What would you like to share with our readers about the work you contributed to the Bellingham Review?
This story has been revised a lot. The inspiration came when I was in my hometown of Jacksonville, Florida, and my family and I found a bird on the asphalt. Then a neighbor told me, “This is the season when the baby birds fall out of their nests.” That was so evocative. And B.E.A.K.S. bird rehabilitation center is a real place. I enjoyed working with setting in this story. This was also the first story I wrote that had a three-part structure. (Though with revision, it became a four-part piece!)
Tell us about your writing life.
I always wrote, though not stories. When I was in high school, I was big on pen pals. I also had English teachers who encouraged me in high school and college, and that meant a lot. I’ve probably been writing for 25 years, though some of those years I didn’t work at all. I keep choosing to write in my free time, and I go back to that fact when the self-doubt creeps in. I’ve also found that getting back to work solves any problem with the writing life. I’m a lot more mature as a writer now.
I love setting, and setting is the one thing in my fiction that isn’t fiction. I don’t think I could write about a place without having been there.
As for obsessions, I wrote the first draft of this when my children were younger, and I think I was interested in how we can protect and how we cannot protect our children. And how the idea of protecting them changes over time.
What is your favorite book (essay, poem, short story)? Who is your favorite writer?
I just finished All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and loved it. Other favorites of the past year are My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout, Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf, and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
What project are you working on now?
This year I’ve been piecing together a memoir about my grandfather and his wife, who was hard to love at first, my yearning for more stories about my grandmother, and my grandfather’s last seven years, six of them in a nursing home in an economically depressed part of Oklahoma. I’ve had a long-time commitment to a novel in stories called Paper Birds. And I’ve just started a new novel about the daughter of a hoarder.
LAURA GABEL-HARTMAN’s stories have been published or are forthcoming in Carve Magazine, CutBank, Green Hills Literary Lantern, MAKE Magazine, North American Review, Red Cedar Review, Rio Grande Review, South Carolina Review, and Southern Humanities Review. Stories have been named Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train’s Fiction Open and Finalist in CutBank‘s Montana Prize in Fiction. She earned her MFA in Fiction at Virginia Commonwealth University.