I want to thank Paula for letting me interview her! Read more about Paula and her work here!
What was the first story that you remember writing about?
I kept a journal as far back as I can remember, but I remember my first attempt at fiction my junior year of high school in a creative writing course. I remember being thrilled but don’t remember what is was about. Probably about an angst-filled teenage girl wronged by the world.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was twelve I announced to my parents I wanted to be a truck driver; I wanted an eighteen wheeler. This was met with solemn faces because both of my parents were teachers and scholars. I had elaborate details–in my mind–of what my own cab would look like. It was very cozy, a nice bed, pretty things on the walls. In some ways, it exemplifies a few aspects of my personality–I’m a serious nester, but wildly restless, and I have always had a wacky imagination. After that I wanted to be a practicing Psychologist. There were some other dreams of future careers but then at twenty-two, I settled on writing.
Do you think writing is something instinctive, a taught skill, or both? Why?
I think writing is learned by reading a lot (and I mean a lot) and paying attention to structure and content–and writing a lot. Feedback can be helpful or hurtful. But at some point if you write, you want readers, so the feedback is going to come. I did get an MA in Creative Writing and English at City College in New York and it was wonderful. I’m a fan of all kinds of education.
What was your least favorite class at any point in your education? Why?
Hm. Gym in 5th grade for sure was the worst experience ever. In high school I was a dismal Physics student; I still feel badly about that because my professor was kind and enthusiastic and I would just fall asleep. In college I took one philosophy course on Existentialism because I’d already been reading a bunch of the philosophers from that “school.” My professor bored the crap out of me, I got a C, and mostly napped. I’m a big napper.
Are you reading anything right now?
I just finished the most excellent anthology, Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives, edited by Sarah Weinman. So many forgotten female writers who had amazing careers and were as dark as one can be.
Are you writing anything right now?
I’m working on some stories and essays. I hope to either tackle revising a novel or finish a broad outline of another once things quiet down for me. I usually have a few things going on, but many get put away for some time and often I have to focus on just one thing, especially if I have a deadline!