Interview Archives


Meet Our New Librarian Allison Escoto! 


You may have seen a new face behind our front desk—now find out a little bit more about our librarian in this interview. 










Open In Emergency:

An Interview with Mimi Khúc 


Discussions about mental health can be difficult, but Open In Emergency, a new work of book art published by the Asian American Literary Review, aims to open up the conversation. In this interview our web editor Kristin Henley talks with Mimi Khúc, scholar, writer and guest editor of Open In Emergency. 







An Interview with Rene Denfeld

on The Child Finder 


In this interview our web editor Kristin Henley talked with Denfeld about writing difficult subjects, finding a work/life balance, and bringing characters to life. 










On Wandering and Writing:

An Interview with Sybil Baker


In this interview our development associate Iris Mahan talks with writer Sybil Baker about her recent nonfiction collection Immigration Essays, which explores the history of Chattanooga against the backdrop of Baker's own familial history and the experiences of her life abroad. 







Writing America: 

An Interview with Julia Fierro


In Julia Fierro's new novel, The Gypsy Moth Summer, she tells the story of the seemingly-idyllic Avalon Island from an ensemble narration of richly-drawn characters. The gypsy moths who have invaded the island are just one clue that the environment is not healthy and that the inhabitants will be the ones to suffer the consequences. Our web editor Kristin Henley talked with Fierro about writing her sophomore novel, exploring various viewpoints, and her advice for emerging writers. 





Finding Angela Carter: 

An Interview with Biographer

Edmund Gordon


In a new and insightful biography, The Invention of Angela Carter, author Edmund Gordon looks at the life of this often mythologized writer, while offering astute criticism of her many works. In this interview our web editor Kristin Henley talks to Gordon about the challenges of writing biography and taking on Carter's legacy.







Six Questions for Marina Budhos

Author of Watched


Marina Budhos will join us at the Center this spring for a KidsRead event with high school students to discuss her award-winning Watched, a novel set in Queens about survelliance, immigrants and the issues facing Muslims in America. In this interview, we sat down with Marina to talk with her about writing for teenagers and adults, seeing her book turned into theater, and what she loves to read.





Peter Constantine Talks to Judy Sternlight


Here translator, editor, and director of the Literary Translation Program at the University of Connecticut, Peter Constantine talks to editor Judy Sternlight about translation and its rise in popularity. The two of them worked together on several projects for The Modern Library including The Essential Writings of Machiavelli, a finalist for the PEN Translation Prize. READ MORE




Torrey Maldonado


The author of Secret Saturdays joined us for a KidsRead event to talk to seventh grade students from The Renaissance Charter School and the Ascend Charter School. We decided to keep the questions for Torrey going and ask him about juggling his life as a writer and a teacher.  READ MORE









Alice Mattison


The legendary teacher and writer talks to Sarai Walker about penning a book on writing (The Kite and the String), the importance of diverse voices, and the best advice she's ever received. READ MORE








Sofia Quintero


As part of our KidsRead program, author Sofia Quintero visited the Center to talk about her book Show and Prove with students from The Academy for Young Writers. We asked Sofia a few questions about how she got her start writing for teens, using technology to connect with readers, and how she addresses social issues in her writing. READ MORE







David L. Ulin


Writer and book critic David L. Ulin discusses his book Ear to the Ground with our website editor Kristin Henley. Originally published as a serial novel in The Los Angeles Reader in the 90's, the book has recently been released by Unnamed Press. Here, Ulin discusses co-writing the novel with Paul Kolsby, serial novels as an art form, and the thrilling nature of earthquakes. READ MORE







Viet Thanh Nguyen


Viet Thanh Nguyen won the 2015 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize for his debut novel, The Sympathizer. Here, he talks to our Executive Director, Noreen Tomassi, about developing the narrator's voice, American literature on the Vietnam War, and the risks he took in his novel.  READ MORE







On February 11, violin-viola duo andPlay performed a concert inspired by The Borrowers for our “Notes on Fiction” series, where local ensembles curate concerts that inspired by fiction. Their concert featured contemporary classical music by young, up-and-coming composers. We sat down with andPlay to talk music, books, and snacks, which seem to be an essential part of their creative process!  READ MORE



Matthew Thomas


Sara Batkie talks with the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize finalist about writing his debut novel, the American Dream, and Queens as a crossroads. READ MORE









Josh Weil


Christopher Messer talks to the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize finalist about myth and fable, the novella form, and the influence of Russian culture and language. READ MORE









Tiphanie Yanique


Noreen Tomassi talks to the winner of the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize talks about her social responsibility as a writer from the Virgin Islands, our current dystopia, her greatest influences, and more. READ MORE











Terese Svoboda


Tracy Young interviews the author of five novels, most recently Bohemian Girl, named one of the ten best 2012 Westerns by Booklist, five books of poetry, and a memoir Black Glasses Like Clark Kent that won the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize, about writing, workshops and the expectation of miracles. READ MORE









 Liese Mayer 


 Stefan Merrill Block interviews Scribner editor Liese Mayer  about "demystify[ing] the  dream of turning a manuscript on a  hard drive into an actual published book". 







Margaret Wrinkle


Noreen Tomassi talks to the Center for Fiction’s Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize Winner about growing up in the segregated South, seeking out the truth of her ancestors, writing through her fears and doubts, learning about African wisdom, and bringing her novel to completion.  READ MORE










Luis Negrón

Matt Nelson talks with the author of Mundo Cruel about why he doesn't want to become the next Bolaño, how journalism helps his fiction, the brilliance of the Telenova, being a drama queen, and the one thing that keeps him from writing.  READ MORE






Renata Adler

Dawn Raffel talks with the author of Speedboat and Pitch Dark about transcendant reading, writing a fine sentence, picking a fight, Isaac Babel--and Oprah.  READ MORE








Alejandro Zambra

Matt Nelson talks with the Chilean author about Joyce and Borges, the opacity of a good book, and why "the idea of a message is a drag." READ MORE









Sterling Lord

Dawn Raffel talks with the iconic agent about Kerouac and Kesey, the thrill of discovery, and why physical books matter. READ MORE








James Salter 


On May 15, 2013 the legendary James Salter joined Center Director Noreen Tomassi for a live interview about his novel, All That Is. Salter was the author of the novels Solo Faces, Light Years, A Sport and a Pastime, The Arm of Flesh (revised as Cassada), and The Hunters; the memoirs Gods of Tin and Burning the Days; the collection Dusk and Other Stories, which won the 1989 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction; and Last Night, which earned him the 2010 Rea Award for the Short Story. READ MORE







Owen King


The author of Double Feature talks with Noreen Tomassi about the long gestation of a first novel, dealing with reviews, managing expectations (no, it won't change your life), and thriving as a working artist. read









Ben Fountain


Noreen Tomassi talks with the winner of the 2012 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel prize, about Cowboys football, the  war in Iraq, being the Imelda Marcos of books, and his long gestation as a writer. READ MORE











Michael Kimball

Dawn Raffel talks with the author of Big Ray about obsession, love for an unlikeable character, and turning grief into art. READ MORE













Lynne Sharon Schwartz


Dawn Raffel talks with Schwartz about her nineteenth book, Two-Part Inventions, and the influence of music on her writing. READ MORE













Charles Baxter


MaryAnne Kolton talks with Baxter about creativity, craft, and crisis. READ MORE












Heidi Julavits


John Wray talks with the author of The Vanishers about alternate universes, psychic warefare, Susan Sontag, and The Hunger GamesREAD MORE













Don Katz


Dawn Raffel talks with the CEO of Audible about the future of technology—and the non-future of the middleman. READ MORE










Jamie Quatro


Dawn Raffel talks with the author of I Want to Show You More about everything from musket balls in the back yard to decoding a kid's phone message to the question she'd like to ask Barry Hannah. READ MORE












Bonnie Nadzam


Noreen Tomassi talks with the author of Lamb about her experience as a debut novelist and the strong reactions of readers. READ MORE










Richard Ford and Joyce Carol Oates


Two literary friends on everything from profanity to homesickness to talent and obsession. READ MORE





Margaret Atwood


Dawn Raffel talks with the literary maverick about wonder tales, Scheherezade, post-9/11 dystopias, and Picasso's response to cave paintings. READ MORE












Stefan Merrill Block


Noreen Tomassi engages the author of The Storm at the Door in a discussion on becoming a writer, memory, and maladies of the mind. READ MORE











M.G. Vassanji


Dawn Raffel talks to the author of The Magic of Saida about travel and exile, unfashionable subjects, and the moral responsiblity to tell the truth. READ MORE











Carmela Ciuraru


A dialogue with Dawn Raffel on the significance of pen names.


" had an assignment from a magazine where the editor said, 'The theme of this issue is secrets. How can you apply that to literature?' So my mind went to pseudonyms, and I wrote a small piece. After the assignment, I had a mountain of research left over and I wanted to keep going...." READ MORE










Linda Fairstein


In advance of her appearance as part of the Center's Crime Fiction Academy, the legendary crime writer talked to Dawn Raffel about taking the midlife risk to become a writer, parsing the news, and keeping a crime fiction series vital. 


I think it’s extremely difficult for anyone to attempt to establish themselves as a fiction writer, although in my case the prosecutorial ‘day job’ made it far easier. Most people have no idea that from my adolescence on, I dreamed of being a writer." READ MORE




Camilla Lackberg


The Swedish crime writer discusses her second novel, The Preacher.


"Ever since I was a child, I have been interested in the darker sides of humanity, and I have read tons and tons about crimes, psychology, and forensics. So I do believe I have quite an in-depth knowledge of forensics, even though I’m not an expert...." Read MOre








Francisco Goldman


Dawn Raffel talks to the author of Say Her Name about grief, desire, and the need to put it on the page.


"I began without even thinking about genre. But that meant: If you’re not really thinking about genre, you’re already in the terrain of a novel because you’re not imposing that strictness on yourself..." READ MORE







Megan Abbott


Meg Pokrass talks to Abbott about teenage demons, sexual awakenings, and the making of her new novel. 


"As a kid, one of my favorite novels was Lois Duncan’s Daughters of Eve, the tale of a dangerously charismatic teacher. And I was particularly interested in the way, for young girls in particular, it can feel like a crush...." READ MORE








Sandra Gilbert


Maura Kelly talks to the groundbreaking feminist critic about constraint, decorum, freedom, madness, and the popularity of Jane Austen.


"My sense is that what today's young female writers are doing is so varied that I am unwilling to generalize. But until quite recently, such magnificent writers as Margaret Atwood and Toni Morrison continued to work with the themes and motifs Susan Gubar and I long ago discerned: constraint vs. freedom, decorum vs. madness—in other words, the psychological consequences of the exploitation or oppression of women....Read More



Susan Orlean


Dawn Raffel talks to Susan Orlean about her book Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend. 


"He had charisma, coupled with a vulnerability that is entirely credible in a dog and not so credible in a human. And because he wasn’t human, we aren’t tempted to react to him with all our own opinions and judgments. He was a hero who might also lick your hand and sleep at the foot of your bed: a combination that made people fall in love with him."  READ MORE




Kate Bernheimer


The editor of My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales discusses fairy tales with writers Kevin Brockmeier, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Timothy Schaffert, and Maria Tatar. Read More








Robley Wilson


A discussion on genre-hopping, boundary-free editing, and the necessity of virtuoso grumbling. 


"From the beginning, I wanted to write short stories; Hemingway, Wolfe, Maugham—these were my early cup of tea—and later Updike and Salinger and even Roth...." READ MORE








Blake Butler


The author of There is No Year answers three questions on influence and aesthetics.


"I would say I’ve been influenced by the hole behind my face and by my mother and by itchy skin and not being able to sit still..."READ MORE








Cynthia Ozick


A conversation with Alessandra Farkas on Holocaust writing, literary influence, and the great American novel. 


"Yet it will never be possible — it has never been possible — to escape the effect of this mammoth atrocity of the Twentieth Century, which has changed the world forever. Changed the world forever, you may ask, when time obliterates nearly everything?..." READ MORE





Yiyun Li


The celebrated author speaks with Noreen Tomassi about dislocation, relocation, writing about the history of China, and being inspired by Jewish and Irish writers.


"I don’t feel the obligation to represent China, but I would hate to misrepresent it. I’m a fiction writer; it’s very hard not to make up things. But I think that the historical period has to be right, has to be accurate, in so far as I can do that...." Read More







Edith Pearlman


The renowned short story writer talks with Literarian editor Dawn Raffel.


"I love short stories—reading them, thinking about them, talking about them. Writing them is another part of that pleasure. I think the pleasure doesn’t fade because while I’m writing a story I live in it. It’s a journey on which I meet interesting people—and pay no travel expenses." Read More