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Moira Crone

Website: MoiraCrone.com

scroll 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.

Short story collections

What Gets Into Us (University of Mississipi Press, 2006) 

Reviewed by Nuala Ní Chonchúir

Dream State (University of Mississipi Press, 1998) 

The Winnebago Mysteries and Other Stories (Fiction Collective 2, 1982) 

Interview with Moira Crone

The Short Review: 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.

TSR: What does the word "story" mean to you?

MC:  With 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?

MC:  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 with them.

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?

MC: I have read recently, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, 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.