It's December 13. Caroline Adderson, author of The Sky Is Falling and Ellen in Pieces, only steals office supplies discretely.
How would you describe your story?
CAROLINE ADDERSON: It’s an experiment in form.
When did you write it, and how did the writing process compare to your other work?
CA: This isn’t a new story. It was originally published in The New Quarterly in 2004, but not included my next collection, Pleased to Meet You (2006). The process was accidental. I had a dear friend, a teaching colleague, who died of a brain aneurism at the age of 45. She wasn’t Renata, but a little like her—funny, outspoken, unflappable. So unflappable she once hitchhiked to university with a man who wasn’t wearing any pants, an incident I use in the story. Even though I meant the story as something of a tribute to my friend, I worried that people would think she’d also done the more outlandish thing that Renata does. I also felt in a quandary because I couldn’t get my friend’s permission to use a true incident from her life. The easiest way to deal with these problems was to change Renata’s ethnicity so no one would recognize my friend. I tried Italian, but she still seemed too real, so I tried another. Before I knew it, I was writing metafiction—my first and likely my last attempt.
What kind of research went into this story?
CA: I was an ESL teacher for more than a dozen years. Vancouver is full of ESL “colleges,” some of them appalling, scams nearly, others decent places. In either case, they are story troves. This is loosely based on a school I worked in.
What, to you, makes the short story a special form? What can it do that other kinds of writing can't?
CA: It allows a fiction writer to feel like she could be a poet.
Where can people go to learn more about you and your writing?
What's on your Christmas list this year?
CA: No presents please. Just parties.
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