.
When I look back on my reading habits when I was really young, I was really drawn to stories about strong girls who in some ways are outsiders.
It infuriates me that the work of white American writers can be universal and lay claim to classic texts, while black and female authors are ghetto-ized as 'other.'
Hip-hop, which is my generation's blues, is important to the characters that I write about. They use hip-hop to understand the world through language.
I read the last Harry Potter, and I cried for at least the last 70 pages. Awful! I was curled into a ball and I just kept sobbing. It was embarrassing. I was loud, and I just kept wiping tears away so I could see the page.
My father owned pit bulls when I was young. He sometimes fought them. My brother and a lot of the men in my community owned pit bulls as well: sometimes they fought them for honor, never for money.
When I read 'Absalom, Absalom!,' I remember being really excited about it and telling all my friends they had to read it, especially my writer friends.
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