Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Marianela: I started writing as a teenager. At the time, I read a lot of short fiction and memoir; those are probably still my two favorite genres. I think Julio Cortázar and David Sedaris were probably the two writers whose work always made me want to write after reading it — Cortázar because he is so agile with language and pacing, and Sedaris because he made laughter out of mundane misery.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Marianela: Nell Zink, primarily, I think she’s just so smart. She writes like an alien who came down to earth and recognized familiar scenarios but then rearranged all the pieces slightly. There’s also not a single word out of place in any of her sentences.
Q3: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Marianela: No, I basically just can’t help it.
Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?
Marianela: There are a few different people: a great friend with whom I’ve been very close for about twelve years, who still reads a lot of what I write and gives feedback. We were fairly angry young women when we met, and I think each of us was the first person to take the other seriously, both in anger and in writing. Then another friend, the writer Eva Hagberg, whose work has been a huge influence on mine; we edit each other’s work frequently and really push each other and our ideas.
Q5: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing & did any travels away from home influence your work?
Marianela: I grew up partially in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and immigrated with my family to a small town in rural Tennessee where I spent my teens. Certainly I think that change gave me the ability to stand at a distance from almost anything, even the things in which I am most mired, which I think is essential for writing.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Marianela: I love swimming and cooking. I made some fish cakes recently with trout that my dad caught; they were delicious.
Q7: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far to you?
Marianela: I really love the obituary I wrote for Diego Maradona last year. I reread it recently and thought, “wow, I can’t believe I wrote this.”
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem/writing of yours or others?
Marianela: From Stephen Berg’s “As the Days Pass and Darken:” “Half asleep, I remember, / and it isn’t anything human / about you, it isn’t your / face or voice that I need. / I am older. As the days / pass and darken, some- / thing grows too strong in me / and begs on the street, / in rooms, everywhere.”
Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Marianela: I recently interviewed Jessica Hopper, whose music writing I find exhilarating, for a review I did of the second edition of her book The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic. The review is at Jacobin, and the interview is on my Substack.