An Interview with Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez is a transfer student at UNC Charlotte where he is majoring in English with a minor in history. Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, he spent most of his early childhood moving up and down the east coast. In the fourth grade, he moved to Huntersville, North Carolina where he now calls home.

On a cold, rainy Friday, I sat down with Alex, in an unusually loud coffee shop, to talk about his writing and his plans for the future.

Photo by Leah Chapman

Photo by Leah Chapman

Leah Chapman: When did you know you wanted to become a writer?

Alex Rodriguez: I didn’t know until after I finished high school. I started out as a big reader. I also had a fascination with movies, so I would write screenplays on the side. I ended up making a few with my buddies. That’s where I first cut my teeth with writing. I would focus my attention on the structure of a screenplay. I had a really good story idea for a movie, but I didn’t know how to make it. Then I was like, wait a minute, why don’t I just turn this into a book? Then I started writing it like all the other books I have ever read.

LC: How do you want writing to play a role in your future?

AR: God, I hope somebody pays me for it. That would be nice.

LC: Do you want to be a novelist?

AR: I do, but I’m more comfortable with short stories and poetry. You can knock those out in a day, and they can still be as powerful as a novel. I am starting to move on to novel form, and hopefully *knocks on wood* I’ll get published.

LC: What inspired you to write Yeah, I Remember Brandy*?

AR: In high school, I’d heard about this girl who killed herself at another high school close to mine, and right after it happened people would talk about it and speak about her in a grieving sort of way, but not grieving, just using the language of grief, which is blameless if you really don’t know the person, how can you really get attached. It was just obviously a matter of protocol for them as well as me. We didn’t know the girl, we’d just heard about her, but still it just felt strange to have knowledge of someone’s death and just gloss over it like it was business as usual. Also, in college, I’d heard about a girl in a sorority who’d died of alcohol poisoning, and there was another lack of connection when talking about her, so I just sort of combined those two events into the experience of a narrator who was unable to disassociate himself from the accidental death of a peer.

LC: What inspired you to write The City and the Dawn?

AR: It’s about a past relationship of mine that didn’t end climactic or flashy, it just sort of petered out, me and the girl having to go our separate ways. The poem takes from that situation the fact that sometimes two things are inherently different and can’t possibly mesh well despite being seemingly compatible.

LC: What is the most important thing you’ve learned so far in your writing career?

AR:That’s tough. It’s a hard balance to follow correct form and do your own thing. You don’t want to get imprisoned by a certain form; otherwise, you become a genre writer and that’s no fun at all. I think it’s important not to make concessions for your own personal style. You do You. You express yourself and you put [your writing] out there. You have to be true to yourself and your story, and try not to lose it in any kind of mold.  Hand and hand to what I just said, don’t ever listen to critics.

LC: That’s all the questions I have. Do you have anything else you want to add?

AR: Go Niners!

 

*You can check out Alex’s short story Yeah, I Remember Brandy in the 2015 issue of Sanskrit.

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