Editor’s Note: This exchange is part of a series of brief interviews with emerging writers of recent or forthcoming books. If you enjoyed it, please visit other interviews in the I’ve Got Questions feature.
- What’s the title of your book? Fiction? Nonfiction? Poetry? Who is the publisher and what’s the publication date?
We Were Angry: A Novella & Stories, Press 53, August 29, 2022
- In a couple of sentences, what’s the book about?
We Were Angry follows a group of childhood friends over several decades as they reckon with their desires and the dark history of their small, Southern town.
- What’s the book’s genre (for fiction and nonfiction) or primary style (for poetry)?
- What’s the nicest thing anyone has said about the book so far?
What Michael Knight said meant the world to me since I learned to write, in part, by studying his earlier work: “Jennifer Davis’s new collection is breathtaking in its intensity, in the emotional heat in these pages, the sheer weight of love and longing and loss. It’s set in Alabama, but these characters might live anywhere hearts break and life doesn’t turn out the way we dream it, the place as deeply felt and alive as the people and rendered by a world-class short story writer at the top of her game.”
- What book or books is yours comparable to or a cross between? [Is your book like Moby Dick or maybe it’s more like Frankenstein meets Peter Pan?]
I am one of those self-loathing writers who can’t really see my work clearly and fears ridicule if I dare compare my book to another writer’s book, however loosely. There’s no way I can be so precise as to compare it to specific books, but I will try to compare it to a few writers: We Were Angry is like Flannery O’Connor meets Bobby Ann Mason with a touch of the wondrous Debra Monroe and the novelesque quality of Alice Munro. (Maybe. I will swear everything I just stated here is nonsense as soon as I send off this interview.)
- Why this book? Why now?
I’m from a town similar to the setting of We Were Angry, and I’m a parent of four young kids and at an age that I am wrangling with some of the same questions that run throughout the book. Why is it so hard to connect with other human beings? Why do we cause so much harm to those we want to comfort and love the most? How can we make a life amid so much loss, and who do we think we are to even try? How do we reckon with our dark, violent history so that we do not pass on our terrible burdens to our children?
- Other than writing this book, what’s the best job you’ve ever had?
Teaching at LSU has been a gift. The students are a joy and definitely keep me on my toes in the best of ways.
- What do you want readers to take away from the book?
This collection is all about missed connections. I hope the reader will feel a little less alone.
- What food and/or music do you associate with the book?
I associate Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger with pretty much all the story collections that I write, but this one especially since the novella takes place in Montana. I learned how to tell stories by listening to my father play that album.
- What book(s) are you reading currently?
I leave books scattered all over the place and pick them up whenever I can. Right now I am reading Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty, Craft in the Real World by Matthew Salesses, The Prince of Mournful Thoughts by Caroline Kim, and Under Capitalism if Your Head Aches They Just Yank Off Your Head by Ariel Francisco, my wonderful colleague at LSU. I’m also rereading Giovanni’s Room and reading Superfudge to my kid.
Learn more about Jennifer at her website.
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