INTERVIEW: CRIS MAZZA
What's the one novel you've read that best exemplifies what a novel could be instead of what it should be?
The Sleeping Father by Matthew Sharpe, Soft Skull Press.
You have been writer-in-residence at several universities and currently direct the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois-Chicago. What does a university environment afford creative writers that they can't get anywhere else?
A community of other serious writers, all working in different literary styles and genres. Having more than one perspective is crucial. Sometimes experimental writers want to put blinders on and only associate with "their own kind." Maybe "it takes a village to develop a writer."
The bulk of your published work is in fiction, but with Indigenous you produced a wonderful collection of essays about growing up in southern California. In your creative process, where is that magic line between what's fictive and what's remembered?
The grey area between the two includes what aspects of lived life I make choices to fictionalize, and what choices I make when fictionalizing (*how* I fictionalize -- what's added, deleted, altered, and details of alterations, including language and imagery) say as much about the lived life and the psychology of the writer, as they do when the self-enclosed fiction is looked at as an entity. Fictionalizing is choices; that's the magic line. (I've written a hybrid memoir that uses excerpts from fiction and analysis of choices I made when fictionalizing to tell "the author's" story.)
CRIS MAZZA is author of 14 books of fiction, a collection of personal essays, and a hybrid memoir.