An interview with Michael Farris Smith about his book Desperation Road
(Original cover / French cover)
By beginning this novel, did you want to write about all those people who don’t find their place (or not anymore) in society ?
I don’t really have a plan or a message in mind when I begin to write a novel. What I had was an image stuck in my head that I could not make go away. This image was that of a woman and her small child walking along the side of the highway, carrying a bag with everything they own. I knew I had to write about them, to find out what had happened. Why were they there? Where were they going? So I began to follow them and to search for their story.
I think I often end up writing about characters who are on the outside, or who are having a very difficult time finding their place in this world. There are many people out there who are trying hard to make a good life for themselves and their families, but it is not so easy for everyone. These are the people I care about, and so it is the people I write about.
There’s hope in all this despair, it’s quite paradoxical. Was it complicated to play on both levels, as a writer ?
I try not to think too hard about things like that when I am writing. The one thing I try to do is make it very difficult on my characters. I want to see how much hardship they can endure. I want to see if they will give up or keep fighting. Somewhere along the way, things like redemption and grace will come along if the characters have the courage.
Could it be said this a novel about redemption ?
Sure. I think that’s what it is about to me. Or at least, the opportunity for redemption. It’s about many things, but this is one of them.
Your style is very empathic, was it a concern of yours all while the writing ?
No, not really. It is difficult enough to sit down and write a good novel without worrying about things like style or audience or genre. I have learned over the years to trust myself, to trust my voice, and to just let it come out the way it comes out on to the page. There is something natural about that, and I believe art should be natural and organic. You can try too hard. You have to let go.
This novel is about a part of deep America. Are you particularly influenced by places you know yourself ?
Absolutely. I have always felt a strong attachment to place, and the Mississippi I write about in my novels is the Mississippi I know. There is both beauty and sadness in it. I love making the place a character of its own in writing fiction, and I will always write about places that I know and feel an emotional attachment to. Mississippi has the ability to speak for itself.
Catégories :Interviews littéraires