Interview with Alyssa Palazzo (2011)

Palazzo is a creative non-fiction panelist for the Long River Review.

Q: You write poetry, creative non-fiction, and fiction. What appeals to you about writing in the poetic form? In the prose form?

A lot of what I enjoy about form and content overlaps between prose and poetry.  When writing a poem, I like to focus on creating one strong vignette.  I want to produce something tactile and resonant, and I enjoy the challenge of accomplishing that in so few words.  When I write prose, I’m more focused on the narrative and characterization.  I love building scenes.  However, I like to stay concise in both forms.  Why waste words?

Q: You have a very confident voice for a young writer. What do you think has helped you developed your distinctly strong voice?

Lots of reading, writing, and learning.  Having taken creative writing courses since high school, I find that every instructor encourages you to build upon your skills in a different area.  After writing in several different forms, and reading hundreds of novels, I got an idea of what I wanted my own voice to sound like.  I’ve had these wonderful tutorials with writers such as Darcie Dennigan and Deb Olin Unferth and they have helped me hammer out a few of the weaknesses and inconsistencies in that voice.

Q: Would you say you have a particular style? How would you define it?

I wouldn’t say that I have one distinct style since every piece takes on its own.  However, when I write non-fiction, I write how I speak.  I like the idea of colloquial language. In fiction pieces, I take on more of a detached narration because I want my characters to speak for themselves.

Q: With what form of writing are you most comfortable? In which do you feel you need to improve?

Fiction is where I’m most comfortable.  Non-fiction is more difficult because it allows for a lot of vulnerability and honesty that the author can’t mask quite the way she can with fiction.  It’s a difficult feeling to overcome.  Poetry… is just difficult… but like I said, I embrace the challenge.

Q: The characters in your fiction are concrete, complex, and vulnerable. Are your characters inspired by people in real life or are they purely products of your imagination?

I’d like to think that my characters are honest and genuine.  That being said, no, they aren’t inspired by people in real life. I’d like to think that they all contain a certain side of me.

Q: Does anything in particular ignite your creativity?

I love Louise Glück’s poetry.  I always leave her work feeling that I will never produce anything good, ever, and completely inspired by her subtlety, her imagery, and her voice.

Fave Five:

1) Favorite Jane Austen Novel?

Today it’s Persuasion.

2) In a novel-to-film adaptation of your favorite Austen novel, who would you cast as the heroine?

So difficult.  Who could really capture Anne Elliot?  I think I’d have to cast Jane Austen herself.

3) Favorite literary magazine?

The Long River Review.  Duh.

4) Favorite place to write?

On my bed, under strings of Christmas lights (that I keep out all year round), with a bag of lollipops.  It’s pretty awesome.

5) Favorite quote?

“If you wanted to do something absolutely honest, something true, it always turned out to be a thing that had to be done alone.” – Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road


Interview by Lynnette Repollet

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