In Third Person:
April Ford’s writing has appeared in numerous print and online journals, including Grain, New Madrid, Ploughshares, Beecher’s, Atticus Review, SAND, Santa Fe Literary Review, and Gargoyle. Her poem “If I Have a Daughter” was a Finalist for this year’s Lascaux Prize in Poetry. Her story “Project Fumarase” is among the winning pieces featured in the 2016 Pushcart Prize anthology.
In 2013, David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author and creator of “Rambo,” selected April’s manuscript of stories, The Poor Children, as Grand Prizewinner for the Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Awards Program for Fiction. Earlier that year, The Poor Children was shortlisted for the international Scott Prize for a debut short story collection (Salt Publishing, UK). The collection was released worldwide in spring 2015 by SFWP.
April received her B.A. in Creative Writing and Professional Writing from Concordia University (Montreal, Quebec), and her M.F.A. in Fiction from Queens University of Charlotte (Charlotte, North Carolina). She has spent time at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts as a Robert Johnson Fellow, and at Ucross Foundation as a Writer in Residence. From 2010 – 2017, she taught French and creative writing at State University of New York at Oneonta, and she is now Coordinator of Membership Services and Communications for the Quebec Writers’ Federation.
Thanks for visiting my site! I’m April—animal welfare advocate, cake icing enthusiast, and unwavering wearer of flare-leg jeans in a skinny-leg fashion climate.
When people ask what I do for a living, I usually say “communications person and occasional editor.” Oftentimes, this prompts people to ask if I happen to be a writer, and my admission is oftentimes received with questions about what I write (“Literary fiction—I’m afraid you won’t find me next to Hilary Duff on the ‘What’s Hot’ bookshelf.”); what I write about (“Oh, you know, realistic things like terrible families, and people in general being terrible.”); why I write about these things (“Wish I knew!”); and what I plan to do with my life—kidding. I’m the only person who asks myself that ridiculous question.
I could say it all began when my second-grade teacher placed me in an afternoon program for gifted kids, supposedly due to my preference for reading The Black Stallion (all 21 books in the original series) in class over learning the names and locations of Canada’s provinces and territories. There were three other kids in the program that I can remember: A boy who was excellent at math, a girl who drew lovely crayon butterflies, and Eric, who could jump higher than anyone in the school. Today, I suspect such a group of introverted, hyper-focused children would be labeled “somewhere on the spectrum.”
But this story, although it really happened, is too easy. Too expected. Of course she was born a writer! Writers are born that way! Um, no. I was born a seven-pound blob of hollering baby girl, who went on to become an unremarkable child (gifted program aside), tween, and then teen (although things did start to get interesting around the time I turned 14), and it wasn’t until one afternoon in the early spring of 2002 when I turned to my then partner and said, very practically, “I don’t like my life. I need a change,” that I became a writer.
For a few months leading up to that point, I had been trying to fall in love with the prospect of a career in graphic design. Before that, I had aspired to become a serial killer profiler, and before that I had planned to become an equine veterinarian. Then there was that period between serial killer profiler and graphic designer when my dream was to become a Las Vegas showgirl. I finally decided “author of literary fiction” was my true calling, and it’s been a spectacular one so far.
Click here to hear me chat with Out of Bounds Radio Show host Tish Pearlman about the Eiffel Tower, ghosts, and handling difficult subjects in writing.
Growing up in Quebec during the 80s meant growing up with two mother tongues: English and French. I was a fluent speaker of both languages before I started kindergarten, and I received an excellent early education in French grammar. It wasn’t until I took a university course called “Grammar, Usage, and Style” that I realized I hadn’t had much of an early education in English. Yet there I was telling everyone I was an aspiring novelist.
I was stunned by how little I knew about my other mother tongue, and so for one year I forbade myself from writing creatively until I mastered the mechanics. How painful it was, judging myself as early as the first word I put on a page! But then eventually I wrote what I consider my first successful short story, “A Marmalade Cat for Jenny.” My self-afflicted year of syntax proved effective.
I love prose that’s sure of itself, whether it’s elegant like Ann Goldstein’s translation of The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante, or rambling and cocky like Russell Banks’s Rule of the Bone. I use prose to explore character, slip into the minds of people I’ve never met, lift the curtain during unexpected, awkward, and intimate moments, regardless of how this makes me or my characters seem to readers. Jonathan Franzen does this so expertly in his novel Freedom.
Edward St. Aubyn’s Lost For Words might be the funniest book I’ve ever read, and I’m always up for a night with Iris Murdoch. I struggle foremost with making things happen in my stories, so I occasionally consult Murdoch’s The Black Prince for tips on writing melodrama. When I’m writing fiction, I fuel myself with nonfiction, like Jon Ronson’s latest exercise in how the author can become the work. In general, don’t read as much as I should, I watch too much Netflix, and I don’t always write every day. That’s my process. What’s yours?