BackStory: Five Questions with Sarah Arantza Amador

Ramparts of the Town of Aigues Mortes

BackStory: Five Questions with Sarah Arantza Amador
Author of In Dead Waters

What inspired you to write this ‘In Dead Waters’?

My parents were preparing for a trip to Marseille and Provence earlier this year, and I happened to read a startling piece of trivia about one of the towers in the fortified port town of Aigues-Mortes in their travel guide book. My mother told me: “you should write a story about that.” I said: “Maybe I will!” The story came together during a solo late-night road trip. I listened to one CD on loop, and 6 hours and 350 miles later, I had the beginning and end composed and memorized. I filled in the rest when I revisited the piece a couple of weeks later.

Who are your favourite historical fiction writers and why?

Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Italo Calvino, Clarice Lispector, Ramón J. Sender. I like my historical fiction fabulistic and fantastic. I like my historical accounts that way, too, and especially love records of European discovery in the New World caught somewhere in between the real and the imaginary, like Cabeza de Vaca’s Castaways and Catalina de Erauso’s memoirs.

If you could live for one year in any historical period, when and where would it be, and why?

This is a question that’s impossible to answer. I spent my entire childhood daydreaming about living in different periods and places and continue spending a lot of my adulthood doing the same! As I get older, I realize that it doesn’t really matter when or where I land if I were able to time-travel but how: if I’m not magically transported in the body of a man (or man-passing), I’m afraid that I wouldn’t want to travel to most times or places. As a woman, I feel very lucky to have been born in my time and place, however precarious it may still be.

What do you like most about writing flash?

I like best what is left unsaid in flash and hybrid work — the charge of an ellipsis and the countless what ifs. I like that hyperfictive quality of flash: it’s yours and the reader’s and you build worlds together.

How important is historical accuracy to you in your own writing?

Not at all. If I’m not left astounded and questioning my own grip on the real after finishing a piece, I’m really not interested (in what I read *or* write!).

Sarah Arantza Amador is a graduate of the Creative Writing BA program at UC Santa Cruz and is a former Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish and Latin American Literatures at NYU. She lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains with her dog Roscoe. She has new words forthcoming/published in CHEAP POP and FIVE:2:ONE‘s #thesideshow. You can find more examples of her fiction, scribbles, and oddities at She tweets @ArantzaSarah.

Image of the Ramparts of the Town of Aigues-Mortes, one of the Municipalities of Languedoc, from Project Gutenberg text 10940 via Wikimedia.