Carolyn Parkhurst is the author of the novels The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found and has published fiction in the North American Review, the Minnesota Review, the Hawai'i Review, and the Crescent Review. Parkurst received a B.A. from Wesleyan University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from American University. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and two children.
Carolyn Parkhurst's website
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Carolyn Parkhurst discusses her novel, Harmony, and how her own life influenced it.
Harmony is in part about raising a child with an autism spectrum disorder. You are the parent of a child with Asperger's. How did your own experience inform the novel?
While I was working on this book, I used to make a rather lame little joke whenever I started talking about the subject matter. I'd say, "So it's about a family that has a child on the autism spectrum. But their kid is a girl, so see? It's obviously fiction." And then I'd laugh a little too hard.
It's always tricky to answer the question of how a fiction writer's life intersects with her work; in my last novel, The Nobody's Album, I describe the life experience of a fiction writer as being "like butter in cookie dough: it's a crucial part of flavor and texture - you certainly couldn't leave it out - but if you've done it right, it can't be discerned as a separate element."
Which is just another way of saying this: my life is private, and I'm not always comfortable discussing which stories are "true" and which are not. But the fact is, I do have a son who has Asperger's, and any attempt to write ...
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