I came across an interview with Hanya Yanagihara on Electric Literature today. Her new novel, A Little Life, explores male friendships that are built on the mutual desire not to know too much. In the interview, she discusses her thoughts on the different emotional vocabularies men and women possess and expands on her interest in writing male characters. She says that “the only key to writing about characters who aren’t your race – or gender, or sexual orientation, or religion, for that matter – is not letting that otherness become the character’s defining trait.” These words were helpful to me in concretizing something I’ve been feeling but have never voiced. Another thought she expresses deals with a writer’s obligation to be compassionate: “Once we start calling people monsters, we start sacrificing our sense of curiosity, our obligation to ask how they became that way, and why they did what they did: life, and certainly fiction writing, is about being endlessly fascinated by the human condition – naming someone a monster is lazy; it allows you to stop thinking and questioning.” You can read the entire interview here.

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