Interview with Christina Kapp

1/There are two plots at work in “The Tea Party” and both are filtered through a free-indirect perspective with the nurse, but she’s stressed and going through the motions of helping a patient die. One has to ask–how trustworthy is she?

Wow. Off with a bang. How trustworthy is she? Well, my first inclination is to think that it doesn’t matter whether she is trustworthy or not. In any story, the reader must take a leap of faith that the story is being told for a reason, and while we are not privy to that reason, it allows us access to something we might not otherwise see. Is this the story of a woman’s death, or a child’s birth? The nurse’s attentions are clearly split between the two, and neither process does she have any real control over and I think that’s the point. The trust in the story does not reside so much in the nurse, as it does in the process of life being outside of our control. The story’s truth resides in that powerlessness and the strange and crazy things we do in response to it.

2/The story opens with the nurse stating that “it is not her place to judge,” yet her stance changes after she interacts with her patient’s daughter. As an author, do you try to remain impartial to your characters’ behavior? Do you always succeed?

It’s hard to remain completely impartial, I think, as characters tend to do really shocking/ridiculous/stupid things. If I judge them, I think I judge myself just as severely, so maybe it’s fair. Characters are like crazy family members. You love them, but they’re embarrassing as all get out and it’s terrible to have to introduce them to your friends.

3/The one person who could shed some light on the plot’s events is the mother. What would she say if she could?

Honestly, I have no idea. I think, if she could go back to her healthy self, the whole scene would make her very sad. Dementia must be a dark, isolated, frightening place, and yet, there is an absurdity to it. Time and space collide, bringing moments together in strange, confusing, embarrassing, loud, weird ways, and I think that’s what I was trying to do with this story–turn a grieving, broken family inside out to find the place where it could show itself again, and maybe even find a touch of levity or a shred of hope.

4/Sum up your work in apt in five words: go!

Clean, cry, drink, dance, collapse.

Christina Kapp’s story “The Tea Party” appeared in the first print issue of apt, which can be purchased here.

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