An Interview with Ruvanee Pietersz Vilhauer

Most of my interviews have been posted at Hothouse Magazine and then re-posted here. This summer I was approached by friend and writer, Ruvanee Pietersz Vilhauer, to interview her at R.kv.ry. Quarterly. Ruvanee's prose is elegant, deft, and surprising. Here is a snippet of the interview.

Karin C. Davidson:  Ruvanee, your story, “Craving,” is such a complicated and careful look at intimacy and, in a very restrained way, of sexuality. Sexuality is the theme of r.kv.r.y.’s Summer 2013 issue, and so I love that your story is included here. Would you speak about the origins of this story, how you came to write of this couple, exhausted and overwhelmed by their responsibilities of caring for the elderly, blessed and later unblessed by the presence of the young woman who comes to help them?

Ruvanee Pietersz Vilhauer: This story was influenced by an essay I had recently written, about an elderly relative’s struggle with dementia, but it arose primarily from my feeling exhausted by a set of administrative tasks at work—that had nothing to do with caring for the elderly—and wondering about the very human tendency to want an easy way out, and about the value of service and sacrifice. The idea of sacrifice—with its many negative as well as positive connotations—interests me; it is a theme I explore elsewhere as well.

KCD: “On the day Ivy Auntie went missing, Sriya Polgoda wished, once again, for more help.” This is the first line of “Craving,” an incredible first line in that it is deftly worded, each part so very simple, yet pointing straight into the conflict and the story’s heart. When you begin stories, do the drafted first lines lead you directly into the rest of the narrative, or do you find those intricate beginnings through revision?

RPV: Thank you for the kind words, Karin. There have been occasions when I’ve labored over first lines, revising wording and even the point at which a story begins. Most of the time, though, first lines come to me almost fully formed. Beginnings are much easier for me than endings, with which I struggle, revising over and over until I feel they are right.

Read the complete interview at