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A Conversation with Särah Nour

Wild Musette was delighted to feature Särah Nour’s short story, Medusa at the Morgue, as the title piece for issue #1801 of the Wild Musette Journal. Paired with cover art from the amazing Angie Flanagan, Medusa at the Morgue tells the story of a young goddess in search of a career.

In addition to writing short stories, Särah also publishes poetry and paints. You can find out more about Särah at her website.

We asked Sarah about herself and her writing and this is what she said.

 

You work in poetry, short story, long form fiction, and painting (wow!). What do you find are the particular strengths of each medium? Is there anything that’s particularly hard to do in one medium?

Fiction is the most rewarding medium for me, because you can do so many things with it: you can entertain readers, educate them, make them think, and create characters they identify with. But the writing process—namely, agonizing over wording, grammar, story structure, etc.—is more work than fun. So I paint to give my mind a break. I don’t analyze or overthink painting as much: I just play around with shapes and colors.

I find poetry easier to write than fiction, because with poetry I can just convey an idea without building a whole story around it. I don’t need a plot, setting, or character: just a theme, a statement, or a feeling. Poems can tell stories, of course, but it’s not a requirement.

What is your process when working in fiction? Do you outline or use a planning tool?

I do write outlines and I try to plan my stories step-by-step, but there’s never any guarantee I’ll stick to the plan. I almost never write in a linear fashion: it’s all fragmented. If there’s a scene in my head, I scribble it down in one of my many notebooks. Eventually I string the scenes together to form some semblance of a coherent narrative.

You self-identify as Lebanese-American. What perspectives does that bring to your work?

Having grown up Lebanese in the predominantly-white Midwest, I’m likely to sympathize with people who are different: the Grinches, the Boo Radleys, the Lisbeth Salanders. Underdogs like Jane Eyre and Jon Snow—and of course, Medusa—have always appealed to me. So the theme of alienation is prevalent in my work.

How do you feel about bringing your own experiences and vulnerabilities into your work? Do you keep a wall up between the yourself and the work? Or do you lay it all out there in a bloody mess?

I think my experiences and vulnerabilities are pretty safe under the guise of fiction, especially when there’s fantasy involved. Half the time I don’t even recognize the personal details I put in my work until I reread it later. I suppose I’m laying myself bare by accident, but it’s reassuring that only those who know me well would be able to read between the lines.

What does the future hold for Särah Nour? What can we expect to see in the future?

Hopefully my name on a bestseller list. My long-term goal is to make a living by telling stories. But for the time being, I’m happy being a freelancer, recording audiobooks, and getting my name out there.

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