Author interview: David Tarleton
Interview with David Tarleton, author of The Girl Who Made the Moon
David is a fairly recent graduate of the MFA Program at Lesley University. In his non-writing life, he’s a graphic designer and amateur photographer. A native of rural upstate New York, he currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, with his wife. He tells us his writing is normally literary fiction, but with elements of the fantastic; he likes to experiment with form and genre, but ultimately, it’s about telling a good story.
TB: Welcome to the Tenebris blog, David. Thanks for joining us. Can you tell us how you found out about our anthology, and what made you decide to submit a story?
DAVID: A friend of mine, who is decidedly much more diligent about seeking writing contests and publication opportunities than I am, sent me a message about Willow, Weep No More, and had already decided which story I should submit. She’s a good friend.
TB: So you already had a story suitable for a fairytale anthology, which begs the question: what was your original inspiration for the story?
DAVID: There were a number of different inspirations for The Girl Who Made the Moon; among them is my undying love of classical mythology. I was raised on Greek myth (I had the most wonderful 2nd grade teacher in elementary school, whose idea of story time was to read to the class from a collection of Greek mythology) and those stories have remained with me all of my life. I’ve always loved how the myth functions as a way to understand the natural world, to provide an explanation for the unexplainable. For me that is the primary purpose of any writing; to create an essential truth or understanding of an aspect of the world. Also, I must give credit to Italo Calvino, whose story, The Distance of the Moon, in his collection, Cosmicomics, has always stuck with me since the first time I read it.
TB: It’s certainly easy to see this influence in your story. But mythology aside, do you have a favourite classic fairytale or folk tale?
DAVID: Picking a favourite is almost impossible. As I mentioned, I’ve always loved the Greek myth, and some of my favourites include the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, as well as the Odyssey, and the tales of the labours of Heracles. Also, I’m a big fan of the Grimm fairytales—especially the new Phillip Pullman edition—as well as Italo Calvino’s collection of Italian Folktales. Then there are the fairytales of Herman Hesse—which I urge people to seek out—and numerous American folktales, which I’ve been studying as research for the novel I’m working on. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop here.
Your story is differs from the others in the book in that it is set against a Spanish—or possibly some other Spanish-speaking—backdrop, where many of the others can be seen to take their inspiration from central and northern European tales. For you, what is it that defines a fairytale?
DAVID: I guess I’d say that a fairytale could be almost any kind of story, as long as it is at least one step removed from the realm of everyday reality, and that it uses this freedom from constraint in order to communicate some universal tenet of the human experience. What is so lasting about some of the more famous fairytales, is that they often impart a moral lesson, or deliver a basic truth, in a form that is both easy to understand, yet is complex enough to retold over and over, and inspire limitless study and examination. A fairytale is deceptively simple, and this is what makes them so powerful and lasting.
TB: How do you feel about having an artist illustrate something inspired by your story?
DAVID: I am beyond thrilled about having an artist illustrate some aspect of my story. When I learned this, I had to restrain myself from sending a torrent of emails suggesting particular scenes I wanted to have brought to life, and had to remind myself that no one likes to be told what to do, especially when it comes to a creative endeavour. It’s been an exercise in Christmas morning anticipation. I’ve always dreamt of putting out a story or novel that combines words with images, and this will be the first taste of what that might entail.
TB: Speaking of writing ambitions, can you tell us what you’re working on now?
DAVID: I’m currently deep inside the writing of a novel, titled The Particular Geography of Blueville, which is both the story of an estranged husband and wife and their struggle over their only daughter, as well as the story of the creation and eventual destruction of a small town over the span of a couple hundred years.
TB: We look forward to hearing more about it as it progresses! Thanks for taking the time to speak to us, David, and we wish you all the best with your writing career.