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I remember when I was making notes for these characters very early on. I wrote down something for Laughlin. I wrote 'Date of birth: November 2, 1931.' Now I was born November 2, 1951, so I sort of knew something was up. It just came out of my pen. 'This, on some level, is going to be about what my life would have been like if I had been born 20 years earlier.' Though Iím not as sweet as he is. Nobody really is. If they are, God help them.
Iím not traveling, just making do with Vicarious Europe. One friend writes from Poland (a linguistics conference), another from Uganda (chimpanzee research), another from Kenya (early child development research). Iím jealous, but what I wish for myself is a trip of the unproductive-in-the-extreme variety.
Barbara J. King
You-Know-Who and the Deathly Hallows is inescapable -- its buttercup-yellow jacket and cinderblock dimensions clearly visible through bus windows, on bar tables, and propped up next to giant bowls of pho in Vietnamese restaurants. When one isn't (barely) resisting the temptation to fling open doors, yell "Climactic battle! Robots vs. underwater unicorns!" or "Voldemort! Hagrid! En flagrante! Hot oil massage!" and then tear off down the street, one thinks dolefully of days to come, when (once again) dragons are passť, and anything with wands or magical companion animals is tucked securely between the pages of Swann's Way when venturing out among strangers.
"At heart Iím a realist: I believe thereís one universe for all of us, and if it often seems otherwise, itís because weíre all working from incomplete information. This doesnít stop me from embracing outrageous fantasy scenarios, but I like my outrageous fantasy to have rules, and Iím a stickler for logical coherence -- I think itís fine if a story leaves you guessing whatís true and whatís false, but I need to believe that an answer is possible."
Geoffrey H. Goodwin
"But Cheney. Remember Men in Black. Theyíd shoot someoneís head, the head would split open and this big black insect would crawl out. Thatís what I think of when I see Cheney. Thereís no way to account for him on a terrestrial level. I know it sounds like Iím being facetious, but Iím really not. I actually find it easier to imagine an insect coming out of his head than to think, 'What are the human forces that shaped him?' The man is just entrenched in evil and slime."
"MFA programs are about the ripest possible fruit to criticize, pick apart, ridicule, and lament. This isnít, though, about MFA programs ruining short stories, about young, risk-taking craftspeople getting derailed by groupthink. But why the choice? Whatís the source of this weird Rubicon across which so few writers seem willing to cross? Why is the list of writers who work in both poetry and fiction so short?"