Interview with Jenny Forrester

In what ways is your writing conformist, and in what ways is it revolutionary?

I write stories about conformists because that’s the culture I was raised in. It’s revolutionary because I write from outside that culture now, but I keep in mind (and hopefully in the reader’s mind) the fact that this particular culture still exists and it’s still dangerous to women and girls and everyone else—except white males.  There, I said it.
What made you become a writer?

When I was called “trailer trash” or “white trash” or “slut,” I wrote all that in my diaries. I saw how the hurtfulness in those words lost their power on the page and the seeing of the truth of the intention behind those words and the reality of the bigger picture—yes, set me free.   I became a writer when my mom died and I wanted my daughter to know her grandmother.  I didn’t start writing fiction until a few years ago.  Fiction is like that spoonful of sugar that makes the truth go down and I do find noir to be especially delightful.

Ah, noir.  What’s not to love about it?  I’ve read a few of your noir pieces and think you’ve truly found your calling in the genre. What is it about noir that you find inspiring? And what is your drafting process like?

Thank you.  Noir offers a home for everything I shouldn’t say or wish or dream about because I’m a mom, a wife and a teacher and I have a dog.  My process involves going outside and watching the selfish people navigate their small worlds.  I like taking people out of their cars and making them walk or ride bicycles.  The stories flow from my memories of people and places.  My muse thinks of noir as recess – she likes getting even with all those bullies, their bullying parents and the authority figures who turned the other way.  She likes slicing up the true, but misapplied and abused, axiom that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.  And speaking of slicing, my muse really adores knives.

Is there any other era in human history in which you would have liked to live and write?

I always say that I should’ve been a hippie.  Instead I was a small-town girl who grew up Republican.  I’d make a lousy pacifist anyway.
How did “A Compatibilist Woman: Crime and Poetry” come into being?

A compatibilist woman is a combination of memories of Hunter Safety Class, hunting with my family, an abusive boyfriend and religious anxiety.  It was my idea of therapy.  I’m all better now.

Jenny Forrester

Jenny Forrester is the recent winner of Seattle’s Richard Hugo House New Works Competition with her essay, “An American Trailer Trash Childhood.” She gets lucky from time to time and a short fiction piece morphs out of her life experience and then falls from her pen and onto the page, like the blood that drips onto the red sandstone in the story “A Compatibilist Woman.”

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