Laura van den Berg, "Aftermath"


It's December 9. Laura van den Berg, author of Find Me, isn't afraid of a little elbow grease. 

How would you describe your story?

LAURA VAN DEN BERG: A collision between a creepy attic ceiling and two sisters causes a boatload of distress.

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

LVDB: I wrote it in the spring of 2015, when I was spending a semester at Bard College. I was in a lovely house on campus—except on my first night, all by myself, I did accidentally pull down an old attic ceiling and had a hell of a time closing the thing. This happened on my first night at Bard and I wrote the story near the end of the term, so there was a gestation period of a couple of months.

What kind of research went into this story?

LVDB: Only my own accidental and alarming experience with an attic ceiling.

What, to you, makes the short story a special form? What can it do that other kinds of writing can't?

LVDB: The radical compression of the story, the density of time and experience, has a way of unsettling me in my own life with greater regularity than the novel (though I love those, too). 

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

LVDB: or on Instagram, if you want to see many many photos of my dog.

What's the best gift you've ever been given?

LVDB: The very best? Hm, tough one. In an effort to not offend anyone who has given me a gift through the years, I'll cite the time I gifted myself a pair of metallic oxfords as a mood-lifter; they have proven to be surprisingly effective. Also, I do think in some ways our dog was a gift from my husband. He did not believe himself to be an "animal person" and also believed that if we didn't get a dog together very soon, I was just going to bring one or maybe several home (he was not wrong), so when we decided to adopt our pup, Oscar, from a friend who was fostering him, it look a big leap of faith on my husband's end, and a leap of faith is often a very beautiful gift. (Update: he and Oscar are now BFFs.)

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Michael Hingston