INTERVIEW WITH BECKY KLING
Rappahannock Review Nonfiction Editors: We love how your piece “Afternoons in the Graveyard” shows the connection between the living and the dead through the physical space of cemeteries. What started your fascination with writing about death?
Becky Kling: I used to be terrified of graveyards and death, but after my father passed away, death actually seemed less scary to me. I was grieving, but the need to reflect on that through my writing was natural and even welcome. With the collective grieving (or lack thereof) during the pandemic, this calling came to me again.
RR: In your piece, you mention several figures, from Jill Lepore to Abraham Lincoln. Could you talk about your choice to reference these people and their works?
BK: Though I allude to other cultures, this piece is rooted in American culture and how our prevailing views about life and death have impacted me. Jill Lepore is an amazing historian of the United States, and Abraham Lincoln was president during another period of collective mourning, so both of these figures were a good fit.
RR: As someone who has also written poetry, how is the writing process different from nonfiction? Do you have a specific genre you prefer to write in?
BK: Poetry always used to be my go-to. My oldest journals are filled with many pages of bad poetry that I cherish. I still love poetry but write more non-fiction now. My favorite prose is lyrical, poetic, and hybrid anyway, so I think the line between the two is whatever you want to make it.
RR: We see that you have published works relating to motherhood. How does being a mother influence your writing?
BK: Becoming a mother made me excited about documenting the mundane, something I hadn’t experienced so intensely since I was young. This inspired me to pursue creative writing more seriously, which I had no time for, and what could possibly be more perfect than deciding to pursue something when you no longer have time for it?
RR: As someone who has written multiple pieces over the years, what’s the most important writing lesson you’ve learned?
BK: The memoirist Roxane Gay says that she imagines no one is ever going to read her writing. While this is quite often true for me, now that I have started to publish more, I find it helpful to keep this uninhibited approach, especially in those early stages of writing.
Becky Kling’s work in Issue 9.1: