New Author Spotlight: Jennifer Nestojko
What drew you to writing stories that move across genres? Is this a new direction for your writing?
I have always had an affinity for crossing genres and for weaving different influences together. I enjoy reclamation art, where objects are reused to create something new and unexpected; writing can be similar. I myself do not fit into one set of expectations, so I see no reason why my work should do so.
The theme for this issue is Betrayal. Did you write for the theme, or was your story something that you’d already completed that seemed to fit?
I already had the story before submitting it to Crossed Genres, and the theme of betrayal was a perfect match. We often think of betrayal in grander terms, but the daily betrayals, especially those that come from love or good intentions, have profound impact.
In “These Eyes Are Not My Own,” one woman’s quest for perfection is the enemy of another woman’s own good. This quiet conflict between two loves – selfish love and self-love – is often ignored in fiction in favor of showier displays of affection. What led you to choose a more intimate clash when writing this story?
I myself am disabled and I have experienced tension with those I love at times. I have friends who want for me to be whole and have expressed that in several ways, but ultimately I am who I am. I am much like Leah; while I would take healing, of course, I have come to terms with who I am. Fortunately, no one so close to me has a private lab and a predilection for cloning experiments.
The line between possession and care isn’t confined to romantic territory in “These Eyes Are Not My Own.” It also trespasses the dubious boundary between professional and personal lives, and the bleeding divide between body and identity. How much of that complexity did you plan for the story? And how much was an artifact of writing from experience?
A great deal of the story was borrowed from personal experience, but that experience was filtered deliberately. I wanted the story to cross and confuse those different boundaries because relationships and expectations are never simple. The connection of body with identity is an important concept; there is a divide between body and self in a lot of art and writing and philosophy, but I find it is not an easy separation to sustain.
Tell us something about your future writing projects. Are you developing more short stories? Do you have a novel in the works?
I am working on a series of poems and stories involving selkies. I am developing a story about a group of selkies biking through Latin America. I have a few other stories that are coming into being. I also play a great deal with different poetic forms.
Where is your favorite writing place? Can you draw us a visual picture of the kind of space you create for yourself when you write?
I am a teacher with a long commute and four very active young boys at home. I carve whatever space I can find, including in the classroom at the bookends of my days or in random Starbucks along my commute. I have a dream of locking myself in a room somewhere down the coast with redwoods about and a glimpse of the ocean.
What’s the question that you wish someone would ask, but no one ever has?
Would you like to sit down next Tuesday and work on a fabulous collaboration with me?
What’s the answer to that question?
Tuesday might be tough, but I’ll try to clear space. It depends on the person doing the asking, of course. I have collaborated with a few people, such as a cousin who does wonderful light paintings. He has created several pieces based on my poems and I have written several things inspired by specific works of his art; I would love to put those into a book or exhibit some time.
Is there anything I didn’t ask that you think is important or that readers might want to know?
I intend to put more of my work out into the world, so I hope we cross paths as well as genres again sometime soon.