An interview between alums Natalie Serber (fiction, 2005) and Robin Black (fiction, 2005) appears at Bloom:
Natalie Serber: I met Robin Black in grad school in 2002 and listened with eager ears each time she raised a question or offered an opinion in lectures and discussions. I would’ve been a bit intimidated by her intelligence and curiosity if it weren’t for her friendliness…however, I don’t remember her out on the dance floor at Warren Wilson’s famous, blow-off-steam dances! I do remember she made a regular pilgrimage to a fortune teller in the woods. Mysterious things happened at WW.
Robin Black: My first memory of Natalie dates from a class, my first residency at Warren Wilson, but not hers. She asked a question about the “slowing down” of time in a final paragraph, a concept I had never imagined. A person could manipulate prose that way? After that, I would watch her knitting at readings, and wonder how I could learn what she already knew. Since graduate school, we have become close friends, speaking about w riting sometimes, but more often about life’s joys and challenges – and the way everything can turn in a moment for better and worse.
We both have new nonfiction books out, after publishing primarily fiction. And both of our books are centered around circumstances traditionally seen as fairly personal, even private. In Community Chest
you write vividly and honestly about your experiences with breast cancer, including some decidedly intimate aspects. My new book discusses my struggles with emotional difficulties, including nearly two decades of agoraphobia. My own experience, though, is that in many ways fiction feels more exposing to me, than do essays, even about such personal experiences. With memoir, I have more control over what I reveal than I do with fiction, which in my case is never autobiographical, but always feels to me like showing people my dreams, exposing aspects of myself I don’t even know I am exposing. I was just wondering how all those notions of privacy and disclosure in the two forms play out for you, as you move between the genres.