Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Q&A with Amber Sparks



Amber Sparks is the author of the story collection And I Do Not Forgive You. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Literary Hub and In Style. She lives in Washington, D.C.


Q: Over how long a period did you write the stories in And I Do Not Forgive You, and how did you choose the book's title?


A: The stories were mostly written after 2016, after Trump was elected - especially after 2018 and #MeToo and everything after. They came in a bit of a rush for me (I'm a slow writer!).


I chose the title based on the last line of one of the stories - it really embodied the whole revenge theme of the book for me, and I also wanted to make the point that forgiveness is not always needed or wanted. 


Q: How did you decide on the order in which the stories would appear in the book?


A: That's always so tricky for me! My usual method, I guess, which is to frontload the best stories, and then realize the last few stories suck, and write new stories, and frontload those, and repeat until the whole collection feels tight. 


Q: In a review of the book on NPR, Ilana Masad said that "while the range of emotions evoked in the collection as a whole is broad, I found myself most often sitting with that indescribable ache that characterizes the bittersweet." What do you think of that assessment?


A: I love it. I think the bittersweet is probably my favorite emotion to write - like anything that's complex, there tends to be a lot to sit with, and for a long time after.


I joke all the time that my writing is so depressing, but then I go back and read it and I'm like, oh, this isn't really so depressing - there's something lovely and also sad here. There's often an ache in my work, because I think life is mostly accompanied by aches - emotional and physical. 


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?


A: I don't know that I want them to take away anything in particular - I'm very much of the school that when I'm done with a book, it's the reader's book now, not mine, and I hope they will make it their own.


But I suppose wrote the book - and published the book - because I was looking for a kind of catharsis, and I suppose that it would be nice if it helps others find that same kind of catharsis, too. 


Q: What are you working on now? 


A: A novel! It's terrible! I mean, the process, but potentially also the novel! But I'm really stubborn. I can't not do it. 


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: No one should actually take the revenges outlined in the book. They're for entertainment purposes only; please do not not try to imitate or carry out the actions of the characters depicted within, for your safety and the safety of others. 


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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