Lorraine López is the author of six books of fiction and has served as editor or co-editor of three essay collections, including The Afro-Hispanic Review. Her collection Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Prize in Fiction in 2010. She reads Tuesday night at Murray State University as part of the MFA Reading Series. On Sounds Good, Tracy Ross speaks with López about fairy tales, approach to writing, teaching other writers and her new book The Darling.
Lorraine López gives a reading tomorrow night at 7:30 in the Clara M. Eagle Gallery located on the campus of Murray State University. The free event is part of the MFA Reading Series and is open to the public. A signing and reception follows the reading.
Having taught in the MFA program, López says she is looking forward to coming back to Murray State. She is Associate Professor of English in the MFA Creative Writing program at Vanderbilt University.
Early in life, López developed a love for reading and writing from fairy tales and folk tales. She says she loved the experience of feeling transported to an imaginary world. Growing up with a love for Louisa May Alcott and Judy Blume, she wanted to write in the young adult genre. Once a middle school teacher, she found there were no novels her ESL students could really relate to, with characters that were like them, and was determined to write for them.
Since then, she has published several books, ranging in style and audience. Her favorites change from time to time, she says, feeling most connected now to Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories. The connecting thread of this work is the story of people who gather together after losing loved onces from homicide, trying to put their lives back together after a tragic loss.
When it comes to writing, López says she's more interested in the arc and shape of the story and doesn't always know the ending. She likens the approach to an architect knowing they're building a bank but not a church. Stories can be triggered by image or a phrase and is worked out in her mind through the writing process. As a teacher of writing, she likes to show students shortcuts and things they need to master to get them where they need to be.
As an associate editor for The Afro-Hispanic Review, she comes across many exciting Hispanic and Latino writers who tend to be different than the mainstream writers. Some of her stand-outs are experimental writer Daniel Chacón, prose stylist Joy Castro, Sandra Cisneros and Judith Ortiz Cofer.
At the MFA Reading, she'll read from her new novel, The Darling. It's a fun book with moments of humor, she says. The main character is enamored by white male classic authors like Henry James, D.H. Lawrence, Vladimir Nabokov, Gustave Flaubert and William Shakespeare. She falls in love with these writers and they begin to have an influence on her own love life and decisions. On one hand, this prevents her from settling for things that don't match the literary ideals of love and on the other hand she's granting these men authority to tell her how to live - as though they are experts on how a young woman should love instead of deciding for herself how to do things. López says she's fascinated by the idea of these male authors cross-dressing and articulating through a female perspective in their work, from Lolita to Madame Bovary.