Author Q & A with John Rudoy
January 28, 2022
This week we are bringing you a bonus interview with scientist and writer, John Rudoy. John is interested in migration, tradition, and assimilation and what these broad concepts really mean for the individuals who go through them. His writing has appeared in Science Magazine and the Maine Underground Writer’s Anthology. His story “Winter Generation” appeared in Issue #5 ~ Autumn 2021.
We asked John to tell us some unique or surprising detail about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of his story. His response was as follows:
“The story is purely fiction, but it is inspired by events in my family’s history that I learned of when I discovered some old writing by my great grandfather. He wrote largely in Yiddish, but I was able to decipher it because years before my now wife and I took German classes together when we were dating (Yiddish is written in the Hebrew script but its vocabulary and grammar are largely drawn from German). She fled Sri Lanka during the civil war there and ended up on an island in the Caribbean where nearly everyone was multilingual, so learning random new languages was her idea of a good time. It feels appropriate that a member of one, relatively new diaspora ended up helping a member of another, much older one, discover his origins.”
John also elected to give a little more insight into something he discovered through writing this story.
“I am always interested in the setting a writer chooses for their stories. A setting is often a place you have lived in yourself, that you then choose to live in again, figuratively, while you write your story. What drives writers to choose the settings they do? I’m still not sure, but I surprised myself by settling on two places, Chicago in the winter, and the New England coast in the summer, that have both made very deep and very differently shaped impressions on me. I am not sure this is something I learned about myself so much as further questions I have about myself, but I’ll say that counts.”
We agree that setting is a key component in most, if not all, writing because it provides so much context. Turning a magnifying glass inward, we can learn a great deal about ourselves from the places we gravitate toward using in our stories and poems. We also agree that this introspection often leads to more questions than answers.
When we asked John what he thinks of when he hears the phrase “The Good Life,” his response was both astute and spot-on.
“The Good Life” raises the specter of ostentatiousness: champagne and yachts and shiny tuxedos. But “a good life” suggests a quotidian calm. A life that has worn tracks into the hardwood and the thresholds, and that knows, and is happy knowing, where its next step will fall. And to think some languages make do without articles! Don’t know how they do it.”
It is an important distinction indeed! That second sentiment is quite lovely and we can all aspire to feel that in our lives. Thanks for sharing, John, and thanks again for being a part of our 5th issue.
~The Good Life Review Team