Kristine Ong Muslim interview with Meg Tuite
These five exquisite micro-fiction pieces, “Man in a Black Suit,” “Time Transfixed,” “Townscape,” “The Apartment Building Before it was Torn Down” and “City of the Dead,” are all inspired by paintings. Tell us about how you came up with this brilliant idea for your amazing collection, “We Bury the Landscape.” (Queen’s Ferry Press)
I’ve always loved ekphrastic writing. Edward Hirsch’s “Edward Hopper and the House by the Railroad” turned me into a big fan of literature that’s inspired by paintings. So I made a book-length version in prose form.
How many pieces are in the collection? We’d love to hear more about the collection and when it’s coming out.
100 flash fictions and prose poems make up the collection. Each microfiction in We Bury the Landscape corresponds to a piece of art I’ve indicated in the book. It’s not the most original of ideas, but I loved working on that book. While I was preparing the manuscript for Queen’s Ferry Press, I realized that those little stories were not based on those artworks at all; they more or less intimated on what I want those artworks to represent. The book will come out March or April, 2012.
Is there a general theme you found when putting together this collection?
Oh, yes. I did not plan it, but when I was assembling all the individual pieces into a full-length manuscript, I was surprised that most of them deal with issues about identity and end-of-the-world scenarios. The bulk of the pieces were written around the same time period, thus the predominance of certain themes.
You’re an incredibly accomplished and prolific writer. Do you have a writing schedule you adhere to?
Thank you for your kind words, Meg. I don’t have a definite writing schedule. I write whenever I feel like it, and fortunately (or unfortunately), I am almost always in the mood to write.
What books are you reading?
On my bedside table are Charles Freeland’s excellent Deviled Ham and a Picture of Jesus and Through the Funeral Mountains on a Burro, a 2009 back issue of Third Coast, and Peter Moore Smith’s Raveling – all of them in partly read stages.
Any recent books that have really inspired you that we should know about?
Most recently, I finished reading Strange Things and Stranger Places, a book of short stories by Ramsey Campbell. I’ve read almost all of his novels, and seeing how he does his short fiction is making me want to find out whatever it is that he smokes so I can get a little bit of his genius. His stories were always too ambitiously original, too risqué even for hardcore horror. And the prose – simply incredible.
What project are you working on at this time?
A book of short stories set in the fictional town of Outerbridge.