Interview with Dylan Landis

At the r.kv.r.y. blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

MA: I’ve read that you feel one of your themes to be “the redemptive power of art.” I love that. It makes so much sense to me, but I’m wondering if you could extrapolate on that for our readers.

DL: I’ll say this inadequately, as neither a scholar nor an artist. I’m an ex-newspaper reporter who spent thirteen years getting her first book of fiction out.

Art requires so much discipline, and receptivity; and in return it connects you with humanity, and transcends what is mundane about humanity, too. This may sound crazy, but striving for all of that makes me feel forgiven, like I have a right to be here after all. Just the act of reading and writing, or answering your questions and looking up what Chekhov said about being cold, bonds me with other souls who care about story, books, language, a higher purpose. I need that. And I need to write about people who don’t yet realize what it means to be touched by that.

Of course I may be producing absolute dreck while rereading Faulkner or Toni Morrison. But as long as I show up, I’m plugging into something larger and more vibrant than anything else I could probably manage to do.

So I wish that for my characters. I see art—and science too; think of Andrea Barrett’s work—as a driving force for some of them, or as a real lack in their lives. Remember that art can be provocative, and artists troubled. The possibilities in fiction are intense.