Q & A with Our Journal Contributor T Kira Madden

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1. If you were reviewing your own work, how would you describe its style or point of view? 

I think I might probably say, “This writer does not like to stay put, and it’s dizzying.” I have a tendency to move around a lot in my writing—it is difficult for me to drop and linger (especially when I should). If there are several players on stage, and there usually are, I want to know what everyone is up to. I like finding the energy between characters and their transitional pickups. I like everyone’s secrets to be told. On the page, I aim for mania.

On a better day, I might say, “These stories made me laugh, but left me feeling very hopeless and alone,” because, as a writer, finding some humor in the great tragedy of being alive is really what I reach for.   

2. Who are some of your favorite contemporary authors?

I feel most excited by writers who defy every “rule of writing.” I probably look to Anne Carson and Lynda Barry the most – no one can do anything like them and everybody tries. Susan Steinberg for her relentlessness, Christine Schutt for her heart, Noy Holland’s levitation-worthy sentences. I’ve got a weakness for the way David Hollander can spin a story and no list of the contemporary greats would be complete without Anne-E. Wood.

3. If you were told you couldn't write anymore, what job would you pursue and why?

I would love to design magic tricks for a living. I spend a good deal of time dreaming up the concepts and mechanics of a trick (or breaking down how I believe one has been done), and the only thing I love more than a perfect illusion is figuring it out and then doing it myself.  

Magic is a lot like writing. When done the right way, both appear to be effortless, or as if they’ve just existed in their current form for all of time. But when you love a craft enough, saying Wow from the other side of the curtain or page, that mysterious pop and thrill, it’s no longer enough—one feels they must understand the technicalities, identify each and every string behind it. This does not break the spell but really only enhances it.

4. When you think of Austin, what comes to mind?

(Because I’ve never been to your great city of Austin, this is what I got):

My first crush’s name was Austin. We both rode horses and competed against one another in the 90’s show circuit. He rode a pony named Tchotchke and beat me in the Florida state finals. I imagined us growing old in matching jodhpurs, opening up a ranch and baling hay, but nothing like that ever happened. I never told Austin that I loved him but I carved his name into the underbelly of my wooden tack box with a rusted up nail. You see, I’ve been heartbroken all my life. Austin was something like the beginning.

5. Answer the question you wish we had asked.

I wish you had asked me to dinner tonight. I’ve got nowhere to go, but I am sometimes good company.