Episode 405: Change vs. Stasis: Character Development in Literary Fiction – Interview with Claire Stanford

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Claire Stanford. We’ll be talking about her debut novel Happy for You, a contemporary adult fiction novel grappling with tech, happiness, and what living authentically really means.

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In this episode Claire Stanford and I discuss:

  • The meaning of happiness, its relationship with social media, and how that plays out in her novel.
  • Why she classifies her novel as literary fiction as opposed to speculative.
  • How she navigated writing a novel about a character who is strongly opposed to change.

Plus, her #1 tip for writers.

About Claire Stanford

Claire Stanford’s fiction has appeared in Black Warrior Review, The Rumpus, Third Coast, Redivider, Paper Darts, and Tin House Flash Fridays, among other publications. Her work has received fellowships and grants from the Jerome Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, and the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences.

She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in English at UCLA, where she studies science fiction/speculative fiction, narrative theory, and novel theory. Born and raised in Berkeley, she lives in Los Angeles.

Her debut novel, Happy for You, will be published April 19, 2022.

You can find her on her website or follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

Happy for You

Four years into work on a still-unfinished philosophy dissertation, and anticipating a marriage proposal from her long-term boyfriend, Evelyn Kominsky Kumamoto feels stalled. Meanwhile, all around her, everyone else seems to be getting on with their lives: her corn-fed, relentlessly optimistic boyfriend, Jamie, has no hesitation about committing to a shared future, and even her reserved father is energized by a new relationship—his first since her mother’s passing.

Looking for a change, Evelyn accepts a job as a researcher at the third-most-popular internet company, where her team is tasked with developing an app that will help users quantify—and augment—their happiness. Confronting Silicon Valley’s norm-reinforcing algorithms and predominantly white culture, she struggles to find belonging: as a biracial person, as an Asian American, and as a person who doesn’t know how to perform social media’s vision of what romantic partnership, motherhood, and womanhood should look like. But when an unexpected development in her personal life upends her assumptions about the future, Evelyn must embark on a journey towards authentic happiness all her own.

If you decide to check out the book, we hope you’ll do so via this Amazon affiliate link, where if you choose to purchase via the link DIY MFA gets a referral fee at no cost to you. As always, thank you for supporting DIY MFA!

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