CB: Now and then. “Dysfunctional Narratives” came out of my having noticed that a lot of the fiction I was reading in MFA programs and among undergraduates had very passive protagonists — characters who didn’t do anything or didn’t want to do anything. And I thought, “Well, where did that come from?” The “Against Epiphanies” essay arose from a sort of…what’s the word I want…oh I’ll just call it craze, in the mid-80s, for epiphanic endings. They were cropping up everywhere. I don’t know why. So yes, a lot of the essays came out of what I was noticing in my students’ writing. And in my own as well.
SL: Yeah. One of the big things I was taught in the craft of fiction is, “Your character needs to change.” There needs to be a change that occurs throughout the story. I think that might be part of the epiphany thing. We think that there needs to be this big sudden change where all of a sudden a whole new direction is developed. Do you feel that the protagonist does always need to change?