Contributor Spotlight: Amanda Kabak

“Clara” by Amanda Kabak appeared in Issue 16 and can be read here.

We’d love to hear a little more about “Clara.”

I try to inhabit all sorts of different people in my writing: young and old, male and female, gay and straight, artistic and scientific. In this piece, I really wanted to get the voice of this big, strong man exactly right. In fact, he wasn’t a big, strong man when I started this but grew into one over many revisions. I wanted his body to be an integral part of his character, his size (so different from me) to be real and present. I love that it ended up being appropriate to have him and his best friend physically fight in a disasterous sort of way.

What was the most difficult part of this story?

Considering I started this story close to 15 years ago, pretty much all of it! I think it was mostly the difficulty of tiptoeing around the lines of knowledge, secrets, and disavowels in the story, of having the reader know something different from what the narrator knows. Then, how do you get a reader to understand that the pain of a certain kind of betrayal can be laced with an equal but opposite pain of empathy for the one you love that is suffering.

Recommend a book for us which was published within the last decade.

You mean besides my own novel, The Mathematics of Change, which was published in June? *wink* A couple years ago, I gulped down the first half of Miriam Toew’s All My Puny Sorrows on a cross-country flight then finished the rest when I got to my hotel. Tragically funny, which is rare and wonderful.

If you could have a drink with any living author, who would it be?

Ursula LeGuin. Pragmatic, visionary, literary force with a wealth of life experience that has only served to open her mind more than it already was.

What are you working on now? What’s next?

I’ve got a finished novel I’m shopping around and another one in the works, which given historical trends, will be consuming me for the next couple years, at least.

Our thanks to Amanda for taking the time to answer a few questions and share her work. Read her story, “Clara,”  here:


Amanda Kabak is the author of the novel The Mathematics of Change and has had stories published in Arcturus, Midwestern Gothic, The Harpoon Review, Perceptions Magazine, and other print and online periodicals. She was the recipient of the Lascaux Review fiction award as well as the Al-Simāk award for fiction from Arcturus. She was awarded the Kentucky Women Writer’s Conference’s Betty Gabehart prize and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.