down for an interview with Moira
Moira Crone is
an award-winning short story writer and novelist. She lives in New
Orleans. Her publications also include Dream State (stories); a novel,
A Period of Confinement, and The Winnebago Mysteries and Other Stories.
Her fiction has been published in numerous magazines, including The New
Yorker and Ploughshares.
What Gets Into Us (University of Mississipi
Nuala Ní Chonchúir
Dream State (University of Mississipi
The Winnebago Mysteries and Other Stories
(Fiction Collective 2, 1982)
with Moira Crone
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Moira Crone: Some
of them, I originally wrote as scenes of a larger work, which I began
in the late 1980’s’, which I thought was going to be a novel. But, as
stories, about five years, starting in 1998 or so.
TSR: Did you
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
MC: When I wrote the
story called Where
What Gets Into People Comes From, I realized I had a lot
of ideas for stories set in small town North Carolina, in the U.S, a
town like the one where I grew up. I had not written them before, and,
the perspective of that story, which is the last one in the book, is
one that made the other stories possible.
TSR: How did
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
MC: This is a cycle
of stories. Characters in every story reappear in others.
In part, I knew that the story Where What Gets Into People Come
From, would be either the first or the last. When I
wrote The Ice
Garden, since it was the longest story, I thought it also
was going to be the first or the last. Where What.. spans
childhood and goes forward to adulthood. Ice Garden, to a
lesser extent, inscribes a woman in adulthood who remembers her
mother’s death when she was eleven, so both have that sense of being
memories recalled from a distance, by middle-aged people in the
present. All the others in some sense, are “voices from the shared
past,” you could say, of the two central characters, Lily and Claire.
The two stories that tell of things as remembered in the present are
the pillars that support the other tales. In between those two
time-spanning stories, the others are more or less chronological.
does the word "story"
mean to you?
a story, the goal is to craft something that mimics the consciousness’s
grasp of existence, something invisible, as a memory is invisible, has
no physical existence, and yet can be so powerful. A memory always has
a feeling attached to it, a charge. Narrative’s task is to render
events as lived, including the feeling and the judgment of the event,
that "charge." I am speaking here of the ideal of story, even before it
is born in language.
I guess I would go with E. M. Forster, or at least with the wisdom I
always attribute to him, as to what a story is. An anecdote is a
rendering of a series of events, of course, in time and space. A story,
which contains an anecdote but is more, describes not only the life in
time but, as well, the “life by values." ( Forster’s term) Kabbalists
say that events are to be designated to be located, so to speak, with
reference to ten directions in the space-time continuum: up-down,
north-south, east-west, before-after, and distance or nearness to chaos
or order (or good or evil). All successful stories end on a note that
in some sense informs the reader about the judgment of the events in
the narrator’s view, or sets things up so the reader makes her
judgment, applies her values---there is not only event, there is event
plus the feeling about the event, the worth. A story is an anecdote
“located” in a cosmological sense. We know what happened, where and
when and what order, and we know if it was nearer to chaos or to order,
if the teller found it to be good, bad, or neutral, what the teller
felt it really meant, what was significant about it.
TSR: Do you
have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?
I always feel that I am telling a story aloud to a person when I write.
I always read my stories aloud and imagine someone can hear me. That is
part of the reason so many of my stories are in first person. Sometimes
I switch to third person so the narrator can say something the first
person can’t, because she or he doesn’t know it, but I always hear
stories in first person.
TSR: Is there
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection,
anything at all?
MC: I think I would
like an answer to this question: Did you want to know more about the
group of people who inhabited this collection? What? For there are more
stories that could have been included, that I have worked on since. The
book could be bigger, I think. I am expanding it at the present time. I
could write about these characters for a long time.
TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your books?
MC:I am happy to
know people are reading my works. I want more people to read them. I
like to talk to my readers. Stories are letters to them, communication
TSR: What are
you working on now?
MC: I am turning a
story set in North Carolina into a novel. Also, I live in New Orleans,
and have since before Katrina. It is a very complex place to live since
the storm. Sometimes I write pieces about the city.
TSR: What are
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
read recently, Drinking
, By ZZ Packer, Scent of Cinnamon
by Charles Lambert, some works in
Cutting the Night In Two, Stories
by Irish Women Writers.
Also, stories by Marly Swick, in
The Summer Before the Summer of Love
, and I Sailed With Magellan
by Stuart Dybek.