Ingrid Rojas Contreras’s first novel Fruit of the Drunken Tree was an Indie Next selection, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and a New York Times editor’s choice. Her essays and short stories have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Buzzfeed, Nylon, and Guernica, among others. She is the book columnist for KQED, the Bay Area’s NPR affiliate.
On November 16, she will be speaking at House of SpeakEasy’s Seriously Entertaining show, The Virtue of Vices, alongside Steve Almond, Alex Segura, and Cutter Wood. We spoke to Ingrid ahead of the show.
What is your earliest memory involving reading or writing?
Some of my earliest memories involve running down the stairs in the morning so I could snatch and smell the newspaper before anyone. I was addicted to the smell of newsprint. I remember impatiently looking at the letters, anxious to know what they said.
What is your favorite line from your current work?
“War always seemed distant from Bogota, like niebla descending on the hills and forests of the countryside and jungles. The way it approached us was like fog as well, without us realizing, until it sat embroiling everything around us.”
What is your favorite first line of a novel?
“He—for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it—was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters.”—Orlando, Virginia Woolf
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Read voraciously, deconstruct the books that you love, show up for your community, pay it forward, and write as much as you can.
What writer past or present do you wish you could eat dinner with?
Isabel Allende. I simply adore her.
What writer do you wish you could share with the world?
Not sure I understand the question. Like a writer who is not yet published? I love Juliana Delgado Lopera, her book is coming out next year from Feminist Press.
What are you reading right now?
I am reading Friday Black. It’s so good y’all.
What fictional character do you most closely identify with?
Alice in Wonderland. I once had an accident where I lost my memory and I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that things are somehow, possibly upside down/inside out?
If you could live inside a fictional world, which one would you choose?
I’d live in the house described by Borges where I could every once in a while peek into the cellar and look into the Aleph.
Are there any quotes you use to inspire you?
“Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go.”―Rebecca Solnit