Ingrid Hill is the author of the short story collection Dixie Church Interstate Blues and the novel, Ursula, Under. She earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Iowa and has twice received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. She has twelve children, including two sets of twins. She lives in Iowa City.
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Among its other qualities,
Ursula, Under is a tour de force of historical detail. How did you
amass the knowledge that enabled you to write so richly of Chinese, Finnish,
and immigrant experiences?
When I was left a single mom with eleven children, I had to get a career to support them, so I went back to graduate school to be able to teach literature and writing at the college level. I needed two foreign languages as part of this program, and I was feeling a bit heady with both the impossibility and the necessity of this, so I asked for Swedish first. My father was Swedish-American, a sea captain, and I'd always wanted to study Swedish but never had a chance. As part of my program, I got to study in Sweden, and the Swedish history and culture classes really intrigued me, especially the era of Gustavus Adolphus.
I met my second husband in a writers' group here and we became friends. He went to China for a year to teach English teachers at a university there, and he invited me to visit. I was hooked. I had no explanation for my immediate and unexpected love for China, but in retrospect I think it was the enforced simplicity...
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