Welcome to our new interview series, “Contributors’ Corner,” where we open the floor each week to one of our contributors to the journal. This week, we hear from Jane Liddle, whose story “The Last List” appears in 2.2.
Jane Liddle waited at school bus stops in Newburgh, New York, learned to drive on the north shore of Massachusetts, stayed up all night in Pittsburgh, and now reads and writes in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Two Serious Ladies, Wigleaf, WhiskeyPaper, Monkeybicycle, alice blue, and elsewhere. You can find her at liddlejane.tumblr.com or on Twitter @janeriddle.
Can you share a moment that has shaped you as a writer (or continues to)?
Whenever I am stuck trying to say something about a social issue or topic in a story, I remember what a writing teacher once said to me: “Every good story has a theme.” Meaning, if the story is there and good, a theme will be present organically. I think this is true, and sometimes it’s useful to step back and not try to make a comment on an issue or an aspect of the human condition with your story as much as just tell a good one. Sometimes the theme that then arises will surprise you.
What are you reading?
Currently finishing up Nikolai V. Gogol’s Dead Souls, which I am enjoying, as expected since I am a fan of Russian novels. I am surprised and pleased with how much slapstick is in the novel. There’s one scene where two characters both try to squeeze through a doorway, which is such a classic comedic cliché. I half expect Chichikov to slip on a banana peel any scene now. Though they probably didn’t have bananas in rural Russia back then.
Can you tell us what prompted “The Last List”?
It’s been a while, but I think the structure of the story came to me first. I wanted to play with the idea of telling a story of a person’s life by picking out a detail from each year that person was alive. But then I had to kill her off relatively young or else the repetition would get boring.
What’s next? What are you working on?
I just finished my first collection of short stories so now I have to figure out how to get that published. Suggestions and introductions are welcome. Next I want to work on two longer works, one a dystopian mystery about a woman and her missing brother, and the second a series of vignettes about murders.
Take the floor. Be political. Be fanatical. Be anything.
Fuck record players that don’t have an automatic-return tone arm.