Q&A with author Alana I. Capria

December 7, 2016

 

Q: When did you start writing and what sparked the interest?

 

AIC: I started writing when I was about five or six years old after reading Christina's Ghost by Betty Ren Wright. It was the first real ghost story I had ever read and I thought it was so exciting that I needed to write my own. Shortly after that, I read The Ghost in the Bell Tower by Francine Pascal and that was it. I've been my version of ghost stories ever since.

 

Q: Who is your 90s rap/pop/rock spirit animal?

 

AIC: Celine Dion.

 

Q: Is most of your work dark?

 

AIC: Much to my family's chagrin, it is. I'm not very good at writing rainbows and butterflies; I like a happy ending but know that getting there is often rough. Plus, the whole allure of a ghost story is that it's dark.

 

Q: What was the first novel you read that really hit you?

 

AIC: There Is No Year by Blake Butler really changed how I approached my writing. I was used to traditional novel structure and Butler's novel was so different from anything I had read before. The narrative is somewhat fragmented and very surreal. It's a haunted house story but instead of ghosts, the family members are haunted by the past, as well as themselves. It's one of several novels that inspired me to switch from writing short stories to novels.

 

Q: What inspires you most (people, places, circumstances, etc.)?

 

AIC: I draw a lot of inspiration from mythology and fairy tales. I'm also inspired by the suburbs and the notion of domesticity. I think households and small towns have their own sort of horror to them. Outwardly, they seem almost perfect but when you're inside them, you see just how rotten they are.

 

Q: If you came upon a family of six injured sloths (mama, papa and four kids) and the only way they would survive was that you took them home and raised them as your children, what would you name them?

 

AIC: Chloe, Anubis, Penelope, Percy, Mortimer, and Anastasia, respectively.

 

Q: Is there a general message or vibe you tend to place within you work?

 

AIC: I don't know if I consciously put a message in my work but I would say that the overall vibe is sort of a surreal nightmare.

 

Q: Tacos or burgers?

 

AIC: Veggie burgers with jalapeños and pickles. But even better than burgers are nachos with extra beans, cheese, and jalapeños. I like my food spicy.

 

Q: When in hand-to-paw combat with a bear it is always wise to…?

 

AIC: Scream and find a branch to swing. The goal is to intimidate the bear into thinking you're too insane to be bothered with.

 

Q: Who are some of the authors you admire, and why?

 

AIC: Angela Carter: I love how bloody, eloquent, and dangerous her fairy tales are (read her collection The Bloody Chamber —the title story is a twist on the Bluebeard fairy tale. I also love her novel The Magic Toyshop). Blake Butler: for all the reasons listed in question #3. Russell Edson: I love how slippery, funny, and creepy his prose poems are (read "Ape" and "The Bridge"). Shirley Jackson: I love The Haunting of Hill House but read We Have Always Lived in a Castle, which is delightfully claustrophobic, shadowy, and frightening. Unica Zürn: she was a surrealist who wrote about her struggles with depression and there's nothing more terrifying than being exposed to another person's demons.

 

Q: What’s been the biggest challenge for you as a writer (work itself, publishing, marketing, etc.)?

 

AIC: I've never felt comfortable marketing my work. I prefer writing and submitting.

 

Q: What does your day-to-day look like?

 

AIC: I write every day. On days I work, I try to write at least 500 words. During days off, my word quota is at least 1,000 and I also send out submissions. I prefer writing in the morning and late at night. Sometimes I'll wake up around four or five in the morning and write a scene before heading back to bed. When I'm not writing, I'm reading.

 

Q: Where would you like to see yourself, in regards to writing, go in the future?

 

AIC: I just want to keep writing the kinds of ghost stories I enjoy reading.

 

Q: In the summer after the ninth grade, what was your jam?

 

AIC: That was 2000 and I'm drawing a blank on what I used to listen to. I remember some generic pop and hip-hop of the top 100 variety. I would say one of my favorite songs was "Maria Maria" by Santana.

 

Q: What’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen?

 

AIC: It's a three-way tie: The Happening, Flash Gordon, and Hulk. I would describe all three as uncomfortably bizarre, terrifying, and boring. I questioned all my life choices during the first one, considered the second psychological torture, and fell into a deep, nightmarish slumber during the third.

 

Q: If you could visit anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?

 

AIC: Cuba (I'm of Cuban descent), or Spain (I traveled through Spain during my sophomore year of high school and have wanted to return).

 

Q: Summer Olympics or Winter Olympics?

 

AIC: This is a hard one. It's a matter of gymnastics versus ice skating. I have to go with the Winter Olympics. Ice-skating is amazing and I read so many books about ice-skating when I was a kid.

 

Q: What life experience has the biggest impact on your writing?

 

AIC: My uncle died suddenly when I was 15. We were very close and I had a difficult time coping with his passing. After his death, my writing no longer felt as frivolous as it was. There was finally emotion in it. I wanted to say something, to work through my grief, even if it was in the guise of terrifying my readers and myself.

 

Q: If you could grow an extra body part, what would it be?

 

AIC: A third eye might not be so bad.

 

Q: What are you working on now?

 

AIC: I'm starting a new novel about a woman living alone in a dark house. Her family might be there somewhere, she never sleeps, and there's nothing outside, nothing at all. Also, there's possibly a funeral. Scratch that. Definitely, a funeral.

 

Alana I. Capria is the author of the story collection Wrapped in Red (Montag Press, 2014), the novel Hooks and Slaughterhouse (Montag Press, 2013) and the chapbooks Organ Meat, Killing Me (Turtleneck Press, 2012) and Lilith (dancing girl press, 2015). She resides in Northern New Jersey with her husband and rabbit. Capria can be contacted at alanacapria at aim dot com. 

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Unnerving 
Powell River, British Columbia, Canada
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