Friday, February 14, 2020

Constance Sayers

Constance Sayers is a media executive who has twice been named one of the “Top 100 Media People in America” by Folio. Her short stories have appeared in Souvenir and Alternating Current as well as the anthologies Amazing Graces and The Sky is a Free Country. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.

Sayers received her M.A. in English from George Mason University and is the co-founder of the Thoughtful Dog literary magazine.

She lives outside of Washington DC. A Witch in Time is her debut novel.

Recently I asked Sayers about what she was reading. Her reply:
Back in 2017, Philipp Meyer was featured in a "By the Book" interview in the New York Times. He is one of my favorite writers—American Rust and The Son were magnificent. What struck me so much about this interview was how he structured his reading based on what he needed to do that day for writing. If he needed character development, he’d start with Virginia Woolf or if it was dialogue, Richard Pace. Quite brilliantly, Meyer likened reading for a writer to the way athletes condition their bodies. I have kept that interview with me since and follow it pretty faithfully. My reading list is prescriptive in that I often tend to read what I think I’m lacking in my own writing.

So, right now, I’m trying to think quite a bit about nostalgia for my next book and I happened upon The Great Concert of the Night by Jonathan Buckley. It follows a man whose love, an actress, has died. Through her performances and every little thing that reminds him of her (from the way she would read to the way she smelled), he commits a year of his diary entries to fully exploring their relationship, its shortcomings and his grief at losing her. Lush and heartbreaking, the book is a full study of melancholia. I am so in awe of this book that I can only read a few pages of it a day to absorb what Buckley has done. It’s so thick with beautiful language, raw reflection and just a palpable ache that comes through in the pages.

Rarely do I read just one thing. My mind likes to wander so I’m also reading The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia by Emma Copley Eisenberg about the 1980 death of two women in Pocahontas County, West Virginia who were attending the 15,000-person Rainbow Festival. One of my favorite books was Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt and I think that Eisenberg has pulled off a similar thing with this book in that West Virginia becomes a rather vivid character in the search for answers about the killing of these two women.

I also have a pretty long commute to work each day, so I do listen to audiobooks as well. My sister recommended Barbara Pym’s 1952 book, Excellent Women, which examines the life of spinster, Mildred Lathbury, in post-war London. I’m so invested in every little thing Mildred does—from her life in the church, to the dinner she makes and the tiny slights she perceives that I’d follow her anywhere. The book is so funny and the audiobook really transitions me from work to home and vice versa.
Visit Constance Sayers's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Witch in Time.

The Page 69 Test: A Witch in Time.

--Marshal Zeringue