“Unnerve thyself: the violent and enthralling short stories in Trailer Girl detonate on contact,” wrote Vanity Fair about Terese Svoboda‘s third book of fiction, out in paper last fall. A “fabulous fabulist” according to PW, Vogue lauded her first novel, Cannibal, as a female Heart of Darkness. 2010 and 2011 will see her fifth and sixth novels. Also the author of five books of poetry, she’s teaching fiction at Columbia University’s School of the Arts this spring.

Q (Meg Pokrass): What story or book do you feel closest to?

I would sleep with Calvino anytime.

Do you have a mentor?

I’ve always responded to No. An instructor at Columbia told me to stop writing poetry because my biography was too much like a woman he’d picked for a prize. A fiction editor of the Paris Review told me poets couldn’t write fiction. Even after I’d published six books, my father said I should really try real estate. Just say No and I’ll say Yes.

How do you stay creative? What are your tricks to get “unstuck?”

It’s embarrassing to say that I don’t get stuck. There’s so much pleasure in writing, why would I not want to? It’s so hard to fight for time, I practically beat up the computer when I get to it. If someone says No to me over and over in one genre, I try another.Okay, so if I can’t figure out plot-that evil necessity in fiction-I freewrite around it for ten minutes. Something always occurs.

What are your favorite websites?

The Rumpus. Afghan Women’s Writing Project. Fictionaut. Diagram.

What is happening right now that you would like to share in your writing world?

I’m all excited about teaching fiction at Columbia where I received my MFA so long ago. A dream (see above) come true.

Can you tell us a bit about your novels? How did they come to you what inspired them…

It took fifteen years to write my first novel Cannibal. I was (am) a poet, I didn’t know how to construct sentences, let alone stories. I wrote over a hundred short stories until I wrote a publishable one (see above writing group for patience). But once I had the power–beware! My favorite novel is Tin God because it’s funny. At least I think it’s funny. The last ten pages are all black with white type so maybe it’s not that funny. Pirate Talk or Mermalade, which is coming out this September, is a fluke, written all in dialogue. It was an exercise that overcame me. Bohemian Girl comes out in 2010 to tweak Willa Cather. Being from Nebraska, I’ve always resented her as a usurping Virginian.

I bet you have an exciting tidbit to end this with? Any new pubs?

One Story has just published me. Hooray!.

The Fictionaut Five is our ongoing series of interviews with Fictionaut authors. Every Wednesday, Meg Pokrass asks a writer five (or more) questions. Meg is an editor at Smokelong Quarterly, and her stories and poems have been published widely. She blogs at http://megpokrass.com.

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