Couch Conversations with William H. New – An Impromptu Interview

By Maryann Henck

CHARACTERS

WILLIAM H. NEW   renowned Canadian lit crit and author (as himself)

INTERVIEWER 1      Sabrina Völz

INTERVIEWER 2      Maria Moss

INTERVIEWER 3      Maryann Henck

 

UNIVERSITY LOBBY—SUMMER—DAY TIME

It’s a hot and humid July afternoon as the midday sun floods the windows of the lobby, but all is freezing cold inside thanks to a fully functioning air-conditioning system at the 13th International Conference on the Short Story in English at the University of Vienna. The three interviewers have just left a windowless and chilly lecture hall where William H. New gave a simultaneously academic and creative presentation that ignited the audience’s imagination. (And, no, it is not an oxymoron to be a “creative academic.” More about that in the interview.) Intrigued by William’s talk, the three interviewers persuade him to give them an impromptu interview on the lobby couch. During the coffee break between sessions, conference participants are milling about, desperately in search of a much needed caffeine jolt and some cookies to tide them over until lunch break. Every now and then, cacophonous coffee machines and chattering conference goers can be heard in the background.