Making the Little Monsters Walk: Interview with Brad Watson — Richard Farrell
Originally published in Numero Cinq Vol. II, No. 12, December 2011
Richard Farrell (RF): I’d like to start with a question The Paris Review once asked of Arthur Koestler: What do you dislike most of all?
Brad Watson (BW): (laughing) Rules. Rules and the people who follow rules, who are obsessed with keeping them and enforcing them. Assholes who get uptight and yell at you if you cross the street the wrong way. That kind of bullshit. But you can apply it across the board.
RF: You’ve travelled around a lot. You’ve grew up in Mississippi and you lived and worked in Alabama, Florida, in Los Angeles and Boston. You’ve lived in Wyoming for the last 6 years. And one of the things that struck me about your writing is how deeply important a sense of place is to your work. I wonder if your sensibility about place in your writing evolved out of so much movement in your personal life.
BW: In a sense, yes. My life and imagination are deeply rooted in Mississippi and Alabama, so my stories still seem to arise from that and there. But being away also intensifies that imaginative connection and even frees it up, somewhat. You’re able to be there in your head, unaffected by the present circumstances of actually being there. So in a way it’s more purely imagined.
I don’t necessarily think about place consciously as I work, since it’s all but instinctive. I look back at it in a work, rather than calculating it in. But if I didn’t have a strong sense of a place, I couldn’t write. Writing a story or a novel, everything is tied closely to the sense of the place. The writing is saturated with it, somehow saturated by place.