Does every story need a moral?This week’s Q & A is with contributor Audrey Austin, who sticks to a one-book-per-year writing schedule. Today on CommuterLit we present Audrey’s story Weaving Alice.
CL: Many of your stories seem to include a protagonist who is helped by God or communicates with God. Is this reflective of your own personal belief system/faith? How is your faith reflected in your fiction?
AA: A religious person I am not, however I am a strong woman of faith. When I meet new characters in my short stories and novels they take on a life of their own. Often no one is more surprised than me to realize that a character’s comfort or challenge with religion is often a reflection of my own internal struggle. Fundamentalists of all religions cause the hairs on my back to stand on end. At an early age I felt discomfort in the Christian fundamentalist pew in which I was required to sit. Today I am grateful for this past woe because it set me on a path of learning and discovery, which has enhanced my life and I hope, in the process, my creative writing. I am reminded of Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance — the balance between hope and despair. To maintain this balance is a fine goal. The exploration of faith and religion through fictional creative writing is pleasurable, but always I keep in mind the advice of a dear friend who said to me, “Beware the one who says he knows.”
CL: What role does faith play for you in your writing process, and in the pursuit of your writing and publishing career?
AA: It was not until I retired from the working world that I began my writing career. Faith plays a major role in my pursuit of publishing success, the definition of which is ever changing in my mind. I cling, sometimes precariously, to faith in myself, faith in my writing proficiency accompanied by its own imperfection plus my faith in the wonderful readers whose encouragement and support keep me writing when sometimes fear — the opponent of faith — comes knocking on the door.
CL: Do you think all stories need a moral in them?
AA: When I begin to write a story in no time at all the character(s) take over and I feel as though I become the student; the observer; the typist who records all that they want to express. I’m not sure if all stories need a moral. I leave that decision to the characters because I swear each one has a mind of his own.
CL: What authors are you currently reading and why?
AA: To know and to understand people, to try to grasp the reasoning behind human behaviour is the carrot. Since early childhood it has never been enough for me to simply accept that this is what people do. Always I want to know why people do what they do. This desire to know is carried over into my writing but also into my reading. For this reason one of my favourite authors is Rohinton Mistry. I have read and re-read all his books. Poppie Nongena by Elsa Joubert offered a memorable journey and a more recent book I’ve read is The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
Today my short story titled Weaving Alice is featured on http://CommuterLit.com