Allegra Hyde

How did you become a writer?

I didn’t grow up with my heart fixed on publishing books, but I gradually came to realize that my life would feel empty without writing. I’ve always loved language. Realizing I wanted to be a writer was like discovering you are in love with the person who’s been your best friend all along.

Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.).

I was lucky enough to study with Jim Shepard, Andrea Barrett, and Karen Russell during my time as an undergraduate at Williams College. They all had a tremendous impact on how I approach my own work. They taught me about the role research can play in fiction, as well as the essential process of revision. Also that it was okay to be playful in my writing.

When and where do you write?

I prefer to write in the morning, before the demands of the day become distracting. I also prefer to write where it’s quiet. And if I get to be really picky: at a desk with a view of a garden. Ultimately, though, I’ll write whenever and wherever I can.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a novel that expands upon one of the stories in my collection, Of This New World. It’s about a group of militant environmentalists striving and struggling to create an ideal community in the age of climate change. I’m drawn to narratives of utopian longing—that’s the theme of my first book—and I’m hoping this novel continues to explore the human impulse for a better world.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?

In general, I have the opposite problem: too many ideas and not enough time to pursue them all.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Be honest. In fiction this means pursuing an emotional truth—stripping back clichés and deeply considering what the human experience really entails. Sometimes that truth is ugly or scary or just hard to behold, but as writers it’s our job to face it.

What’s your advice to new writers?

Write in a way that you find fulfilling. Write in a way that you find frightening. Read what you find stimulating. Read what you find unfamiliar. Enjoy the process of learning and growing as a writer. The rest will follow.

Allegra Hyde is the author of Of This New World (University of Iowa Press, 2016), which won the John Simmons Short Fiction Award. Her stories and essays have appeared, or are forthcoming, in The Missouri Review, New England Review, Gettysburg Review, The Threepenny Review, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, as well as support from the Virginia G. Piper Center, the Jentel Artist Residency Program, The Island School, and the U.S. Fulbright Commission.