Welcome to our author interview series, Deviant Author Interviews! In this series, you’ll get to know the deviant minds behind some of New Orleans’s most talented writers through five rapid fire questions that are sure to bring out their idiosyncrasies. Get ready, because this isn’t your ordinary interview!
This interview is with Dixon Hearne. Dixon teaches and writes in the American South. Much of his writing draws greatly from the rich images in his daily life growing up along the graceful river traces and bayous in West Monroe, Louisiana. After many years of university teaching and writing for research journals, his interests turned toward fiction and poetry—and the challenge of writing in a different voice. He is the author several recent books, including Native Voices, Native Landsand Plantatia: High-toned and Lowdown Stories of the South, nominee for the Hemingway Foundation/PEN award and winner of the Creative Spirit Award-Platinum for best general fiction book. His work has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has received numerous other honors. He is editor of several recent anthologies, including A Quilt of Holidays and Thanksgiving to Christmas: A Patchwork of Stories. His work can be found widely in magazines, journals, and anthologies, including New Orleans Review, Louisiana Literature, Big Muddy, Cream City Review,Wisconsin Review, Post Road, New Plains Review, Weber-Contemporary West, Mature Living, Woodstock Revisited, The Southern Poetry Anthology: Louisiana, and elsewhere.Dixon is currently at work on a novel, new short story and poetry collections, and a series of interviews with American writers. He is a frequent presenter and an invited speaker at the Louisiana Book Festival and other events.
Check out Dixon’s website!
We caught up with Dixon about what scares him the most, the hardest thing he’s ever had to write, topics he refuses to write about, and his muse.
What do you think is the most overrated classic book and why?
I know I’ll get grief for this. Even though it was the first “best book” I ever read (and I still love the story), I think The Catcher in the Rye has been overrated as a literary work. It connects with every young generation because youth relate so easily to disaffection and disappointment with the adult world, the world that holds power of it — a truth portrayed so vividly in the protagonist Holden Caulfield. The story does not employ a lot of clever literary devices or intricate and difficult plot turns. It tells a singular story, a snapshot of a brief time and set of experiences — a tragicomedy. It captures the hearts and the angst of readers in a way no book before it had managed to do. It makes me question what criteria should differentiate “classic” from bestseller. That said, I’ve re-read it several times myself.
What scares you the most?
If your muse was a real person, what would it look like/be like?
What an amusing thing to ponder. I suppose he/she would look rather like Janus, able to help me clearly see and muse upon what is past, where I’ve been — and upon what lies ahead, what possibilities are out there, what I want. Naturally the faces would be strikingly beautiful or handsome, and the muse a truly benevolent, articulate and wise being. I dream in ideals!
What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to write and why?
My doctoral dissertation was a pretty rigorous workout, but at times a strangely euphoric experience. Next to that would be the bluebooks so prevalent in my undergraduate classes. It’s tough to contrive decent filler once you’ve answered a question five different ways — just to prove you know a thing or two. Same goes for research papers instructors weighed for a grade. As for “literary” things, sonnets are still a struggle for me — give me free verse and a glass of wine any day!
Name a topic you refuse to write about and why.
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