interview: ava homaI’m happy to be able to bring you an interview with Canadian writer Ava Homa. Ava and I have been friends for a few years, so after the publication of her first collection of short stories, Echoes From the Other Land, I was excited to ask her to talk about her book, writing and reading on a writer’s blog.
Q: What inspired you to write Echoes From the Other Land?
A: I’m inspired by the pain in mine and my people’s lives, the oppressive rules under which Iranian people, especially women, magically survive and the humanity that surprisingly stays intact. I wanted to give these struggles, courage and resistance a voice, an authentic image as opposed the image the mainstream currently has of Iranian women.
Q: Speaking about Iranian women, your short stories are all focused on female characters. Which character in Echoes From the Other Land would you most want to be? And of course, why?
A: It would have to be Anis from “Fountain.” She is introverted but strong, smart, complicated, rebellious, accomplished and incredibly patient.
Q: Yeah, who wouldn’t want to have those kind of characteristics. Let’s shift gears here and talk about MA/MFA programs. I know you’re a graduate from the University of Windsor’s MA in English and Creative Writing (as am I). What’s your honest opinion about MFA programs or MA programs in Creative Writing? Do you think you have to graduate from one of these programs to be a writer today? What are the benefits/drawbacks based on your experiences?
A: You definitely don’t have to be a graduate from a Creative Writing program to be a writer, which is why I did not pursue my PhD. However, you have to write and read a great deal. MA programs make you do that and that’s the best side of it, in my opinion. Also, in a MA program you are exposed to a diverse type of writing, either by professor’s recommendation or what your peers write. Their feedback gives you a sense of how some potential readers will perceive your writing. The negative side of MA programs is that sometimes these things don’t happen. For example, feedback from peers sometimes become the opposite of constructive. Writing is subjective after all.
Q: Okay, so you had to read a lot in your MA program (me too!). That leads me to my next questions: what are your three favourite books and why?
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