Ron Carlson’s most recent novel is The Signal (Viking). He directs the graduate program in fiction at the University of California-Irvine. His story, “Esther Donnally,” appears in the Summer 2011 issue of The Kenyon Review, available here.
KR: Is there a story behind your KR piece? Talk about how the books you are reading influence your writing.How do you anticipate what your reader’s imagination will bring to your work?
KR: What internal or external factors have the biggest influence on your creative process?
RC: Oh, are not the days delicate instruments? I try to tap in early in the day to the smallest moment in my story, nothing big, great, or grand. I’ve learned that writing a sentence closely can lead to another and rescue the morning. On the days I write, I try not to let much of anything in the morning come between me and my starting.
KR: In the spectrum of entertainment and media (music, movies, television, Internet, art, etc.) where does the literary pursuit fit?
RC: We take our ability to think, to test, to decode everywhere we go, like magic glasses. Understanding how to read well enables us to parse entertainment, etc. instantly and pursue remarkable work in all genres. It helps us mightily to avoid being duped by the great forces of duperism roaming the land.
KR: What advice would you give yourself five years ago?
RC: Hey, Dude, go outside for a little while.