Jenny Halper's fiction has appeared in journals including Smokelong Quarterly, PANK, Frigg, Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Stories 2009, and is forthcoming in an anthology from Persea books. Jenny has written for the Boston Phoenix and Nylon Magazine, among others, and recently co-wrote a script with Susan Seidelman and adapted a novel for Pretty Pictures. She currently serves as Development Executive at Maven Pictures, and was previously Development Executive on films The Kids Are All Right and The Whistleblower. She lives in Brooklyn with her turtle, Herbert, plus lots of stray books picked up on Park Slope stoops, a ten-year-old VCR, and lots of Jolly Time Healthy Pop Kettle Corn.
Here's a short interview we conducted with Jenny recently about "Cyclone," her award-winning story, as well as her writing in general.
Congratulations to Jenny, and to all our blog readers, enjoy! ...
Q: Can you give everyone a few words about "Cyclone," your contest-winning submission? How did this story come about?
Well, the characters are from a terrible novella I was trying to write
a while ago. I tend to start a lot more than I can finish and when I
get stuck with one thing am unstuck about another. I wrote a draft of
this, I think, when I was trying to finish a story I was halfway
through and couldn't, so I went back to these characters and started
with the hot dog eating contest. Also, one of my best friends growing
up lived next to the train tracks and I was always kind of jealous and
wanted to imagine what it felt like to live there.
Q: What made you decide to become a writer?
I'm not sure -- probably the authors I loved in 7th, 8th, 9th grade -
Alice Hoffman, Anne Tyler, Pat Conroy, also Rosellen Brown, who I was
lucky enough to have as a professor and is amazing and I think one of
the things that keeps me working is getting to learn from authors I
really admire -- and of course the (very infrequent) feeling of
finally getting something intangible right. The first thing I remember
writing is an adaptation of Peter Pan when I was seven, but that was
only because I wanted something short enough that my friends could
perform at my birthday party, and that was only because I wanted to
play Wendy and wasn't a good enough actress to get cast in an actual
production. But that's not really a moment of decision - I don't
remember making a conscious decision. Sometimes I find it incredibly
difficult and sometimes I love it. Lately I've been thinking of
writing as putting together a puzzle and you have to create the
pieces, then make them fit. I have a very long way to go.
Q: What's next for you and your work?
I'm a little more than halfway through a collection of short stories
-- mostly I have a lot of revising to do on those. And I'm two thirds
of the way through what I'll call a longer work that will hopefully be
the first draft of a novel by 2012. I'm about to go back into a script
I sat on for a while, that I thought was done but I realized isn't.
That and there are a lot, a lot of books that are piled up around my
bed that I want to read.