Q&A With Kayla Min Andrews
New Information about Upcoming Book Related News
Q&A With Kayla Min Andrews
I have the honor of doing this Q&A with writer Kayla Min Andrews. Kayla has a piece forthcoming from The Massachusetts Review. Kayla has been published in Cagibi, Halfway Down the Stairs & Asymptote. Kayla assisted Putnam on the posthumous publication of her mother’s novel The Fetishist that she helped edit the manuscript and write the afterword. Kayla is currently working on a novel.
Q: Kayla, what was it like taking part in having your late mothers second book, The Fetishist published, and would you like to tell the readers and I a little bit about your mothers’ book?
A: Sure! The novel follows three main characters: Kyoko, in her early twenties, a punk rock musician. She’s obsessed with avenging her mother’s death and the man she holds responsible for that is Daniel, 50, a classical violinist and a womanizer, specifically of Asian women. Daniel is at a point in his life where he’s realizing he’s miserable and he’s thinking about the one who got away, the love of his life, Alma, a classical cellist who is now struggling with a terminal illness. There’s suspense around will Kyoko get her revenge on Daniel first, or will Daniel have the chance to reconnect with Alma before she dies? It’s darkly funny, exuberantly written literary fiction with a bit of crime thriller woven in. And it explores big ideas like race and desire.
Working on this book has been emotionally intense, in a good way. I feel very connected to Mom, I feel her presence in a particularly pronounced way, as I tell people about her novel, or when I was doing the edits on the novel. Also, by doing these things, I’m sharing more of myself with the world, which Mom always encouraged me to do when she was alive. In a way, it feels like The Fetishist’s publication is achieving things Mom always wanted for me – making me feel more confident, more connected, more empowered to speak up and be myself. It makes me feel like Mom is still here, still looking after me and helping me grow. And it feels good to be able to honor her legacy by bringing her beautiful novel to readers who might enjoy it.
Q: In your bio it said you were currently writing your own novel. Is it too early to talk about it or would you like to share some details about it?
A: It’s about a mother-daughter relationship over time, in which the mother is a writer. I get to take my real-life observations and amplify and distort and re-invent them until I’ve processed them into fiction. I get to ask myself “What if?” and explore hypotheticals. I’m having fun! It’s definitely still early days, but I’ve made a lot of progress on it this year, especially thanks to Julia Phillips, my mentor at the magical Randolph MFA program.
Q: What was it like having your essays being published in The Massachusetts Review, Cagibi, Halfway Down the Stairs & Asymptote? What topics do these publications typically discuss in case anyone wanted to submit their work for them?
A: Having my work published in journals has been a great confidence-builder and boost of excitement each time. I definitely recommend submitting to literary journals to any aspiring writer. In my particular case, each publication so far has been different. Asymptote was for a 19th century Spanish short story that I translated into English. Asymptote is a great journal that focuses entirely on world literature and literary translation. Cagibi published a piece of my fiction. They publish fiction, nonfiction, and poems and are especially interested in relationship to place. Halfway Down the Stairs published a piece of my creative nonfiction, though they also publish all genres. Finally, I’m so excited to have a piece of creative nonfiction coming out in The Massachusetts Review in March 2024. They publish all genres and are interested in promoting social justice and equality through art.
Q: How long have you been a writer for, and what made you see that writing was what you were called to do?
A: Because my mom was a writer, I grew up simmering in the stew of writer-hood, haha. It was always around me; I had a front row seat to the writing life. I wrote stories as a kid and even through undergrad, but then I stopped from age 22-32. I’m not even sure why; maybe I felt like I needed to do something different from my mom, and/or maybe I was just afraid of failure. In any case, it was Mom’s death that jolted me into writing again. My forthcoming piece in The Massachusetts Review is about this.
I remember sitting with Mom in the hospice room – there were many quiet days spent sitting by her bed – how much I admired her for living, how she wanted to live, and how that was a source of solace now as she was dying. At least she felt proud of how she had lived. That led rather naturally to my reflecting that I wasn’t proud of how I was living, wasn’t living how I wanted to live. Which led me to wonder what I could do to change that, and the answer popped into my head quite naturally: Start writing.
That was almost five years ago now. Since then, I’ve never questioned that writing is what I am called to do.
Q: In your bio it said you taught English when you went to France? What was it like teaching French students English? Where is your favorite place in France?
A: I spent time in Paris when I was a college student, and I spent time in a small town in rural France as a teaching assistant. Of the two experiences, I much preferred Paris! I felt very free in Paris, people seemed to respond well to me, I was able to make French friends and enter a Parisian world that wasn’t touristy. My favorite place in France is Paris, specifically the neighborhoods around Canal Saint-Martin, Canal de l’Ourcq, and Parc de la Villette. A portion of my novel is set here.
In contrast, the small town where I taught English in Southeastern France was, unfortunately, not the best place for a 22-year-old to land. Not much of a nightlife, no one my age around. The nature was pretty though. I went on lots of long walks.