Jeffrey Ford: The Interfictions 2 Interview
By Christian Desrosiers
(Note: To celebrate the launch of Interfictions 2, the IAF's second anthology of short interstitial fiction, Christian Desrosiers from Small Beer Press interviewed several of the anthology's contributors. The second of these interviews was with Jeffrey Ford, author of "The War Between Heaven and Hell Wallpaper". For more interviews with Interfictions 2 contributors, please visit our Interfictions 2 Interviews page.)
Illustration by Gerard Wickham
Would you consider this piece autobiography?
I'd consider it fiction, although it has autobiographical aspects to it. The way it goes down is pretty much the way it happened, but I tweaked it here and there, messed around with some details, etc. Come to think of it, I guess there are people who write autobiography that way as well.
What space does the narrator occupy in this story? What is his function? (Just to relate your vision?)
The narrator is the main character. The chain of tenuously linked events happens to him and in his mind. Without him there wouldn't be much of a story. His main function is to tell the story.
Do you consider it Interstitial writing? What is Interstitial writing to you?
I didn't when I wrote it, which was quite some time before the anthology was announced. I just noted a likeness in some of my thoughts and things that happened to me over a given period of time and tried to follow the arc of those related incidents and thoughts. I suppose you could call it interstitial in that it mixes reportage, dream, daydream, but there are a lot of works that do that and I don't think anyone thinks of them as particularly interstitial. The difference in this story has more to do with simply the structure. That and the fact that the effect of the story comes not as a result of linear action but more from the coalescing of like details, like a cloud. That is if you consider that it works as a story at all. I understand the meaning of the term interstitial, but am not so clear on what interstitial writing is. What it means to me as a writer, in the case of the Interfictions 2 anthology, is a chance to take chances, mix things up, and to appear in a book with other writers taking chances, edited by a pair of editors whose directive is to cut loose and see where it takes you.
Are there specific, overall goals, that you are pursuing in your writing, generally?
I'm always trying to tell a good story the way it needs to be told. If I follow that idea it takes me to some interesting places in writing. I listen to the story and try to determine what it wants to be. I keep an eye on allowing myself to evolve as a writer. I'm always making mistakes, discovering new approaches.
What is the relationship between the words of the story, the vision you experienced, and reality as most of us most consistently perceive it?
Well, the language on the page is the physical manifestation of the vision and a conduit to the reader. It's more than just individual words that form descriptions or convey a conversation, it's the way they are put on the paper, the sentence structure, the way they flow. There's a lot of powerful storytelling magic in how the words appear and the correlations between them visually, rhthymically, structurally. This sort of thing is something you never stop learning about as long as you write. You don't learn it with the intellect, though. It seems more intuitive to me. As far as a "reality" most of us most consistently perceive that's a tough one, since how am I to know I really understand what that is? I could think I do, and I might, but... As far as that goes, you hope for the best.
I guess I was getting more at your story particularly: did it arise organically as a story or was it some sort of visual (or otherwise sensory) experience that you molded into words?
I believe that the story came from a series of events that took place over a period of a week a dream, a conversation, a daydream, a visit to a hotel and a memory. It struck me finally at the end of the week that all of these things were related in that they all had a religious basis to them. I'm not involved with organized religion in any way in my life now, but I was brought up Catholic and the whole experience impressed me with its weirdness when I was a kid. I saw them as a kind of story, but one that was not linear. A story where the underlying theme is the main character. After noticing the connections to these events and thoughts, I realized that this phenomenon happens fairly regularly to me, but usually, or until this instance, I'd not had the wherewithal to follow the connections, to make the analogies, and/or to follow the thread of the idea.
How does the ending fit into the dynamics of the wallpaper? The father seems to just be relaying observations which seem to be exempt from moral considerations.
I don't know, but my feeling is that because the story he tells is about a priest, a figure who has something to do with the Catholic religion, which, one way or another, the rest of the piece does, I figure it's got some connection somewhere.
What is your next project?
No novel news. I have a collection, Crackpot Palace, that's pretty much done, but if it gets published it won't be out for a while. Some of the stories will be initially appearing in anthologies over the course of the next year.
About Jeffrey Ford
Jeffrey Ford's stories and novels have been nominated multiple times for the World Fantasy Award, the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Award, and the Edgar Allan Poe Award. He has been the recipient of three World Fantasy Awards, for his second novel The Physiognomy, the short story collection The Fantasy Writer's Assistant and Other Stories, and his short story "Creation". His most recent novel is The Shadow Year.
How to Order Interfictions 2
Interfictions 2 is now available from Small Beer Press, Powell's and Amazon, and via IndieBound. The book was published on November 3rd, 2009 from Small Beer Press and was named one of Amazon.com's Top 10 Books of 2009: Science Fiction & Fantasy.