Today, The Rumpus published “The Whole World Is Desert.” This is the first story I wrote after I took a break from writing after I had my daughters. It was started in the desert, at a writing retreat in Desert Hot Springs, in an funky old resort, in the heat, in between dips in the hot springs and coaching sessions with our workshop leader, Rachel Resnick.
The voice is what came to me first, a bored teenage girl complaining about a trip with her mother. I knew I wanted to set it in the most incongruous place for this young girl. I’d been obsessed with Central Asia, especially Uzbekistan, since the late 1990s – and finally traveled there in 2010. And then I ran with the story, generating more than 35 pages and alternate scenes, until Beth Gilstrap helped me scale it down and pointed to the ending image.
This is but one of several stories which contain the same characters: “Dress Rehearsal” (also published in The Rumpus), “E Ticket” (published in Little Fiction), “Tuberose” (published in Atticus Review), “No Problem, No Problem” (published in Jellyfish Review), and “How I’ve Been Without You” (published in Cheap Pop).
I created a Pinterest board for this story, using images that inspired the story. Be glad that you did not sit through the original slide show of photos I took from Central Asia, during a very vodka-fueled party we had one Friday night to a packed house who thought that Uzbekistan was a mystery.