Tiny Spills | Anna Noyes

Tabs open on your screen right now:
“The Growing Legend of Shirley Jackson,” an interview with Ruth Franklin and Doug Gordon at Electric Literature.

If you had to brag about yourself:
I make a strangely good red velvet cake (though it looks kind of like a sand castle). The secret ingredient is hot coffee.

Your writer crush:
Just now, Mary Ruefle. Always, Toni Morrison.

Favorite lyric:
I’m always hit hard by “Out of all those kinds of people / you’ve got a face with a view” from “This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)” by Talking Heads. Or maybe, “Fly on, Little Wing,” from “Little Wing” by Jimi Hendrix, which I’d like on my grave.

Any place in the world:
I’m thinking of New Mexico (craving dry heat) but ultimately my hometown in Maine.

Best breakfast:
Anything benedict. I’m also a smoked salmon addict.

Favorite online places right now:
When I’m in flux, I tend towards comforting, obsessive, dream-future-oriented browsing– saving recipes, researching natural health remedies for the healthy lifestyle I don’t quite have, looking at apartment listings in places I don’t live, streaming shows about wedding dresses. I get a little delusional. I’m happier offline.

Sweetest thing:
My dad just sent me a picture of 11 people from my 250 person hometown, on the steps of the Post Office, holding their signs in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington. My uncle is waving a tiny American flag. My dad is next to him. I immediately cried.

Your rituals (writing or not):
I ritualistically watch The Family Stone every year, from Thanksgiving through Christmas (four times this year, which got only a little grueling). I keep talismans in my pockets at readings. Beyond that, I’m pretty bad at daily rituals. My family reliably eats oatmeal on Saturday and a big egg breakfast on Sunday, always, and I wish I could live that way too. And of course, I crave writing rituals. I’m constantly picking up new, productive habits and then letting them slide. I’m rebellious to routine, but oh, I try!

Least impressive thing about you:
I do a lot of shuffling around in my pajamas, searching for a better way. Also, though in my work I try to cast off familiar narratives of womanhood and girlhood, I’ll watch pretty much any romcom available. I just finished Bridget Jones’s Baby and I loved every moment.

Favorite space to write:
The couch, the bed, on some good days the desk.

What we should know:
Tobacco and spit help a bee sting.

Guilty literary pleasure:
I read a lot of self-help and spirituality books (not to mention I have to check most of my relationships in my giant astrology guide to see how we match up). Then I find myself hiding the titles with my hand on the subway, even though I’ve underlined passages on every page.

Best book nobody talks about:
Back to Shirley Jackson, it used to be We Have Always Lived In The Castle. But now people are talking – hallelujah!

Character (TV, book, movie) you most identify with:
Nearly everyone in Alice Munro’s short stories.

Last time you lied:
About my tabs.

The lie:
The tab, referenced above, was open on my screen in December, midway through answering these questions. Everything, even the tiniest spill, takes me so long.

Question you secretly want to be asked:
(By everyone, every morning) What was your dream last night?

The answer:
I really would tell you (a bad habit), but by now I’ve forgotten.

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Anna Noyes is the author of the debut story collection, Goodnight, Beautiful Women, which was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice (Grove Atlantic 2016). She has an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her fiction has appeared in ViceA Public Space, and Guernica, among others. She has received the Aspen Words Emerging Writer Fellowship, the James Merrill House Fellowship, and the Lighthouse Works Fellowship, and has served as writer-in-residence at the Polli Talu Arts Center in Estonia. Goodnight, Beautiful Women was awarded the 2013 Henfield Prize for Fiction and the 2016 Lotos Foundation Prize, and is a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, an Amazon Best Book of the Month (Literature and Fiction), and an Indie Next Great Readspick. Noyes was raised in Downeast Maine.

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