Joan Hanna: We were delighted to have your short story “My Own Private Wind” in our April issue. This story deals with a woman moving on in the aftermath of the death of her husband. Can you share your inspiration for this story?
Lori D’Angelo: I wrote this story last year (in 2011) at a time in our lives when we were going through a lot of changes. We had just moved, and the same week we moved, our cat got really sick, and we had to put him to sleep. His death was so sudden and unexpected that it was really devastating. And then I started thinking about people I had known who had died suddenly and unexpectedly. And then the movie Ghost happened to be playing on TV. The story contains several very specific references to that movie, including in the opening line. So I guess it was a collision of various life forces coming together to inspire this story.
JH: Along with those serendipitous collisions, I’m sure there’s a certain amount of research that goes into your fiction. Would you talk a little bit about how you research your stories?
LD: For this particular story, I didn’t have to do much research. My aunt works at a bank, and I used to go there with her when I was little. Also, I have visited very sick people at various times in my life. When I can, I try to draw on experiences I already have. However, sometimes I will deliberately do research. For example, in March, I attended a gun show because I wanted to learn what that was like and better understand the mindset of one of my characters. I also use reader feedback or ask people who know about a particular subject to read it and see if I’m getting it right. I tend to worry about research. As a former journalist, I don’t want to get anything wrong.
JH: You received a grant from The Elizabeth George Foundation. How has receiving this grant affected your writing?
LD: I think the main thing is motivation. It’s really awesome to know that someone else believes in my writing enough to fund it. So that motivates me to think, I have to do this. I’m going to do this. I’m not going to give up.
JH: I understand you’re working on a novel. How different is approaching a novel from writing a short story?
LD: A novel is challenging. But it’s a challenge I think, I hope, I’m up for. When I was an MFA student, I tried to write a novel. Before I applied to my MFA program, I attempted a novel-in-stories. But I kept having problems with plot and building tension. With a novel, you need to keep introducing new characters and new plot points whereas with a story you can follow one plot point, one arc from beginning to end.
The Path of Irony, oil on canvas, by Darwin Leon.
JH: Do you have any links to your website or other work you would like to share with our readers?
LD: Yes, these are some stories that I’m particularly proud of:
“Mary Rice” from Stone’s Throw Magazine:
“I Met Death at the Patteson Drive Kroger” in Forge:
“Balloon Ride” in Drunken Boat:
JH: Lori, thank you for taking the time to discuss your writing with us today. I just have one final question, on a personal level, what does recovery mean to you?
LD: I’ve known a lot of people who have died. I think that as we become adults, this is obviously part of the process of life, losing people, grieving. When I was 21, I lost my grandmother. And this was a really hard loss for me. So with subsequent losses, I remember that one. I remember how I thought nothing would ever be the same again. I remember how I thought that nothing would ever be good. But then, eventually, it was. Even though life wasn’t the same, I was able to find joy in it after a time. I think that’s what “My Own Private Wind” is very much about–the ability to find life after death, which is also, coincidentally, one of the themes that I’m writing about in my novel. I guess I write about recovery a lot. It’s something that really interests me.