“I know I’m on the right track when I’m terrified for a character”: Maggie Shipstead talks with Lydia Fitzpatrick about her debut novel, Lights All Night Long, as well as where books begin, leaps of imagination, the momentum of a murder mystery plot, and more.
Watson was born and raised in Meridian, Mississippi. And the Mississippi of today, and of the not-too-distant past, is the setting of much of his fiction. In Airships, Barry Hannah wrote that “In Mississippi, it’s hard to achieve a vista,” but Brad Watson does just that in this new collection. Not only is there a breathtaking sense of the Gulf Coast and the Delta in his writing, that geography is given depth—a hardscrabble social landscape inseparable from the place itself.
Donald Ray Pollock, author of the 2008 collection Knockemstiff, left high school at seventeen to work at a meatpacking plant. A year later, he landed a union job at the Mead Paper Mill in Chillicothe, where he worked for the next thirty-two years. He didn’t start writing until his forties, and even then he kept his day job—writing mornings, nights, and weekends. Lydia Fitzpatrick and Kate Levin talk with the author about coming to writing late, getting an MFA, and making disreputable characters empathetic.
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