Doretta Lau, "Two-Part Invention"

It's December 10. Doretta Lau, author of How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun?, plays her blender like a musical instrument.

How would you describe your story?

DORETTA LAU: After a conversation with her grandmother, a woman decides to date dead men. She embarks on research and settles on the composer Glenn Gould. File under weird ghost stories and strange discoveries.

When did you write it, and how did the writing process compare to your other work?

DL: I started the story in 2004, when I was in grad school, and worked on several drafts until 2008. The first version had less feeling and more facts. For more recent stories I've spent less time between drafts and I try to remember that if I work more quickly I can respond to what is happening in the world through my fiction.

What, for you, are the essential elements of a good short story? 

DL: Killer sentences, compelling characters, and a satisfying emotional arc. A little humour doesn't hurt either. I like to be entertained and to feel like I have entered someone's dazzling mind.

Did this story require any research?

DL: I listened to Glenn Gould's recordings while I wrote the story. I read as many books as I could about his life and others that featured him as a fictional character. My favourite was The Loser by Thomas Bernhard.

Where can people go to learn more about you and your work?

DL: There's my websiteTwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

What's on your Christmas list this year?

DL: I don't celebrate Christmas, but if I did I'd want a Vitamix because I want to make horchata and hummus and other delicious things that cause my current blender to emit death noises.

Michael Hingston