“Something That Looks Like a Story”

Jessica Wilbanks

Feb 11, 2020

SelenaFor my latest “Craft Club” interview over at Catapult, I interviewed the amazing fiction writer (and my fellow UH alum) Selena Anderson. We unpacked the process that she went through to write “Godmother Tea,” which you can read online in its entirety at Oxford American. 

When I asked Selena about the first glimmer of the story, she talked about this big gold mirror that ended up birthing the rest of the piece.

When I started writing, I was thinking about Joy and the furniture in her apartment, about what it looks like when she’s alone in there. I was also thinking about how objects tend to take on the personality of the person who uses them. I imagined her standing in front of this huge mirror with a gold edge and these little feet on it . . . 

Once I had the mirror and put it in scene with Joy, everything started happening. I understood what she was going to do, how she felt about herself, the way she talked to herself. I could see her sizing herself up.

I loved the way Selena talked about the process of finding that mirror and putting it into scene. It feels so true, in both nonfiction and fiction: story doesn’t come alive unless you fully commit to a highly specific world.

Here’s the full interview!