Interview with Lori D’Angelo


What is a current project that you’re working on?

I’ve been watching a lot of scifi television like Travelers, an excellent time travel show on Netflix; and Battlestar Galactica, the reboot, which is just so thoughtful and relevant. I’d like to think this is leading to something rather than just endless hours of procrastination. My work is often inspired by popular culture and I like to keep current. I’ve referenced comic books, TV shows, actors, and songs in my work. One possible project I’m pursuing is a YA novel about a girl trying to figure out if she’s a witch or just a normal girl. Like a lot of scifi, it has some strong political elements. I really like reading, writing, and watching art that features strong female characters like Kat in Travelers and Caprica Six in Battlestar Galactica.

What is the piece of writing advice that you have received, good or bad, that has impacted you the most?

Maybe read everything. I don’t think you should confine yourself to literary fiction or the genre of the moment. You can find some really good stuff in hidden and unexpected places including genre writing. I think there’s some good stuff in horror, in scifi, in popular books from the 1970s that a lot of people aren’t reading. You don’t want to write like every other hip writer out there today. To develop your style, I think it’s important to read widely and across time. Read the classics but also the stuff that speaks to you and your unique life experiences. What do you love, and why? Who else is doing that, and what can you learn from them?

What are the greatest influences on your writing, whether other writers or outside influences? 

I think I’ve been influenced by one of my fiction writing teachers, Mark Brazaitis. I love the magic and the mystery in his work. I’m also a huge fan of Tom Perrotta. I will read anything by him. I love Aimee Bender. I love Jane Austen. I’m a huge fan of Wonder Woman. I loved The X-Files. I think growing up Catholic definitely shaped me. I believe that miracles are real and can happen. I like to write about seemingly impossible experiences. I like to ask myself: What if this could happen? What if this character could see a ghost? What if someone could come back from the dead? What if a man was told to build an ark, and he did it in the present day?

What was the inspiration for this piece? Is this a common thread through your writing, or is this experimental in some way? 

I like to write about magic happening in ordinary places–the grocery store, the drug store, a parking garage. I like to put people in ordinary situations and then make something really unexpected happen. I have definitely felt at times like I am not the pretty girl but the smart one, so I wanted to explore that from the perspective of the main character in this story, who is a bookworm like me. I also wanted to write about being genuine versus being superficial. I’m really interested in characters having genuine experiences.

Do you have a favorite place to write, or are there any habits, inspirations, or rituals that help you? 

I’m a horrible procrastinator. I go through long periods without writing anything, and then I write a whole bunch. I wish I could write daily. I feel like I should. I’ll go through through super productive periods and super unproductive ones. Going to the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences was helpful. I ended up writing a short story that I really liked there and some poems. I also find writing conferences to be inspiring. Sometimes, I’ll just get inspired in the middle of a session and then go somewhere and write. I also sometimes am inspired by writing prompts and have gotten some really good stories out of them. Sometimes, I’ll look for themed calls for submissions and use them as prompts. I’ve gotten some good work done that way as well.

Can you recommend one book that you think everyone should read and tell us why?

I love Pride and Prejudice, and I’ve read that book again and again because it constantly surprises me. But I feel like everyone has already read that. But I’d like to recommend something else: Shirley Jackson–The Haunting of Hill House–because it’s just really really memorable. It sticks with you. I don’t think the people should overlook horror novels and genre fiction. I read that book recently, and I can’t stop thinking about it. Shirley Jackson is just a master of creating interesting and complex characters, and her work holds up so well. I feel like she really understands humans and human motivation.