Carter: Well, first of all, my mother made her living writing memoirs and extremely autobiographical novels about her family, and there were major ramifications from that. But she always told me to write whatever I had to, and not to worry. Now, when she saw the piece that hurt and offended her, she was very hurt and offended. I didn’t write it to do that. My love for them and my gratitude, I felt, showed through in my work. I felt that I never attacked them in my work that way. I had to write about growing up with the family I grew up with or I would have been somehow dishonest. But it was not my agenda to expose and destroy, or to hurt or offend. But there was some hurt and some offense taken.
Rumpus: Which story was it?
Carter: “The Bride.” It was supposed to be published as fiction. But it was rejected as fiction and sold as memoir. At the time I was really, really, really strapped for money, and I had to say, I don’t care what you call it, just publish it and pay me for my piece so I can pay my rent. I really was in no position to argue about the niceties of autobiographical fiction at that point in my life.
Rumpus: I’ve got all these stories I’m so afraid to tell. Like about how I grew up adjacent to affluence, but not from an affluent family myself. I had these step-sisters who had trust funds, and they had this grandmother who would give them thousands of dollars every year, and then she’d give me and my sister each a card at Chanukah with one crisp dollar bill in it.
[I'm thinking of Jane Austen publishing her books under the sobriquet 'A Lady'. I'm thinking of Sir Walter Scott, whose manuscripts were copied out by a friend before being sent to a publisher lest the handwriting be recognised; whose later books were published as by 'the Author of Waverley'. Perhaps Literature needs its Bourbaki.]
Emily Carter, author of Glory Goes and Get Some (the rest here)