Friday, March 6, 2015

Carly Anne West

Carly Anne West is a freelance writer with an MFA in English and Creative Writing from Mills College.

Her new novel is The Bargaining.

Recently I asked West about what she was reading. Her reply:
I’m doing a bit of reading and a bit of listening these days. In the reading column, I’m enjoying a book of short stories from the brilliant Shirley Jackson. No one creates atmosphere like her. She taps into the grotesqueness of human nature and emotion and generates this overwhelming sense of unease. We see a world of depravity in the seemingly mundane, day-to-day existence of ordinary people, and she does it with such grace, I can’t often believe she’s managed it in so few words. Read "The Renegade" or "Charles" to see what I mean. And of course "The Lottery." Chills! I also love reading short stories. They’re like bites of inspiration when I don’t feel like I can manage the whole sandwich.

In the listening category – thanks to podcasts like Serial – I’m now totally fascinated with this method of storytelling. I’m not what you would call an auditory learner. I need to see it or physically do it in order to retain most anything. But stories are, well, a different story. And one of the best series of stories I’ve encountered to-date is this podcast called “Strangers,” hosted by Lea Thau. Basically, it’s a series of character profiles, and each episode explores a person’s intersection with a stranger, or perhaps explores how people are strangers to themselves, and I’m 100% addicted. When I set out to write anything – a book, a short story, a sentence – my first thought always originates with the character. Who am I writing about? What’s her story? Why does it need to be told? The plot erupts from that root, but there is no plot for me unless there’s a person spread out beneath it. So when I get to hear about nothing but characters – even when they’re real … especially when they’re real – I enjoy a whole new form of inspiration.
Learn more about the book and author at Carly Anne West's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Murmurings.

The Page 69 Test: The Bargaining.

--Marshal Zeringue