Interview with Katie Stine, whose short story, ‘Gregarious,’ is in Issue Two. See her recite it below.
Why do you write and what do you hope to achieve in doing it?
In a personal letter, Franz Kafka said, “a non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.” While I might not put the terms so dire in my own personal correspondence, for me writing is a compulsion. I have tried to forget it, put it behind me, as if the act of conjuring up characters was an old flame. I burned its letters, I cut my hair, I changed my wardrobe, moved to a different city. Still, writing dogged me. I am an addict. They say acceptance is the first step in addiction. Now that I have accepted that I will write regardless of the status of my bank account, my social life, or the well-being of my cat’s litterbox, I hope to write fiction that grasps another human being. A fine turn of phrase is nice, but ultimately hollow if there is no call to connect with the reader.
What are the major themes found in your work?
The major themes in my work are feminism and Otherness. I dislike the idea of female being always in opposition to male: the idea of “like a girl” means weakness, because the opposite “like a boy” somehow would mean strength, even though the simile is still about children.
What book are you currently reading?
I just finished Sarah Waters’ The Night Watch about women in London during and after WWII. She writes about Otherness in very real ways, showing how marginalized women (who often happen to be gay) existed in other time periods. I’ve always enjoyed her work, and this is the first book I’ve read of hers set in the 20th century. As an American, the bombing of London during WWII was something I knew, but did not feel. Through movies and television we’ve imagined being huddled below ground, or having our windows papered over. What The Night Watch showed was how the people left in London (many of whom were women because the men were in the military) still lived, where they ate, what they did to help out each other and the war effort. In particular, one of these women was part of the ambulance service, going to sites of bombings to extract people from the rubble and transport them to the hospital for care. I had never read anything that discussed this side before—a woman’s view of the war that had nothing to do with a husband or children. I found it fascinating.
Any background info to your piece in Issue Two?
My short fiction piece, “Gregarious,” is about a couple trying something new in their marriage. Narrated by the (unnamed) wife, she tells us how different she and her husband are, an unlikely couple. Ultimately, it is the fear of losing him to someone more like himself that causes her to shut the door on broadening her love. I wanted to talk about how even after marriage, the work of staying close is challenging. There are lies that we tell ourselves and our partners for the sake of the marriage itself, not for the sake of the individuals in the marriage.
What’s on the horizon for you with your writing?
I am courting agents right now to represent my novels. I write historical fiction that emphasizes women, minorities, and misfits. We’ve heard the stories from the heroes, so I like to investigate what the average person might have seen and felt during times of upheaval. For instance, one of my novels features a character from a dwindling Native American tribe at the turn of the twentieth century.