Leather-Bound Reads: Interview with Lara Williams, author of Treats!

treats

images taken from google
images taken from google

It’s no secret that one of the best reads of the year so far for me is the short story collection Treats by Lara Williams. Most stories are only a few pages long, but are packed with the harsh realities of being a grown, modern woman in today’s society. Tackling subjects like dating, love, sex, children, and so much more Lara Williams creates a league of her own with Treats.

Recently, I was contacted by Freight Books and asked if I would be interested in seeing Williams speak at the Edinburgh International Book Festival – and doing an interview too! Of course, I jumped at the chance to see and speak to one of my new favourite authors.

Leather-Bound: How did you start writing Treats, and how long was the process?

Lara Williams: I started writing Treats a couple years ago now. It took me in total, about a year to write, and then a little more time spent sharpening it up. I began with the very first story in the collection; I hadn’t really written much, or indeed any, short fiction previously but I suddenly felt I understood the form. I’d been reading a lot of contemporary short fiction writers who made me think differently about it; writers such as Grace Paley and Mary Gaistkill. I was also a at peculiar point in my life. I’d broken up from essentially the only relationship of my adult life, I’d quit playing and touring with my band, I’d moved into a flat on my own. I went from being surrounded by lots of people all the time to suddenly being acutely alone and so writing became a really therapeutic way of dealing with that.

 

LB: What is your writing process (any rituals or must-haves)?

LW: I tend to write short stories from the inside out. I usually have a handful of sentences I like and then I stitch the narrative around that. I think I’m quite a “sentence-level” writer as opposed to a conceptual or idea writer. I’m more interested in the texture and feel of a story or a character. In terms of ritual, I tend to write in intense and focussed bursts, then suddenly my concentration goes and I can’t manage anything other than like, staring at a wall. I actually spend a lot of time staring at a wall / walls in general.

 

LB: Who are some of your favourite authors? Did you find that they’re writing came through in yours?

LW: My favourite writers are probably Lorrie Moore, David Foster Wallace, Grace Paley, Nabokov… I recently discovered Maggie Nelson and might have to add her to the list, too.

 

LB: You were a drummer in a band (completely amazing by the way – I play drums and wanted to be the next Sandy West) – do you listen to music while you write?

LW: I am a terrible drummer! Think I am less Sandy West more latter day Moe Tucker (minus the extreme right politics). I struggle to listen to music when I write, I find it really distracting. Literally the only band I can listen to while writing is Stars Of The Lid.

 

LB: Do you think music influenced your writing in any way (since they are so often linked)?

LW: I think being and touring with a band seemed like this really naive fantasy come true, which sort of validated perusing writing seriously. I don’t think music has ever particularly influenced my writing but it certainly made it seem somehow more accessible.

 

LB: What are you currently reading?

LW: I am currently flip-flopping between a cultural history of the TV show Seinfeld (Seinfeldia) and a collection of essays about women working in silent cinema (Silent Women Pioneers Of Cinema). I actually made a new year’s resolution to read more non-fiction this year so I’m slowly educating myself.

 

xx,

T

Book Depository

Very special thank you to Freight Books for making this possible.