Interviews can be daunting for both the interviewer and interviewee. But practice makes perfect—almost I hope!—and interviews give insight into a writer’s mind, her inspiration, hopes, dreams, and the thereafter.
Rebecca Cobb and I are both MFA candidates at the University of Central Florida. Despite being the second largest university in the country, I love our small class sizes and how these intimate classes foster community with fellow aspiring writers. I first met Rebecca at the first year orientation where I spoke about the MFA Marketing Committee and sought out future members. Since then, she has become a vital member of our organization, a friend, a writer, and semi-guinea pig to my very first interview. Thank you Rebecca for allowing me to interview you.
JP: So Rebecca, what inspired you to be a writer? Join the MFA?
RC: I’ve been writing for years. I remember in second grade my teacher had us write our own story. We even illustrated it. I did a silly little thing about a dog and a cat that hated each other. I just kept writing from there. As for the MFA, I didn’t even know it existed until after I changed my major. By then, I was so in love with creative writing that I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
JP: Clearly you have a knack for tension, choosing mortal enemies, cats and dogs, as your first story. I’m sure it was absolutely fetching! (Get it? =D) How do you plan to utilize the degree post-graduation?
RC: After I graduate, I want to teach. Any kind of teaching, really as long as it’s creative writing or literature related. And of course, I want to write. Being published would be nice. Lamest answer ever, but it is what it is.
JP: If by lame, you mean honest, sure. You have direction and goals. There’s absolutely nothing lame about that! What contemporary authors inspire you and why?
RC: I can’t stop obsessing over Karen Russell. Can I be her? Can I meet her? I’ll settle for writing like her. I can’t stop reading Swamplandia!. It’s fun and her craft is beautiful. I could spend hours just poring over one page.
JP: Karen Russell is amazing! I was so surprised when I learned Swamplandia! originated from a short story. She really is a beautiful writer. Now about you, imagine this. You receive a call from your agent. Somebody wants to publish your first book. Who is the first person you contact and what do you say?
RC: Oh, definitely my dad. He’s been behind me on this for years. He knew I was a writer before I did. The conversation, though! God knows he would just gloat in the, “I told you so.”
JP: I have to admit, I’m a bit jealous. My dad still tells his friends I’m working on my MBA and not my MFA. -_- But this interview isn’t about me and my daddy issues (thank goodness!) Can you briefly describe the premise of your thesis?
RC: After much deliberation, I’ve decided to write a novel. Fingers crossed on that one. I’m writing about Montana, and I’m hoping there might be a dash of magical realism. We’ll see if I can pull it off. If it ends up anything like Matt Bell’s In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods and Annie Proulx’s Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3, I’ll consider it a success.
JP: Something tells me you will do more than just “pull it off.” Best of luck to you Rebecca and thank you so much for doing this interview!
Rebecca Cobb is a first year MFA student studying fiction at the University of Central Florida, and edits for the Creative Writing MFA Blog. She is currently working on a series of short stories and can be found lurking in the book section at any local thrift store.
Jonathan Phin is a second year MFA candidate at the University of Central Florida. He received his Bachelors of Arts in English at the University of South Florida. He is the GWA treasurer and has previously worked as an intern editor for The Florida Review.