Interview with Carissa Alva, LACCD Student & Writer
By Nuala Lincke-Ivic

Nuala Lincke-Ivic: The female character in each of your two flash pieces feels "real" to me. In an economy of words, you create what seems like a "real" woman to me with a past and a life. What was in your mind when you created her?

Carissa Alva: This character had been sitting in my mind for quite some time, wrestling with different stories, and it was time to let her out. She was constructed out of my observations of the dynamics between women in this field of work. I have encountered individuals in my life so removed from my own experience that I took a deep interest and made sure to "notice" them. Their world, the prostitute or "ho" as they refer to one another, has fascinated me since "Pretty Woman", probably from my parents forbidding me to see it since it glamorized this lifestyle. This character is a woman who exists in this world, but is not it's cliche'. I wanted to make the distinction between that world and her own internal world, being cautious to separate her enough that she could casually exhibit the behaviors of these woman, while remaining isolated from the conformity of that crowd. I did this by creating an unspoken voice that is used with her subtle observations. She is textured and layered as the world she inhabits and at the same time finding herself succumbing to the dull void. It's a woman who is in command of her life and not a victim of it, and isn't at odds with her choices so much as she doesn't want to lose her sense of self. I wanted her to be able to be moved by life still, and thoughtful, but at the point in her life where she could shake it off and proceed without hesitation and shut it off when needed.

NLI: Who are some of your favorite writers?

CA: My favorite writers are Toni Morrison (whose words are like the living ivy wrapped around the old gates and buildings that she has built, lived in and have gone to ruins, all in one novel), Neil Gaiman- anyone who reads must read "Sandman" and his short story collections, Sylvia Plath -who has affected me since the moment I read "The Bell Jar", and Chuck Palahniuk.

NLI: As a writer, where have you been, and where are you going?

CA: Most of my writing, as a teenager, was the self-indulgent rhyming poetry of the confessional type. In my early twenties I abandoned that all together. I usually wrote beginnings to short stories, and never finished them. After I gained some inspiration from a horrific breakdown and it's subsequent aftermath, I went back into poetry, but more free verse. I lack the patience and focus to journal, and that's why I use poetry. I've completed one play in another class, and did some personal blogs, but nothing on a large scale. I've had a couple movie reviews published in school papers. I am burdened by severe anxiety and writer's block that knocks me back and leaves me completely blank. As a writer, I just want to push through this and create. The nuances of personality, the psychological warfare behind individual choices, movement of body, and character study is what I wish to convey in whatever I write.

Other Work:

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