Caroline Bock is the author of the new story collection Carry Her Home. She also has written the young adult novels Lie and Before My Eyes, and her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including SmokeLong and Little Patuxent Review. She is a lecturer in creative writing at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia, and she lives in Maryland.
Q: Your book has been described as "autobiographical fiction." What did you see as the right blend between the autobiographical and the fictional?
A: In the 47 stories, ranging from flash fiction to full-length stories, in Carry Her Home, most are very close-to-the-bone fiction, autobiographical fiction. It would be a lie to say I wholly made up the characters —I even ended up using the real names of my parents—and my name.
In several stories, I envision my parents’ tumultuous courtship of which I know only the barest “true” details. I took what I had to from life and made up the rest. These are stories I had to write because I felt lost. What I found is fiction, all close to my heart, some written as if in blood.
Q: Over how long a period did you write the stories collected in Carry Her Home?
A: I wrote the stories over the past six years—since the deaths of my father and mother.
Q: How was the book's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?
A: The original title was String Theory, but it ended up being too close to a recent title from the press, and probably a bit misleading – there’s very little science in this collection —actually, that story is about a string bikini.
However, when I chose Carry Her Home, I wish it had always been the title of the collection. So many of the stories in the collection are about love and tragedy, and in the title story, a young husband and father tries to carry his wife home from a state hospital.
Q: The stories are grouped into several sections. How did you choose the order in which they'd be presented?
A: Gut instinct. The stories range from the 1960s to present day, but jump back and forth in time, more like memory.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: A novel, Remember the Future—what I hope to be my first adult novel (I have two young adult novels – Lie and Before My Eyes published by St. Martin’s). It’s set in 2099 in New York, Camp David, and the D.C. area.
The Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County awarded me a 2018 Scholars & Artist grant for this novel. So keep your fingers crossed that Remember the Future sees a future.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I meet a lot of aspiring writers—I teach at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda—and so many people have stories that are wonderful, ready for the page, but they are scared/nervous/hesitant to start writing; or worse, they start and never finish; or worse, they finish and never submit it anywhere; or worse, they submit it one place and when they’re rejected, because rejection will happen, they are forever discouraged.
I urge all writers, myself included, to not give up, to remind yourself: your writing is worth the investment of time, patience, and determination. I wouldn’t have Carry Her Home if I didn’t think that.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb