Aimee Bender's most recent book is Willful Creatures. She's been on my radio show; there's a show archived at http://writersonwriting.blogspot.com. Here's a short Q&A with Aimee:
BDB: Talk about how you create that fairy tale-like quality to your writing.
AB: It comes from an interest in words, in those words that are the building blocks of myth and fairy tales: castle, kingdom, moat, king, queen, dragon. I love those plain and vivid words and I'm always so delighted that I get to use them.
BDB: What were your favorite books as a kid, and what do you read now?
AB: I read a ton of fairy tales, and all the books, like The Phantom Tollbooth, Narnia, and L'Engle books, that were about another land, an alternate place. The adult versions of those books have been great to read too-- I read a wonderful book recently, by Edward Carey, Observatory Mansions, and Murakami's books are like that, and Isabel
Allende and GG Marquez create these shimmering, scary places that are real and magical at once.
BDB: You teach at University of Southern California. How do you teach writing?
AB: My main desire, as a teacher, is to push each writer more towards him/herself, to egg them towards particularity. I do think that's where the real juice is, and where a writer can tap into something that ends up feeling more expansive. What does that writer really want to write about? Not what they think will sound writerly, or fancy, but what are they actually interested in?
BDB: And how do you maintain your own writing schedule when you're busy with students' work?
AB: I work in the morning, two hours, that's the law.
BDB: What are you working on now--or are you hush-hush about works in progress for fear (like many of us) of letting air out of the project?
AB: I'm fairly hush-hush. I'm working on a novel-like thing -- how's that for vague??
BDB: What is the one thing you've done for yourself--and maybe continue to do--to keep yourself going as a writer?
AB: A regular routine. I'm a firm believer in structure, and that once a structure or a routine is set in place, then the creative part can loosen up.