A few months ago, I started a feature on the site called CNF Conversations, where I interview other writers of creative nonfiction. (CNF stands for creative nonfiction.) I was looking for a way to do something of substance, to build community, to meet fellow writers, and to learn more about what was happening in the genre.
Writer interviews seemed like a good way to accomplish all that.
I also wondered if writers talking to writers might not yield more interesting and in-depth conversations about the creative process, research, and our understanding of what we do when we sit down to write nonfiction.
I think it has.
So far, I’ve interviewed Susan Olding about her fantastic book of essays called Pathologies. Susan was a great first interview: she answered my long and numerous questions with grace and clarity, and weathered the technical bumps of my first attempt.
Next came conversations with Myrna Kostash and Daiva Markelis. Each exchange sparked new ideas and questions for me about the first-person voice, about truth in nonfiction, about memory and memorialization, and our responsibilities to those we write about.
The process has also taught me that I really like the interview as a form in and of itself. Dynamic and economical is how I think of it.
In a few days I’ll be posting my conversation with Toronto writer Beth Kaplan, whose book Finding the Jewish Shakespeare tells of her archival hunt for traces of her once-famous great-grandfather, the Yiddish playwright Jacob Gordin.
Then comes my conversation with Nancy K. Miller, a giant in the field of feminist (auto)biography, about her new book called What They Saved.
Please come back to read both chats.
If you have published a recent book of creative nonfiction you’d like me to consider for the CNF Conversations, please drop me a line via the Contact page here on the site. Thus far, I’ve only interviewed women, but only by accident. Men are welcome too! (Note the photograph I chose, above, as proof.)
Spread the word, send me your titles, and keep writing.
[Photo: Paolo Margari]