Rappahannock Review Contributor Spotlight: Interview with Laura Tansley

The poetry editors, Rappahannock Review“Mirror Look at Me” focuses on the strained relationship between a mother and a daughter. However, the two characters are very similar physically and through their experiences. From the title, we can understand that the mirroring characteristics of these two characters is important. What would you describe as the best possible way for children to relate to their parents’ experiences?
Laura Tansley: My father always said ‘do as I say not as I do’ but I still developed the same love of beer and biscuits despite his warnings. Other than that I would suggest that everyone just keeps talking, listening and continually evaluating their ideas.


RR: If you could talk to your characters, what advice would you give them?
LT: I think both ‘Hannah’ and ‘Tara’ have a level of self­awareness that I’ve never been blessed with so I would rather hear their advice for me.

RR: We’d love to hear a bit about your writing process. Do you have to be in the mood to write, or do you approach it like a job and make yourself write even if you don’t feel like it?
LT: I work full time so I often have to battle lethargy and / or fatigue to write. Whatever happens, I try to write every day. Even if it’s just jotting down a couple of lines that I think might grow into something or be part of something which already exists. A friend of mine recently recommended repeated listens of a couple of songs to promote a kind of meditative writing state to help get in the zone. She listens to Katy Perry on a loop and won’t stop till she’s finished what she’s doing. I’ve tried it and I like it although it does take some time to come back to reality afterwards.


RR: Stories often go through multiple evolutions before the final draft. At what moment did your vision for “Mirror Look at Me” come to fruition? On a similar note, what were your favorite moments in the story? Why?
LT: I spent a lot of time thinking about how the two characters in this story would explore ideas of fate and fatalism so once I started writing everything came together quite quickly. Malvern, my hometown and where this story is set, is also a constant source of inspiration which helped. My favourite moment is probably Hannah hugging a sweaty counselor for heat and comfort. It’s desperately intimate for her, and I hope it reads as both funny and sad which was my intention.


RR: Good readers make the best writers. What was the last good book or story you read, and what distinguished it?
LT: I’m excited by lots of things just now: Andrew McMillan’s Physical is a visceral and sexual piece of work which I really enjoyed; Max Porter’s Grief is the Thing with Feathers is joyously innovative; Laurie Metcalf performs a nine­minute monologue exploring female sexuality in episode three of Louis CK’s Horace and Pete which is totally stunning; I recently read Anne Carson’s Nox which is a beautiful object; and there are strange, almost mythical stories weaving all the way through The Drink’s Capital, well worth a listen.


Laura Tansley’s work in Issue 3.2: 

Mirror Look At Me