Here's what y'all have been looking forward to! So let's dive right in!
Interview with April Lindner
As a teen and in college, what did you like to read?
My taste in books hasn’t changed much over the years. I’ve always loved really thick novels that I can get lost in. Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights were my favorites then and still are now. But I’ve always loved contemporary novels too, and poetry. In high school and college I was obsessed with Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, poets who turned their personal lives into art.
What books are you into now?
Novels are my favorite reading material, and I tend to read a mix of YA and adult. Right now the stack beside my bed includes Diana Peterfreund’s For Darkness Shows the Stars, and Lisa Klein’s Ophelia, both YA literary retellings. It also includes poetry—the Collected Poems of James Merrill, and Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon: Selected Poems of Pablo Neruda. And there’s a memoir in there, Amy Smith’s All Roads Lead to Austen, about reading Jane Austen’s novel with book groups in Latin American destination. I also just finished reading Cheryl Strayed’s wonderful memoir Wild, about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail while mourning the death of her mother and the breakup of her marriage. For the first few chapters I kept shaking my head and wondering why anyone would want to hike the Pacific Crest Trail with its bears and rattlesnakes and scary weather, and by the end I was making plans to hike the Appalachian Trail myself…or maybe just a tiny little portion of it.
How did you decide to update the classics?
I have a passion for retellings of classic literature; I can’t seem to get enough. It was only natural that I would want to write one of my own, and Jane Eyre seemed ripe for an update. Writing Jane was so satisfying that I wanted to keep going, so I dug into Wuthering Heights and wrote Catherine next.
What and/or who has influenced your writing?
This is a tough question because I’ve had so many influences. I’ve taken a lot of creative writing workshops with amazing teachers, many of them poets: Mekeel McBride, Thomas Lux, Jean Valentine, Cornelius Eady, Andrew Hudgins, Don Bogen—too many to name, really. I’ve also studied with the fiction writers Thomas Williams and Chuck Wachtel. And then there are the authors I’ve never met but whose books have taught me important lessons about writing: Francine Prose, Ann Patchett, and Meg Wolitzer spring to mind. And my Mom, Grace Lindner, who helped me to fall in love with books in the first place.
We know that you’ve updated Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. What other classics are you working on or considering?
I’ve been working on a modernization of E. M. Forster’s A Room With a View, about an American backpacker in Italy whose encounter with a street musician changes her life. I’ve just been told it will be published by Poppy in Fall or Winter 2014.
How long have you been writing?
Forever! I’ve been writing stories and poems since I could hold a pencil.
How long did it take to get an agent? How about to get published?
Things happened very quickly once I wrote Jane. The first agent I queried took me on as a client, and one of the first batch of publishers she sent it to accepted it. But that’s the tip of the iceberg. I’d been working on my craft as a writer for decades, and have been struggling to establish myself as a poet for almost as long. So the real answer is my whole adult life.
What would you like to tell hopeful writers?
Don’t give up. There were many discouraging years when I was constantly sending my poems out to literary magazines and if I was very lucky I would get one acceptance a year. But while I was sending work out I was also continuing to hone my craft. Over time, the acceptances began coming more quickly. No matter what, keep writing.
Also read deeply and widely. It may seem like a paradox, but the more you read the more powerfully your own voice will emerge. If you fall in love with one writer and read only them your voice will come out sounding like an imitation of that writer. But if you read many writers your own voice will emerge, and it will be a blend of everyone you’ve read and your own unique sensibility.
Alright, Readers, you read it; Lucy's story is next!!! The rest of the interview is where I ask more personal questions, so stay tuned for Wednesday!