Author Kathya Alexander discusses her writing process and inspiration behind her short story “My Daddy Dead,” included in our 5th issue.
Interview conducted by the Arkana Staff
A: What came first for you when you began writing “My Daddy Dead”— the setting of a church on Sunday morning, the situation of family tension and words unspoken, the character of the wounded child, or something else?
KA: The image of the father having a heart attack in the pulpit of the church he pastored just as he had his hands raised for the benediction came first.
A: What is your “go to” place, either physically or creatively, that assists you in beginning a project? What triggers your writing?
KA: I tell stories monthly at a Starbucks in Seattle, and all the storytellers write on a particular theme. That theme usually guides me at the beginning. In other cases, the trigger begins with something I am curious about or want to explore more fully.
A: When writing “My Daddy Dead,” did you hear this as a spoken word performance prior to its present written, textual form?
KA: I “hear” everything I write as I write it, so I guess I write all of my stories to be spoken word performances.
A: What techniques did you employ to keep the rhyme sounding natural rather than forced or sing-songy in “My Daddy Dead”?
KA: Again, I hear my stories as I write them and, even though they rhyme, what I hear is the story. I use the online rhyming dictionary quite liberally when I’m stuck on a line of the story where I can’t think of a rhyme. At the same time, quite often the rhyme dictates what comes next in the story.
A: Any recent publications you’re especially proud of?
KA: I am especially proud of being published in Arkana because I grew up in Arkansas, and this feels like coming home. I will be published in an upcoming issue of The Pitken Review, so stay tuned! “My Daddy Dead” is one of the stories in a collection of short stories entitled Angel in the Outhouse which is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Angel-Outhouse-Kathya-Alexander/
Read Kathya Alexander’s “My Daddy Dead” in Arkana Issue 5!