Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz - feminist, revolutionary, historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
About Roxanne | Books | Papers | Interviews | Links | Contact
About Red Dirt
Interview with
Interview with
Danny Postel


Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Publisher: The University of Oklahoma Press
Available: February 2006
Format: Paper
Pages: 248
ISBN: 0-8061-3775-4
Price: $14.95



Interview with

Q: How did you begin writing? Did you intend to become an author, or do you have a specific reason or reasons for writing each book?
RD-O: I have written and thought of myself as a writer as long as I can remember. Although my family was extremely poor and rural and we had few books, my mother and father were both great storytellers, and later when I was in school, my mother started writing stories and publishing them in the weekly newspapers of nearby rural towns. I was an asthmatic and often at home alone with her on school days. It seemed natural that after doing the many housekeeping and farming chores that she would sit down and write for several hours. I chose to become a scholarly writer and studied history, completed the Ph.D. and have published several books and articles on the history of colonialism in the western hemisphere. My just published, "Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie," is a departure in that it is a memoir although I call it "life history," using my own life story and that of my family and community to tell the history of rural North America.

Q: What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
RD-O: I strongly favor books with poor and working class themes--Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, Knut Hansum, William Faulkner, Eudora Weldy, and more recently the work of Dorothy Allison and Jim Grimsley. I am also drawn to history and stories of marginal individuals and peoples and dysfunctional families, such as a lot of the work of the nineteenth century Russian writers, Tomas Mann, D.H. Lawrence, Jose Camilo Cela. I'm now reading the three new biographies of Ernesto Che Guevara (Jon Lee Anderson, Jorge Castaneda, Paco Ignacio Taibo 2nd) and J. Anthony Lukas's "Big Trouble," a historical study of the Industrial Workers of the World during the first two decades of this century. My grandfather was a Wobbly and my father is named after the Wobbly leaders (Moyer, Haywood, Pettibone, who were on trial in Boise during the summer of 1907 when he was born. I read a great deal and always have and have been influenced profoundly both in my life and thinking as well as my writing. During the past decade, working on the memoir, "Red Dirt," and attempting to tell history through a family story, I have been most influenced by the nonfiction work of Richard Slotkin (especially "Gunfighter Nation") and by the fiction of Afrikaner South African writers, especially Andre Brink, and by the bounty of fine writing from Asia, especially Salmon Rushdie.

Q: Could you describe the mundane details of writing: How many hours a day do you devote to writing? Do you write a draft on paper or at a keyboard (typewriter or computer)? Do you have a favorite location or time of day (or night) for writing? What do you do to avoid--or seek!--distractions?
RD-O: I write best in my own study during the early hours of the morning. The rest of the time I can do editing and revision, but the original writing pretty much takes place at my desk. I write all first drafts by hand on a lined legal pad, then revise on the computer. To write and even to edit and revise, I have to stay home, so when I travel I don't even try to write, except letters and some in a notebook.

Q: Do you meet your readers at book signings, conventions, or similar events? Do you interact with your readers electronically through e-mail or other online forums?
RD-O: I love to meet my readers in any setting or through mail and telephone. Lately, I have been doing a lot of readings and signings and really enjoy it, although I haven't been getting much writing done. I am a university teacher and love interaction with people which involves the intellect, imagination, and emotions. I'm not a lecturing kind of teacher, rather more interactive.

Q: When and how did you get started on the Net? Do you read any newsgroups such as rec.arts.books and rec.arts.sf.written, mailing lists, or other on-line forums? Do you use the Net for research--or is it just another time sink? Are you able to communicate with other writers or people you work with over the Net?
RD-O: I've been on the net for several years now, although I use it mainly for email and to read the daily news and reviews. I really love not having to subscribe to so many magazines I never finish reading.


Bookmark and Share  

About | Books | Papers | Interviews | Links | Contact