Aubrey Hirsch – First Book Interview

Aubrey Hirsch, the author of Why We Never Talk About Sugar (Braddock Avenue Books, 2013), sat down with LitBridge to discuss her first book with Kallie Falandays.

1. First can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What do you do for fun. Where did you study? What are some things you are afraid of.

Sure! I’m originally from Cleveland, Ohio, so you know I’m tough. I got my MFA in fiction writing from the University of Pittsburgh. In my spare time, I play Scrabble and read books on theoretical particle physics. I’m afraid of flying and tornadoes, and I don’t care much for strange, barking dogs either.

2. How long did you spend writing the manuscript?

I’ve been working on these stories for a while, some of them since college, so almost 10 years now. But I didn’t envision the collection until a few years ago when I realized I had enough stories that I was really proud of and that seemed to hang together to complete a collection.

3. What is the first (or most important) thing you teach your students about writing? 

The most important thing I try to teach them is not to give up. As long as your writing and working you can get better, but as soon as you’ve given up, it’s game over. I think perseverance is the number one most important skill for writers to have. 

4. Where were you when you found out your first book was going to be published? 

I was actually in New Orleans visiting my sister. I had a phone call set up with the publishers, so I was sitting alone in my car in a grocery store parking lot. It was a very surreal moment. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it!

5. Was this the first manuscript you sent out, or were there others? 

This is the first manuscript I sent out.

6. What was the last story that you wrote about?

The last story I wrote for the book actually appears first in the collection. It’s about a young man teaching English in South Korea. He meets a woman named Kara, falls in love with her quickly, and then she robs him in the midst of a very elaborate scam.

7. Was there a specific moment where you felt “Yes, I am now officially a writer.”  

I think this is something that happened gradually. I’ve been teaching writing for about 10 years now, so for a long time it was easier and more comfortable to say, “I’m a writing teacher,” than “I’m a writer.” But I would try the title on every now and then until, eventually, it seemed to fit.

8. Did you have any hand in the process of actually publishing the book (i.e. choosing the order, choosing the cover image etc.)?

Yes! My publisher, Braddock Avenue Books, worked with me very closely. We all had input about the story order, the cover, etc. And I think we’re all really happy with how the book turned out.

9. What is the next big project that you are working on?

I’m working on a novel, which is very daunting. I keep having to remind myself to just quit worrying about it and write!

10. Do you have any advice for writers sending out their first book manuscript?

Spend your waiting time working on your next project. That way, whatever happens with the current manuscript, you’ll have something else you’re excited about waiting in the wings.