JLD – MaryAnne Kolton. Who are you, really?
MAK - I am a mother, wife, excessive animal lover, writer of short stories, poetry, a few essays and the occasional fairy tale. A voracious reader of almost everything.
JLD - You are trapped in an elevator with Lucifer, who appears in the form of Anderson Cooper and says, "I can grant you any single thing your heart desires, anything on earth. But just one.” What would you ask for?
MAK - World peace? Better lives for all those who are suffering in any way? Not sure I am at the point where I would make the proverbial "deal with the devil.” Can't I just spend the time getting to know Anderson better?
JLD - No. This sounds strangely like a Miss America Pageant from 1959. Let's try a different tack. Instead of Lucifer, you are trapped in an elevator with your favorite writer of all time. He or she tells you, "You can ask me any one question. No matter what it is, I'll answer.” Who is the writer? What will you ask?
MAK - This falls into the category of an "agonizing" question. My preference changes often. I am totally infatuated with so many writers past and present. Forcing me to pick one is like handing me a five-pound box of exquisite chocolates and saying, "You may have one and one only. Pick now.” At this moment, Ishiguro Kazuo is my favorite. "How do you manage to turn the words of a novel into such succulent prose?" is the question I would ask him.
JLD - Given the fact that you may never have the opportunity to pose such a question, how do you think he would answer? Or: given the supposition that all writers want to achieve a high level of quality in their prose, how do you imagine you would answer such a question?
MAK - First off, I don't think every writer wants to write prose fiction. However, I imagine that IK would tell me that he quiets himself before writing and then chooses his words most carefully during the process of composition.
I would also advise that writing be a thoughtful process as well as a search for thoughts. Find a flavorful word to replace a less tasty one, a passionate phrase to take the place of an emotionally empty series of words. Basically, discard those flat, overused, dull words and put full, well-rounded, not-ordinary ones in their place.
JLD - Delicious words. Passionate words. Emotionally evocative words. What do you think is the most delicious, passionate and emotionally evocative word in the English language?
MAK – Succulent.
JLD - Good choice! Last question, a bit conventional, but there it is. Now that you are writing full time, where are you going and what do you hope to produce?
MAK - Like everybody else, I'd like to go as far as I can. A published collection of short stories is a nice dream, but then so is one story selected for print by Glimmer Train. I have been away from the self-imposed discipline of writing for so many years and am struggling to get back into "Writer Mode". I tend to send things out too soon - patience. I need to let my pieces marinate longer and then do a final rewrite. I also need to get over myself and stop letting every rejection have such a devastating effect on me.
As for what I hope to produce, that's easy. The best work I possibly can!
James Lloyd Davis is a writer whose work and bio can be found at:
(Disclaimer: James Lloyd Davis and MaryAnne Kolton are husband and wife, and though Mr. Davis has tried to be impartial, he must subsequently concede that the appearance, if not the possibility exists that he may have been biased in the development of the above questions.)