Five Questions with Andrew Newby
Sophie Rosenblum: We’re publishing your piece, “Probably What Sex is Like at College,” in the next issue of NANO Fiction. With a title like that, it’s challenging not to want to keep reading! What helps you come up with titles?
Andrew Newby: I typically find titles before the writing takes shape. In my poems especially, I try to find a way to use the title of a piece as more than a lens for the story, and want the title to almost stand alone. I know it sounds odd, but I sit down to write about the title, not the other way around.
SR: Your story names no characters. Instead, you use “someone” to indicate people in the piece. Is this a technique you use often, or was it something you chose specifically for this story?
AN: I like to keep my characters unnamed for a period of time before revealing gender or name because I want to have a universal world that any reader wants to explore. I try to write from a foreign perspective more often than not because I feel that it grows me, both as a writer and a person.
I didn’t want to have a set number of characters for this piece because I wanted the reader to make a decision for themselves. It could be two people, or it could be several individuals in different stages of a relationship. It isn’t up to me to decide how people live their life, and I wanted the reader to decide who this story is about. Giving a second reading with a different number of characters really changes they way I understand what happens in the story. It could describe a single evening for many people, it could be a period of time for two people. That’s what makes it work for me.
AN: Some of my favorite writers include Russell Edson, Lydia Davis, and Jenny Erpenbeck. I love people who break form, and think these writers do a superb job exploring that idea. As a veteran, I also love The Stick Soldiers by Hugh Martin. That was definitely a game changer for me.
SR: If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
AN: If I weren’t writing, I would like to think I be in the world of literature. Maybe teaching? I’m also a pilot, so maybe I’d just be flying.
SR: What can we expect next from Andrew Newby?
AN: I’m currently working on a new piece of historical fiction about the AIDS epidemic that I’m putting in a new form. Hope to be finished by December.