Jody Lisberger lives in Exeter, Rhode Island. Her stories have been published in Fugue, Michigan Quarterly Review, Confrontation, Louisville Review, and Thema and have also won prizes at Quarterly West (finalist) and American Literary Review (third). Her 2008 story collection Remember Love was nominated for a National Book Award. She is currently revising a novel called You Don’t Know the Half of It and assembling a story collection called House Pets and Other People. Jody is a professor at the University of Rhode Island and on the fiction faculty of the low residency MFA in Writing Program at Spalding University.
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What’s on your nightstand right now?
Birds of Opulence by Crystal Wilkinson and Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.
Are you more likely to buy a print book or ebook?
Always a print book. I like to use the library as much as possible.
What book made the biggest impression on you as a kid?
As a young kid, I loved Harold and the Purple Crayon. I thought it was incredible that he could draw his own story. Later on, The Yearling and The Red Pony drew me in, partly because I loved animals (and still do); partly because I was a tomboy (and I guess I still am); and partly because those boy protagonists were named Jody, with a “y,” which is the way I spell my name.
Tell us about your writing routine. Do you have a favorite time or place to write?
I love to sit in my study and write on my desktop computer not only because the screen is bigger than a laptop and so I can see more at a time, but because I have three big windows that look out over someone else’s pasture and feel the pleasure of my aloneness and space. I’ve also gotten to the point that if I’m plunked anywhere with my laptop, I’ll dive into that with the same immersion I’ll dive into my desktop. In the summertime, when I’m not teaching, I’m happy to write all day. I need to be able to use 100% of my decision-making battery for writing, so summer is especially precious, especially now that I’m no longer Chair of a department. I’m lucky because my kids are grown and in the summer I can write without interruption. When I spend time with grandkids, I use the time they are in daycare or school to write. I mouth the words as I write, saying them quietly. During the college school year, I’m happiest if I can write every day for at least an hour during the week and several hours on the weekend. My routine? Sit in the same chair for writing at the same computer and open my file. Start. Starting draws me in.
Who’s your muse? Who or what inspires you?
The honesty and vigor of speaking the truth to get at the core of human being inspires me—I know, funny to emphasize the truth for a fiction writer, but for me the dignity of human life and human living inspire me to dig deep and trust in language and communication to achieve that clarity and truth.
Besides writing, what’s your passion?
I love to be outdoors. I’m the sort of person who watches the leaves come out each spring and marvels at nature’s persistence and beauty despite all the terrible things going on in the world right now. I love helping my children and grandchildren, too. To watch life unfolding is amazing.