Last month I posted a review of Susan Tepper's new and acclaimed book of short stories, Deer. This month I'm following that interview up with a series of interview questions. I'll be posting one question and answer each day this week.
Here's the interview for today!
Tree: Susan, since you lived with these characters a long time as you were I wonder how you would assimilate into your characters' landscapes, the worlds they live in. Of all the characters in your stories, which one lives in a landscape in which you would most like to spend a year?
Susan: Wow, tough to answer. My first thought was none. Most of these characters are struggling. Then I decided I could live in the landscape of childhood again, particularly the landscape of Henrietta in "Velvet Box." She's a scrappy girl, smart and independent. Life doesn't touch her. It's the suburbs, in the 1950's, when children were allowed to run free. She has her little tribe: younger sister, Bibi, and younger cousin, Pete. She's the leader of this pack and the world is her oyster. She tears around the neighborhood saying and doing pretty much as she pleases. There's grass and trees and dogs and caterpillars and hydrangea bushes and plastic lawn deer. There's also a violent neighbor, a repressive church and a dying uncle. Henrietta remains aloof from all that is not life affirming. She does this unconsciously. That life can be bad or difficult simply doesn't penetrate her spirit. And that is the ultimate freedom. I could definitely live there.
Tree: That sounds like my childhood. I would take off all day on my pony, with a BB gun and a lunch. Nobody worried about me all day. It's a sort of freedom children today don't know. I could live in that landscape again, although I'd do without the BB gun!
Tomorrow: Susan turns to the other end of life for one of her characters and discusses her thoughts when nearing death.