Thursday, August 11, 2016

Q&A with Maryse Meijer

Maryse Meijer is the author of the new story collection Heartbreaker. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Meridian and The Saint Ann's Review. She lives in Chicago.

Q: How was the story collection’s title (also the title of one of the stories) chosen, and what does it signify for you?

A: The collection focuses mostly on relationships that go, in some way, awry, and I thought "Heartbreaker" was apt. And, too, there's a certain irony there, as most of the people/animals/things doing the heartbreaking aren't the usual suspects...

Q: Your writing has been described by some reviewers as “dark.” Do you agree with that characterization?

A: I'm not quite sure what "dark" means to the people who apply it to my work...maybe it has to do with a certain brutality, or suffering? There's certainly some of that in this book.

That being said, I don't see my own work as nihilistic or deadly serious...I hope there's some humor and humanity in my work, some light jabbing its way into all the corners my characters seems to enjoy hiding in.

But ultimately it's up to the reader to interpret the work as they please, and I'm happy to entertain all the labels and perspectives and interpretations...

Q: When you’re writing your stories, do you know how they will end, or do you change things as you go along?

A: I usually know when a story will end about halfway through a first draft. I rarely know from the beginning, as I usually sit down with no sense at all of a story, just a mood or image I want to explore. 

Q: How did you select the order in which the stories appear in the book, and do you see common themes among them?

A: My agent, the excellent Meredith Kaffel, worked with me to select the stories for the volume from a larger pool of possibilities, and other than the placement of the first story, Home, I had no particular preference for how the book was ordered.

The process of putting the book together helped me see what the stories had in common--a preoccupation, mainly, with the ways in which people navigate desire, loneliness, and violence. 

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I'm revising a first novel and polishing up a second collection of stories. 

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: Everyone should know that I have a twin sister, Danielle, who is my muse and first reader, my most intuitive editor, and my best friend.

I started writing because of her and kept writing because of her--ever since I can remember, she's been supporting my work in every way, from reading millions of drafts to creating characters and plot lines that I am constantly drawing from. So much of who I am and what I do exists because of her. She is the reason I write. 

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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