Susanne Davis is the author of The Appointed Hour (Cornerstone Press 2017), a linked short story collection and her first book. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, where her thesis won the Hemingway First Novel Award. Davis teaches creative writing at the University of Connecticut and via the Mark Twain House in Hartford, CT. Her stories and essays have appeared in American Short Fiction, Carve, Feminist Review, Harvard Law Bulletin, and elsewhere, including as a Special Mention story in Best American Short Stories 1998. She also self released the instructional writing book A Writer’s Voice: Indelible on the Page (Amazon Digital Services 2013).
Two nuns and a penguin approach you at a bar, and you tell them you’re a writer. When they ask you what you write about, how do you answer?
To the nuns I say my characters are people in the pricker bushes so to speak, Farmers, strippers, carpenters, tattoo artists—even a nun, Mother Agnes, who gave up Hollywood fame to marry God. They are all trying to make meaning of their lives. And I would tell them Mother Agnes was the last character created for my linked short story collection The Appointed Hour. With her authentic love for humanity, she tries to make a dramatic save in a corner of rural Connecticut where the wound of violence done in their midst hasn’t fully healed.
To the penguin, I would say I write about the environment and that my writing has a strong sense of place. The environment means a great deal to me and I would ask the penguin, who lives much closer to the humming tune of the earth than I, what more I can do to help? What stories need to be told that aren’t being told?
Points is a blog primarily for drug and alcohol historians. What do you think this audience would find most interesting about your work?
In my story collection, The Appointed Hour, a handful of stories have rural characters struggling with drugs and alcohol addiction and a sense of despair that brings them to the brink of self-destruction. The stories illuminate the damage done to others as a result. Often, though, in rural America, manual labor jobs and jobs on the land itself are like a redemptive act for those in the midst of struggle with addiction.