Renie Manfredi received her MFA from Indiana University, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and was a regional winner of Granta's Best American Novelists Under 40. Her short story collection, Where Love Leaves Us, won the Iowa Short Fiction Award. Her short stories have been published in The Mississippi Review, The Iowa Review, The Georgia Review, and the Pushcart Prize Anthology, and featured in NPR's "Selected Shorts" series.
Her other works include Above the Thunder, and Running Away with Frannie. Above the Thunder was awarded a Booksense/Independent Bookseller award and translated into Russian, Danish, Turkish, and several other languages.
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Renée Manfredi discusses the characters and themes found in her first novel, Above the Thunder.
All your characters struggle with loss, yet they all in their own way refuse
to surrender to it. Did that come as a surprise to you?
Every fictional character I can think of is defined by loss; there's no novel in which all the characters have plenty of everything. Yet some of the writers I most admireJane Austen, Michael Cunningham, Anne-Marie MacDonaldprovide hope in equal measure with loss. This is what I wanted for my characters.
Your eleven-year-old heroine is such an independent and captivating girl. Where did Flynn come from?
In the early drafts of the novel, Flynn was a fairly typical child. Because she was so hyper attuned to her environment, though, she began to draw in the other characters' strong emotions, and she became the one who always spoke the truth, even if the truth was more emotional than factual. Her eccentricity emerged in part from her tendency to say what the others were unable or unwilling to express.
Your novel isn't a comic one, yet a few of your scenes are extremely funny. How do humor and tragedy co-exist so comfortably in your writing?
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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