BackStory: Four Questions with D.E. Hardy
Author of What We Believed
What inspired you to write ‘What We Believed’?
This piece got its start in a phenomenal ekphrastic fiction workshop led by Meg Pokrass and Lorette Luzajic. In one exercise, I chose Rothko’s No. 8, 1952 as my inspiration. The painting is vibrant—a classic Rothko—yet it took a while to drop into the writing. I decided to do a little digging about what happened in 1952 and learned England got the bomb that year. Suddenly, the painting looked like the moment of detonation to me—but one inversely coloured to the real world. My mother was in elementary school in 1952, living in a tiny town in upstate New York. This piece imagines that classroom experience. The writing flew once I made these connections
What is your favourite piece of historical flash, prose poetry or hybrid work? What do you like about it?
Kevin Simmond’s The Monster I Am Today: Leontyne Price and a Life in Verse is a stunning hybrid work. He weaves American history and the life of opera singer Leontyne Price with his personal narrative so stunningly. Part prose; part poetry. It’s just brilliant.
What is your favourite part of the writing process? Your least favourite?
Oh, that’s easy. My *least* favorite stage is the first draft. Once I have that though, I’m a happy writer. Maybe the first draft isn’t usable and gets completely junked but having fully iterated my thoughts opens my mind and allows me to push through to the final piece—whatever that might be. My favorite part is when the writing flows—what joy!
What do you think is the most challenging aspect of writing historical flash?
One challenge is setting the time-period in the reader’s mind without the time-period eating the whole piece. Here, I relied on a few cultural touchstones: the advent of convenience foods, television commercials, and Superman. I used these to show the kids’ binary sense of the world and how they might have understood the Cold War. The most rewarding part of this piece has been the reaction of those who lived through the era, my mom saying, “yes, yes—that’s just how it was.”
D.E. Hardy’s work has appeared in X-R-A-Y Magazine, Lost Balloon, Sledgehammer Lit, and New World Writing, among others, and will be anthologized in Best Small Fictions 2022. She’s a staff reader for Chestnut Review, The Maine Review, and Quarterly West, and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her writing can be found at dehardywriter.com, and she can be followed on Twitter @dehardywriter.
Photograph of Mark Rothko’s No. 8, 1952 via WikiArt.