What is the name of the piece that you have in Grabbed?
In Memoriam Ann
What was the inspiration for your piece? What compelled you to write it?
It’s a true story: my husband had a friend from grad school that I met when we were all actors in New York. In the early eighties, it was just a matter of course for women to be sexually harassed—strangers commenting on your appearance or telling you to smile, catcalls when you walked past a construction site—and sometimes it got physical. Ann was stunningly beautiful, so I’m sure she got more than her share. What made this incident memorable was her fierceness in fighting back. That was unexpected back then, especially from a seemingly demure southern woman.
Why did you choose this particular form or genre for this piece?
It was a small anecdote in scope, so I decided to write a very short piece. I’m not sure how one would label this, poem or lyrical prose. The borderlines of genre are blurry for me.
As a writer, do you feel obliged to share difficult experiences?
I don’t write out of obligation, I write out of what fascinates or compels me, the stories that keep nagging at me. Maybe that a kind of obligation, but it’s an obligation to the story.
Debra Dean is the bestselling author of four critically acclaimed books that have been published in twenty-one languages. Her debut novel, The Madonnas of Leningrad, was a New York Times Editors’ Choice, a #1 Booksense Pick, a Booklist Top Ten Novel, and an American Library Association Notable Book of the Year. Her newest book, Hidden Tapestry, tells the true story of Belgian-American artist Jan Yoors – childhood vagabond, wartime resistance fighter, New York bohemian – and the two women who agreed to share his life. New York Times bestselling author Ross King calls it “one of the most remarkable artistic stories of the twentieth century.” A native of Seattle, Debra and her husband live in Miami, where she teaches on the creative writing faculty at Florida International University.