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A BookTrib interview with Aurelie Sheehan

ASheehan_Credit Cybele Knowles BookTrib's Jamie Yourdon recently sat down with author Aurelie Sheehan to discuss the writing process and her new book Jewelry Box. The interview looks in-depth at Sheehan's own experiences as a writer, and how her new collection of stories came to be. "I wanted to write, but I had limited time to work with," says Aurelie Sheehan, on the origin of Jewelry Box. "Also, I was thinking about history: I wanted to find a way into the past and its stories. And so the project was born - a book of histories found within objects and, as the project went on, concepts and states of being. Because I was writing this over so many years, the project encompasses various personal epochs of anxiety, preoccupation, and theme. Finally I homed in on a shape, and published the book with BOA Editions--an amazing literary press, mostly known for poetry, though also recently breaking ground in fiction with their short fiction prize and American Reader Series." Here are some more excerpts from the interview we think you'll enjoy: JY: The past weights heavily in Jewelry Box, whether due to nostalgia or lingering trauma. Do certain memories bring you back to a different place? AS: Because Jewelry Box is a collection of “histories,” it includes pieces set in my own past—it explores the relationship of self to history. In this endeavor, some level of separation from my subject has very frequently helped me find clarity. But I am also exploring the way memory itself “shapes” story—so that’s like looking at the road between self and subject, a kind of middle ground. That isn’t to say I don’t think immersion (and research) can’t be immensely helpful. Sometimes writing in the eye of the storm is the only way. JY: Some of my favorite stories explore the rituals of femininity. What do you find you’re able to reveal, when you focus on these rites? AS: I love how you put that, “rituals of femininity.” I think I can reveal complexity by keeping my eye focused on one thing, one image or object, for longer than might be expected. In “Mascara,” a rather ordinary ritual is delivered in elaborate detail—it’s absurd, lavish, and meditative. Ideally, there is a kind of stop-time effect, an invitation to consider the many perspectives and implications of one thing. In some ways thinking about a really sexy pair of shoes and all it might mean is a perfect example of what I’m trying to do in this whole book. Everything explodes with meaning. Click here to read the entire BookTrib interview with Aurelie Sheehan. To purchase your own copy of Jewelry Box, visit the BOA Bookstore.
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