INTERVIEW WITH JT GODFREY
Rappahannock Review Nonfiction Editors: “Quinney + Rayma” addresses the major influences of women in your life, such as your mom, and of course Quinney and “Rayma.” Was there any process in choosing who you wanted to include in this piece, or were you set on it being Quinney and Rayma? Were there any others you considered incorporating?
JT Godfrey: Interestingly, there are at least ten people that could be in this piece or in their own. I wanted to express how our culture and media intubate a commodity on romantic love. This story shows that traditional dynamics of romance such as dependability, comfort, intimacy, and transformation are not exclusive to romantic relationships. I chose to write about the people based on Quinney and Rayma because they both helped deprogram that concept at two significant points in my life. I wrote both stories separately and the theme was undeniable. As for Anna, Lizzie, Emily, Adrienne, Dani, Maddy, and many more, I hope to write more stories that encapsulate the unique nature of our friendships with different themes and more inside jokes.
RR: The footnotes in “Quinney + Rayma” really add more comedic value to the piece. Did you initially intend to put footnotes in? If not, what changed your mind?
JG: Comedy has always been a really valuable and essential tool in my writing. I started my career doing stand-up comedy and I wanted to include that voice in this story because I’ve never been funnier than in a room with either Quinney or Rayma. The style I wrote this piece in was intentionally conversational and I wanted the footnotes to feel like asides during a dinner party holding-of-court. I’m glad they made other people laugh!
RR: We love how natural the dialogue feels in “Quinney + Rayma.” Were there any habits, like keeping a journal, that helped you with writing this piece?
JG: I grew up in a family of storytellers and truth-stretchers. When you grow up hearing the fourth or fifth draft of a barroom fable, you learn what lines in life make a story and start squirreling them away in notebooks. I talked to Quinney and Rayma a lot during the process of writing this piece and their memories, my notebooks, voicemails, emails, and text conversations served as a great archive.
RR: Have you received any interesting responses or feedback from the people you’ve written about in this piece?
JG: Quinney says I wasn’t as fumbling as I make myself out to be and Rayma thinks I make myself sound too cool. They were both very integral to the story and it was really interesting to get their takes on the opposite relationship, how they saw themselves in each other and the dynamics expressed. They’ve both heard a lot about each other and met once or twice, but to have the connecting line be more than just a mutual friend was very fun and insightful.
RR: Are there any projects you are currently working on? If so, can you tell us more about the one you’re most passionate about?
JG: I am working on my first collection of short stories all about loss, grief, and healing. I lost my brother Mark during the pandemic and it inspired me to explore different perspectives on death both literal and figurative. Whether the death of a loved one or the loss of lifelong milestones, I think the pandemic made us all realize how diverse grief can be. My goal is to provide a blueprint for healing through creative writing. “Quinney + Rayma” is all about overcoming loss—loss of a worldview, of Quinney in my life for several years, of college life, and of course “my ridiculous obsession with love!” (a good line from the greatest movie of all time, Moulin Rouge). I’ve been blessed with the resources to process a lot of the grief from the past two years and I would like to use that privilege for some good.
JT Godfrey’s work in Issue 9.1: