Don’t Write Alone | Interviews

“The writing process was a bit chaotic”: Robert J. Dau Prize Winner Amy Haejung

Learn about Amy Haejung’s short story “Maria,” which was selected for ‘Best Debut Short Stories 2021.’

Best Debut Short Stories 2021: The PEN America Dau Prize

Waxwing Literary Journal.

Where did you find the idea for this story? What was your writing process like?

There are two main through lines in “Maria:” the moon’s unexplained disappearance and the narrator’s struggle to come to terms with growing apart from her friend M. In writing, which of these ideas came to you first? How would you describe their interplay?

At one point in the narrative, the narrator dreams about M: “I picked up a pair of scissors and began to cut [her hair], shorter and shorter, sheets of black falling to the floor, and then when she spun around I saw my own face.” What does the narrator find in her friendship with M, and what is lost when the friendship ends?

At the end of “Maria” the narrator realizes that her emotional turmoil over falling out of touch with M arises from “the version of [M] that lived between my brain and my skull, grew into my mind.” What role does the narrator play in fueling her own longing? If the narrator and M were to reconnect in real life, would it help the narrator attain some sort of resolution? Why or why not?

How has the Robert J. Dau Prize affected you?


What’s the best or worst writing advice you’ve ever received and why?

Finally, where do you discover new writing?