Ursula Hegi (BSS #153)

Ursula Hegi is most recently the author of The Worst Thing I’ve Done.

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Contemplating the worst thing he’s ever done.

Author: Ursula Hegi

Subjects Discussed: Collage artist protagonists and collage-inspired novels, stream of consciousness and italics, using specific fonts, Mason’s voice as a pulse, how Hegi communicated with typographers, the problems with emailing manuscripts, characters representing a contentious unified whole, subverting the nuclear family structure, the layers that come from writing 50+ drafts, gestures involving shoulder blades, why there are so many water environments in Hegi’s work, kayaks, William Faulkner’s building, on whether or not a novel is “absolutely right,” the origins of the name Mason, working on an intuitive level, planning through revision, ellipses and pauses, the introduction of a protester into the narrative, the Tribe of the Barefoot Women, nasty fortune cookies, the peace symbol and Mercedes-Benz, confusion in semiotics, Bush and Hitler comparisons, the curtailing of rights in contemporary America, how Hegi varies her stylistic vernaculars, being driven by writing, and being a “method writer.”


Hegi: For example, to write from Annie’s point of view, I need to become Annie. To write from Opal’s point of view, I need to be nine years old. To write from Trudi Montag’s point of view in Stones from the River, I am her height. I feel her rage. I feel her bliss. I cannot write about feelings unless I go there with the characters. So sometimes I sit at my desk blushing, smiling, close to tears. But I do have to become each character. It’s like method acting.

Correspondent: Yeah. Interesting. Did you have any theatrical background?

Hegi: No. But I read about method acting when I was in my thirties. And I thought, “But that’s what I’ve been doing in my writing!”


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