Radar Road: the Best of On Impulse highlights an exploration of twenty-first century narrative. In four collections that move from raw to refined, the On Impulse series invites the reader to contemplate how we use language now: online, in full-length books, and with each other. Morgan Kiger arranged this fifth collection to stand on its own while showcasing the series’s original trajectory from catharsis to craft.
Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m from a little town in Indiana. It has the best donuts anywhere, nut rolls, apple fritters. I’m sitting on my couch right now listening to an Emerson, Lake & Palmer song on repeat. At the moment I’m not sure I have the wherewithal to pursue a writing career, but I’m staring at a stuffed hedgehog which appears fairly encouraging.
Tell us about your book? How did it get started?
Radar Road is lovely. It started as a joke in 2010. I was making fun of Kindle books and a friend challenged me to try it. I thought it was beneath a literary writer, which I like to fancy myself. But I do love a challenge. I ended up doing a series of four ebooks, which grew into print and audio. It was quite the endless exploration of how one approaches the telling of things–events, places, the way we live–stories.
By the time I’d wandered through four books of ways things can be done we had quite a little of body of work. I put all the stories in a binder and mailed it to my friend Morgan in San Francisco. She says she’s not an editor, but she has exquisite taste and no qualms using her executive function. She ripped out any piece she didn’t want, arranged the rest, mailed it back in a cardboard envelope. I waited so impatiently for that manuscript. I don’t think I have ever been in a worse fit of suppressed insistence. But oh my word, when I opened that package and saw what she had done, I was completely taken.
How do you create your characters?
The characters present themselves. I don’t willfully create any. Some first aspect will come, though. Maybe the name, maybe the hair–an odd way of walking, a workplace. And I just stay there in my mind until the individual presents a little more information. It takes quite a while with most of them. They’re always disappearing.
What inspires and what got you started in writing?
I am often inspired by irritants. I have been writing since I was a child.
Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)
I write pretty much anywhere. I used to need more of a blinders-on mode. Now I find that I have to keep changing coffee shops if I really want to work. I make friends and end up talking. That’s a killer for the work. Can’t talk, can’t think–writing is that sweet spot right in between.
Music I do sometimes, usually trancey stuff, minimize the lyrics so the words can flow. I’m not saying I haven’t passed out at 2pm on the couch a time or two when I had it in mind to delve into the machinations of a novel, but to me the drunken writer is kind of a trope, especially the suicidal one. Lord knows we’d all rather not bother with most of what’s necessary, but it’s not impossible to put the commas where the copy editor says they should go.
To me writing is so much more about honoring an internal experience, evoking it, that there’s not much I put in–music, drink. It’s more about creating a constructive way to get it out.
How do you get your ideas for writing?
They are very like fire flies.
What do you like to read?
I mainly read non-fiction. When I read fiction I turn into a savage analytical terrier digging away at the thing and can’t much enjoy the story.
What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?
There’s a whole lot of reeling. Go ahead and get that out of the way, see what happens.
Anything else you’d like to share?
The writing is worth it.