Interview Alex DiFrancesco


What is a current project you are working on?

I’m currently working on a hybrid essay collection that’s set to be published in spring 2019 with Civil Coping Mechanisms Press. It combines investigative journalism, memoir, lyric essay, music writing and more to tell the story of the first five years of my gender transition.

What is the piece of writing advice, good or even bad, that you have received that has impacted you the most?

I spent almost ten years out of school, writing, between undergrad and graduate school. In one of my first fiction writing classes in undergrad, Jenny Offill gave everyone in the class what she called a “writer’s charm.” They were little plastic toys. Mine was a starfish. She told us that we should hold onto them, and every time we moved or cleaned our house and found them, we should reevaluate whether or not we still wanted to be a writer. So for ten years, I would pick up this physical item and think about how much I still wanted to write. I know that’s only very loosely advice, but it made me evaluate myself, my writing, and my choice to be a writer regularly.

What are some of the greatest influences upon your writing, whether other writers or outside influences?

I tend to be influenced by poetic musicians the most. Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Nick Cave, to name a few. I’m also very influenced by writers who aren’t afraid to experiment with genre, or dive deep into it, like Samuel Delany, David Mitchell, Indra Das, and Ursula le Guin.

Where did your inspiration for this piece come from? Is this darkness a common thread through your writing or is this piece experimental in that way?

It’s loosely based on an old French partisan song. I added some monsters. Most of my work is very dark. I’m actually experimenting with joy these days.

Can you recommend one book that you think everyone should read and tell us why?

Just one? I’m a big fan of most Italo Calvino books, but Cosmicomics blends sci-fi, math, and literature in ways I really love.