For our readers who may not be familiar with your work, what’s the most accurate thing someone else has said about it?
I’m an obsessive, prurient observer, and my writing is often described as both lyrical and minimalist. I think Luc Sante nailed it in his blurb for Follow Me Down: “Kio Stark reads people and their streets the way an animal reads the forest. And she spends language carefully, as if she kept it in a coffee can—she makes it last.”
What have you read/watched/listened to/looked at/ate recently that will permanently change our readers’ lives for the better?
I’ve been watching Deadwood, which has such fantastic characters and attention to language. At the same time, I started reading John Sayles’ new book A Moment in the Sun, which begins with a gold rush tale. It was an accident in this case, but getting immersed in one time period across multiple mediums is one of my secret pleasures. Everyone should try it.
Whose ghostwritten celebrity tell-all (or novel) would you sprint to the store to buy (along with a copy of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius so that the checkout clerk doesn’t look at you screwy)?
Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer. I love the way they write about making art and about their relationship on Twitter and their blogs. I can’t get enough.
Have you ever been a Starving Artist, and did it make you brilliant, or just hungry?
I’m lucky in that I’ve been able to support my writing habit by working intermittently as a copywriter for startups and big ad agencies and by teaching really fun classes to geeks at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. Being hungry is way too distracting.
What would you characterize as an ideal interaction with a reader?
I’d say my ideal interaction is honest—and disembodied, in writing. The exchanges I had with readers on my blog about strangers, Municipal Archive, spurred me into writing Follow Me Down. I actually love talking to people in person about my work, but I also feel awkward about it. When people tell me they liked the book, or this or that line, I want to ask them why. I want a conversation. That’s easier in writing. We’re getting some of that going at redlemona.de (my publisher’s reader-writer community site) where you can comment in the margins on manuscripts and engage with both authors and other readers. It’s scary, but also so much closer to ideal, for me.
Have you ever written anything that you’d like to take back?
Not yet! But I have many secret projects hiding in drawers.