A Writer’s Habits: Alex Roy

Photo credit: Roger J. Roy P'11

What type of writing do you do?
Fiction, especially fictional biography. As a student I do a good deal of academic writing as well.

Where is your favorite place to write?
Wesleyan.

What’s the first thing you wrote that you can remember?
The short story “Wild Infinity” was a Christmas gift to my mother and sister; I dictated it to my father, who had recently acquired our family’s first computer, a Gateway. This might have been around ’96. Many of my early efforts were “narratives” of sports teams, complete with detailed rosters and statistics.

How early did you begin writing?
I don’t know exactly. Circa ’96 is my best guess.

What’s your favorite thing that you have written?
“Profile of Mr. Vasyl I., 2002-2009” was a prizewinner and might be the best thing I’ve written, but I have a special fondness for “Gradus in the Pale Fire Index,” a brief academic note published in The Nabokovian which secured my incredibly obscure immortality.

Where did you find your subjects?
I’m still finding them. As for Vasyl I., part of the reader’s fun is in figuring out whom I modeled him on, so I had better not say.

What’s the best thing you’ve read recently?
“Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” by Jorge Luis Borges.

What writers have influenced you?
According to chaos theory, all of them. If you mean my favorites, they are Nabokov, Borges, and Bulgakov.

When you start writing, do you start with a complete story in mind or do you pursue an idea and see where it takes you?
The former.

How do you know when you’ve reached the end of a piece?
This makes it sound a bit like one monkeys around on the keyboard until one decides that enough is enough. A good ending is deliberate, and long foreseen.

How much do you consider the reader when you write?
You’ll never please everyone. Stephen King suggests having an “ideal reader” in mind, a person you know who admires your work, and writing for her; Nabokov says to imagine a room full of people wearing your own mask. I try to make my work accessible enough that at least seven or eight people might enjoy it.

Is there a particular person who you share your early drafts with?
Yes.

What has your favorite writing class at Wes been?
I’ve taken writing classes with Professor Cohen, Professor Greene, and Professor Bloom, and I’m going to name all three as favorites. Incidentally, this is the second triad of favorites I’ve given in this interview.

Do you hope to pursue writing in the future? How?
Yes. I don’t have a specific plan.

Alex Roy is a senior Psychology major. A Writer’s Habits is a series of interviews with student writers on campus.

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