Aurore Sibley’s story “Summer at Quail Lake” appears in Midwestern Gothic‘s Summer 2018 issue, out now.
What’s your connection to the Midwest, and how has the region influenced your writing?
I was born in Milwaukee and spent the first eleven years of my life in Wisconsin, mostly in a small town outside of Madison. When I was eighteen, I returned to the area and spent a summer on a small farm there. I have moved a great deal and lived in many places since then, but have always associated the nostalgia of my childhood and a sense of home with Wisconsin. I also returned to the midwest as an adult and spent some time in Ohio and four years in Saint Paul, MN. I’ve lived half my life in California now, and also have lived in four other states and two other countries, but the midwest, and Wisconsin in particular, is still the place I think of when I think of belonging.
What do you think is the most compelling aspect of the Midwest?
I love that the midwest moves at a slower pace than places on the east and west coasts. There’s a sense of being more relaxed and grounded somehow, at least for me. I love the humid summers and the snow in winter. And probably love it because I don’t live with it regularly anymore.
How do your experiences or memories of specific places—such as where you grew up, or a place you’ve visited that you can’t get out of your head—play a role in your writing?
The small Wisconsin farm where I spent just one summer has remained my favorite place on earth since I was there. There’s something about the land and the place that resonates with me and that I’ve carried with me and romanticized. Fireflies, abandoned train tracks, rolling hills and thunderstorms are food for my soul, and I daydream about returning to a place and a life like that one day.
Discuss your writing process — inspirations, ideal environments, how you deal with writer’s block.
Writing for me is something I have always been compelled to do, (I loved writing as a kid, too.). I’m a single mother who works full time, and its not easy to carve out space for writing, but I manage to because I don’t feel fulfilled unless I’m productive with writing and music, and other creative practices. I love writing poetry, short stories and nonfiction essays. Usually an idea for a story just strikes me somehow, and it builds itself while I write it. If I’m stuck with a story, which definitely happens, I move to poetry or something that I can manage to get that sense of completion from, and then I move back to the story when I feel inspired to.
How can you tell when a piece of writing is finished?
I have a tendency to write in spurts and then revise and revise and expand the story and revise and revise some more. It can be a laborious process but I love it, and there’s a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction when a story has reached completion. And if I go back and read it later, I will inevitably continue to revise it, so at a certain point it feels great to just let it go, and print it.
Who is your favorite author (fiction writer or poet), and what draws you to their work?
That is a very difficult question, because I have loved so many authors. If I were to name just one, Anchee Min comes to mind. I love biography and memoir and historical fiction and her writing is full of imagination and intimacy. Oh, and I have to add Dr. Oliver Sacks, because he might actually be my very favorite writer ever, but he does not write fiction.
What’s next for you?
I continue to slowly produce poems and hope to manage a collection before too long, I published a chapbook of poems last year. And I am working on something a little different for me, which has very been fun and might be considered to be in the mystery genre. We’ll see if I have a full book in me. Its very exciting to try.
Where can we find more information about you?
I am on Instagram and Facebook, and may decide to publish a writing-focused website at some point. I’ve published an article in Lilipoh magazine this month as well, if interested in another sample of my writing.