Catherine Evleshin's crisp, vivid writing graces the pages of the latest issue of Agave Magazine in the form of a short story entitled Maceo's Rumba. A former dancer, she neatly weaves the rhythms of dance into her writing, creating works that pulse with energy and meaning. She recently shared her unique perspective on fiction with us for this week's installment of Five Questions With....
AGAVE: As a former performer, researcher, and teacher, what motivates you to write?
CATHERINE EVLESHIN: As an “objective” researcher, I found I could not tell the stories that I knew were out there. Fiction can often reveal more profound truths. I went back and forth for some years, swinging deeper into the world of fiction.
What themes are you most interested in examining through writing?
I am concerned with environmental issues and social justice –intrigued with the near future. Most of my stories could be labeled political or science fiction or fantasy, but dance creeps in, because I can demonstrate setting and character best in the mode of celebration, especially since music and dance are so central to African and Latino cultures.
What role do you believe dance can play in literature?
That depends upon the author’s experience. I can spot a surface understanding not based on actual participation by the author. Not that she must be “professional,” just authentic.
"Maceo's Rumba" practically vibrates with energy. What you you believe is the key to maintaining a steady, elevated pace throughout the story?
“Maceo’s Rumba” is a paean to my favorite dance complex, the Afro-Cuban rumba, and a tribute to the Cuban artists and everyday people who suffer family separation, physical deprivation, and bureaucratic torment. African drums, Spanish poetry, flamenco passion, unique to Cuba and informing musical and dance styles throughout the Americas, even back to Africa. Alternately sensual, tender, combative, or comic, performed with fierce pride and synchronicity. I love what you said about the story vibrating with energy. That is because Havana itself does that. No one comes away from that city unchanged. I kept the pace by visualizing, dancing in my mind, if you will, the tension and rhythm of the city.
What experience would you like to give your reader?
You might ask, why not use film/video to illustrate dance. Been there, done that. I took on the challenge of fiction to do what no other medium can, get inside the head of the dancer, with the goal that the reader can vicariously experience the intensity.