Hello! For our second interview Allie got together with Oreoluwa Arowobusoye (Ore A), a contributor in Issue 20 and undergraduate student at the University of Calgary where she studies Computer Science.
Allie: So Comp Sci? That’s an unexpected choice for a writer.
Ore A: Yeah, I think I might’ve been stockholmed into it. Actually, not really—I hated the first year, but it’s alright now. And my whole family is pretty science-y—my Mom is a nurse and my Dad is an engineer.
Allie: Does your degree bleed into your writing at all? Do you write science fiction?
Ore A: Not really. I wrote one story about a boy who thinks the new girl in school is an alien princess from Neptune, but she could also just be a foster child trying to invent a new world for herself. But other than that, my writing is usually more magic realist—a world where magic happens and everyone takes it in stride.
Allie: So, what are you working on now?
Ore A: It’s for my long manuscript class and it’s magic realist, and set in Quebec, but not real Quebec. In this world gyres appear randomly and can suck up whole houses and that’s just part of normal life. The story follows some girls who attend a Catholic school and the school is in the process of being sucked into a gyre. I planned for one of the girls to fall into it, but I’m eighty pages in and that hasn’t happened yet, so we’ll see.
Allie: That sounds interesting—but quite different from the piece that appeared in Issue 20.
Ore A: Yeah, it is. I have a confession—the story from Issue 20 is old. I wrote it in my first creative writing class, ENGL 366, two years ago, and my professor at the time said “no genre fiction.” I was new and scared—what counts as genre fiction? Isn’t everything in some genre? I think what she meant was no clichés—we were supposed to write a story we hadn’t read before, not a horror story that hits every plot point for tension or a fantasy novel with the kid who goes to save the world. And that makes sense—I’m trying to write stories that are new, that make people say “that’s weird, but interesting.” But when I wrote this story I was a little scared to write magic realism for the class because of the genre rule.
Allie: What do you read that makes you say “that’s weird, but interesting?”
Ore A: Neil Gaiman is one of my favorites—I love American Gods. But he’s one of the most mainstream authors I like. Some of my favorite writing comes from short story anthologies, like Bone Swans by C. S. E. Cooney and Meet me in the Moon Room by Ray Vukcevich.
Allie: What draws you to short stories?
Ore A: They’re a good length. They can have a nice and ambiguous ending and they tell the story. I have so many stories in my head, it’s like the whole thing just pops into my head ready to go and the problem is having the time to write them down. I don’t get writer’s block—there’s always a story. It’ll be nice to get back to my short stories after this long manuscript class is done.
Allie: Do you incorporate any theory into your stories?
Ore A: Well, as I’ve never taken a theory class I don’t have the background for explicit theory, but once in a while I’ll reread one of my stories and think “I guess that’s theory..?” For me the work is more about itself—but sometimes the characters in my stories are pieces of people I know—and not even intentionally! I was telling my friend about my piano teacher, and she’s read my recent work and she says “your piano teacher sounds a lot like Madame,” the French teacher at the Catholic school. I didn’t even realise until she pointed it out, but there it was.
Allie: Last question. What’s one story or character you want to write?
Ore A: I have so many stories I want to write! I jot down my ideas for them—one time I had probably 15 stories outlined but then I lost the journal. I’m a disorganised person. But I guess, thinking about the characters that are like people I know, I want to write about my family. Like my Mom—she’s a Pilates and headband wearing Mom. And my sister—we’re really close, but she’d probably be mad if I wrote her.
Allie: Thanks for talking to us here at Nōd Magazine!
Ore A: Thank you!