The fiction editors, Rappahannock Review: Some writers have created a kind of ritual they perform before and/or while they write. Do you have any quirky writing habits?
Sarah Kosch: They’re not that quirky, but my two ‘musts’ for writing are coffee and a window. My writing desk at home faces a window, and my ideal writing day is waking up, putting on a pot of coffee, and working in my pajamas. If I’m not able to write first thing in the morning, and I’m trying to fit it in between school and teaching, I always try to relocate to a “fresh” spot, somewhere where I’m only writing and not doing other work. Coffee shops and libraries are two of my favorite writing-designated haunts.
RR: Which writers do you count as influences on your work or style?
SK: That’s always so tough to answer! Three writers that I admire greatly and would like to think influence my work in some way are Gabriel García Márquez, Virginia Woolf, and Kurt Vonnegut. I love the way they think about time and magic and the pairing of the outrageous with the poignant. I also think often of Toni Morrison’s quote: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
RR: How did the process for writing “Elusion” begin? Was it an idea in your head for a while or did you just start writing?
SK: Oh my, “Elusion” and I have quite a history. Years ago, in an undergraduate creative writing studio workshop, I had an idea for a story dealing with entrapment and escape. It didn’t simmer overly long since I was writing under a deadline, and I produced a first draft in which Becca woke up to discover her adventures had all been a dream. My teacher, bless his heart, had an opportunity to teach the class that golden rule: dream endings are a cop out. And so I began to revise. And revise. And revise. And the more years that passed, the more my writing matured, so that every time I went back there was so much more to improve. There were moments when I wanted to scrap the project all together, but I knew I couldn’t because Becca had become such a driving force on the page. As strange as it sounds, I owed it to her to get her story right. I’m so thrilled she is finally making her debut into the world!
RR: Your short story “Elusion” has a distinct writing style that fits seamlessly with with both its content and form. What are some methods or pieces of advice you would offer to young writers to develop their unique voice as you have done?
SK: Don’t be afraid to get weird! And don’t shy away from heavy revision. It’s easy to get attached, to call a piece ‘good enough’ when the work seems like to much, but sometimes what a story really needs is to be slashed into ribbons and rebuilt from the ground up
RR: With both Becca and her mother being unreliable characters, readers have wondered the truth about Becca’s father. How and why did you come to the decision to leave this aspect of the story unrevealed?
SK: Well, “Elusion” is about Becca and her mother navigating his absence. What’s important for the story is their emotional truth, as unreliable as their perspectives may be. In a broader thematic sense, I was also toying with ideas about religion, faith, and free will, so setting the father up as a sort of distant “God-like” figure gave me room to explore those threads in a more concrete way by grounding them in Becca’s experiences, memories, and relationships.
Sarah Kosch’s work in Issue 3.3: