Interview of Soyna Larson as told to Tori Weston.
Please tell us about your background and how you came to Somerville?
I knew Boston was full of writers, so after college I hopped on a plane from Minnesota and never looked back. Writers here are wonderful-- kind, successful, and we cheer each other on. I especially love Somerville, which is weirder and more relaxed than other neighborhoods, and I can easily bike to readings, cafe's, and writing groups. Somerville really supports its artists, offering grants and subsidized workspace, which is essential as rising rent drives more writers away. I hope Somerville will do even more to retain them.
Have you always wanted to write?
I always wrote, though I didn't consider myself a Writer, and I didn't aspire to "become" one. Many kids love making up stories-- the adult versions are just the ones who never stopped. So yes-- Kid Sonya wrote poems on construction paper and stapled them into books. I wrote novels with long acknowledgement sections, thanking "The Pop-Tarts I Ate While Writing This," etc. My twin brother and I wrote plays, and forced our family to attend our performances. I remember walking through the "aisle" during intermission, serving more Pop-Tarts.
How old were you when you wrote your first story? What was it about?
I was eight. The story, called, "The Ostrich and the Pig," was about an ostrich and a pig who don't like each other. Very contentious. I spent a lot of time on the cover art.
Who or what most inspires your work?
My dad. He's full of strange wisdoms that often come to life in my fiction. Example: he says that when you're depressed, you attract people who like you depressed, and they will forever be trying to keep you that way. Same with being angry, sad, and so on. So if you want to be happy, you must make yourself happy, and attract the people who like you happy. This idea later became the first line of "Gabe Dove"-- "I was attracting men who liked me sad." My dad is my favorite person to talk about art with. He pays attention.
Being part of the staff at GrubStreet, how do you balance putting together events like Muse and Marketplace and your own work?
It's not easy. Writers have two jobs: 1.) Writing, and 2.) Not-Writing, with Money. If you're like me, it's easier to prioritize #2-- it's more secure, it comes with deadlines, and if you don't show up, you get in trouble. And I honestly love my #2 job-- it's an honor to serve my fellow writers, and to help them grow and connect in today's world. But it's important to remember that your #2 job is always just that-- Number 2.
Are there any topics or themes that continue to appear in your work?
Race, and the blindness of living a racially-privileged life. It's ripe stuff for fiction. There are so many layers, and they can be so dangerous.
What projects are you currently working on?
I'm working on a novel, which I care about very much. That's all I'll say, for now.
How does one find out about your work?