Tag Archives: Kendra Fortmeyer

“Carry an Armload of Spaghetti Up the Stairs” – A Conversation with Kendra Fortmeyer

Author Kendra Fortmeyer speaks with our senior editorial consultant Maria Pinto about the process of writing her first novel, HOLE IN THE MIDDLE (now available for pre-order on amazon.co.uk), as well as discovering her characters, turning walls into springboards, and wanting to backup-dance for Of Montreal. 

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MP: Your debut novel, Hole in the Middle, comes out with Little, Brown this summer. Congrats, congrats, a million times congrats! I hear you were at Clarion, the premiere science fiction and fantasy workshop in the country, when you got the news of its pending publication. Describe the first 24 hours after that fateful phone call/ email/ however these things are communicated.

KF: A secret: I knew about the sale quite a long time before Clarion! It became finalized right just before I was accepted to the workshop, but I couldn’t tell anybody. A second (less secret) secret: publishing is (99% of the time) a painfully glacial industry, at least from the author side. Agents have enormous piles of manuscripts on their desks, as do editors; contracts can take months to negotiate; announcements of sales are, themselves, carefully calculated and timed so that your book will receive the most attention possible. So the disappointing answer, in short, is that I’d known about the sale for months but had to Keep It A Secret, because according to mystical publishing algorithms, announcing the sale was most advantageous in July. This can be quite difficult, especially when you’ve poured your heart and soul into a project and presented it trembling to the world, but at the end of the day, soul-trembling or not, publishing is a business (that does, hopefully, present the soul-trembling product of your heart to the world in the best possible light; my agent and editor are brilliant and I would never doubt them).

But! In those 24 hours after the announcement, my beautiful Clarion classmates threw me a surprise doughnut party, because they are the best humans, and I will never stop telling the world so.

MP: What were some things that surprised you about the writing of this book?

KF: Hole in the Middle is my first novel, and so the whole thing was a learning experience. I was most surprised by two things: the first was the point when I couldn’t hold the entire story in my head anymore. As a short story writer, I’d always had an intimate knowledge of my work: where, exactly, certain conversations fell on a page, which language had been used already and which hadn’t. Trying to conceive of an entire novel at once was like trying to carry an armload of spaghetti up the stairs—it’s a bigger and more daunting and slippery experience.

The second is how a novel grows and changes over the course of its writing, and by necessity: when you write a flash fiction in one sitting, it is of a single time and place, and a single instance of yourself. I drafted this novel over the course of a year, during which I was every season of myself. It took a greater deal of editing than I anticipated (in a much more compressed time) to bring the book in line with itself. Continue reading “Carry an Armload of Spaghetti Up the Stairs” – A Conversation with Kendra Fortmeyer