Interviewed by Sommer Schafer
Read Avra Margariti’s fiction piece, Clover
Sommer: What a stunning story. It is beautifully complex, but at its core it is a real-life love story. Do you have any favorite love/relationship stories? Who are they by? What makes them exceptional to you?
Avra: Thank you for your kind words. I can’t say I read a lot of romance. Mostly I just enjoy seeing interesting dynamics and unconventional relationships explored in literature.
This is a very short story, yet by the end of it, I feel as if I’ve gone quite a distance with this narrator, fully absorbed in her world. How do you approach writing a story this short while also managing to evoke so much? When do you know to stop writing into a story?
My characters are born first, while the setting comes at a later stage. I place the characters in various hypothetical scenarios before I settle on a plot that suits them, and in the process I gain insight into who they are and what drives them. I believe that, in order to write evocative micro-fiction, a writer must know more than what they reveal to the readers and perhaps allow the readers to fill in some of the blanks themselves.
Do you have a writing regiment or routine? What are you working on these days?
I’ve conditioned myself to write every day, and as a result my academic life is suffering. So, lately, I’ve been trying not to measure my worth as a writer by how productive I’ve been in a day. My new routine is no routine.
A friend pointed out that a lot of my stories involve anthropomorphic animals. Right now I’m working on a series of magical realism short stories in which animals are intrinsic to the plot. Other themes include grief, penance, and freedom.
Do you have any advice for writers on handling rejection?
I’ve been submitting my work to literary magazines for a little over a year. What I hadn’t really anticipated was the number of rejections I would get. (Spoiler alert: it’s a triple-digit). But, I’ve also received many acceptance letters (er, e-mails). I think the submission process, though infinitely rewarding, can be frustrating at times. My advice to writers is this: be patient, and be grateful. An editor is probably reading your work as we speak. An acceptance may bring instant gratification, but a rejection indicates that there’s still room for your beautiful writing to flourish.
Who are some of your favorite writers? Why?
I like authors such as Haruki Murakami, Franz Kafka, and A. S. King because their work has multiple possible interpretations. Lately, I’ve also been on a Neil Gaiman and Catherynne M. Valente spree. They know how to write memorable characters in immersive fantasy settings.
Thank you so much for doing this interview with me, and congratulations!
Thank you! It’s been a pleasure.