Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tara Conklin

Tara Conklin is a writer and lawyer currently living with her family in Seattle, WA. Most recently, she worked as a litigator in the New York and London offices of a corporate law firm but now devotes herself full-time to writing fiction.

About The House Girl, Conklin's new, debut novel, Margot Livesey said:
“There’s so much to admire in The House Girl -- two richly imagined heroines, two fully realized worlds, a deeply satisfying plot -- but what made me stand up and cheer was the moral complexity of these characters and the situations they face. I’m grateful for this transporting novel.”
Recently I asked Conklin about what she was reading.  Her reply:
I’m currently in the midst of promotion for my debut novel, The House Girl, which leaves precious little time for reading. I have found that in particularly busy periods, it’s hard for me to focus on a novel so I turn to short story collections. Lucky for me, there are a host of great ones out there these days so I’m dabbling in a few, depending on my mood and whatever is closest to hand. I picked up Jess Walter’s new collection, We Live in Water, at the ALA Conference in Seattle and it’s fantastic. Beautiful Ruins was one of my favorite novels of 2012, so I was eager to read his shorter fiction and I have not been disappointed. The characters here are certainly less glamorous than Beautiful Ruins, but equally human and compelling. The title story, "We Live in Water," is particularly a doozy: time and mind bending, gritty, lovely.

I recently saw Stephanie Powell Watts read from her collection We Are Taking Only What We Need and have been making my slow way through its ten wonderful stories ever since. This is her first collection, and some of the pieces are not as polished as others, but I love the way she throws all these disparate family details and asides into a story and yet, by the end, she’s created a cohesive, compelling whole. I’ll definitely be watching for more of her work.

And finally, I’ve got George Saunders’ Tenth of December on my nightstand, as I suspect most of the reading public does this season. I’d already read some of these stories in The New Yorker and elsewhere in past years, but seeing them all collected in one place casts them in a different light. It’s illuminating to see (or rather, I think I see) the development of certain themes and ideas. His shifting points of view and the dark worlds he creates make this a wild ride, and highly educational from a writing-as-craft perspective. I’ve been underlining passages and taking notes like crazy.
Visit Tara Conklin's website.

The Page 69 Test: The House Girl.

--Marshal Zeringue