Laura van den Berg was raised in Florida and earned her MFA at Emerson College. She is the recipient of scholarships from the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers' Conferences and the 2009-2010 Emerging Writer Lectureship at Gettysburg College. Her fiction has appeared in One Story, American Short Fiction, Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008, Best New American Voices 2010, and The Pushcart Prize XXIV, among others. Her first collection of stories, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us (Dzanc Books, October 2009), is the winner of the Dzanc Prize and was recently selected by Barnes & Noble for their Discover Great New Writers Program. To learn more about Laura, please visit www.lauravandenberg.com. (Photo © Miriam Berkley 2009.)
For our readers who may not be familiar with your work, what's the most accurate thing someone else has said about it?
Once someone commented that my stories seem to revolve around my obsession with monsters. Given that half the stories in my collection involve a creature of some sort—Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, Mokele-mbembe—that’s not entirely inaccurate.
What have you read/watched/listened to/looked at/ate recently that will permanently change our readers' lives for the better?
Read: Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me by Javier Marías. A masterpiece.
Watched: Rachel Getting Married was pretty great—far more complicated and intense than I had expected. Also, Summer Hours. It’s positively exquisite.
Eaten: the omelet has untold possibilities. Arugula, watercress, delicious cheeses, exotic mushrooms.
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)?
Johnny Depp. If only for the photos.
Have you ever been a Starving Artist, and did it make you brilliant, or just hungry?
Not starving. Frugal times, but never without food.
What would you characterize as an ideal interaction with a reader?
Having them present me with a chocolate cream pie and a big glass of wine and then buy hundreds of copies of my book. Or even just one.
Have you ever written anything that you'd like to take back?
There are days when I want to take everything back.