Interview with Leah Hampton
photo by Carrie Hachadurian
Leah Hampton’s collection of short stories with the funny and troublesome title, F*ckface And Other Stories, was released by Henry Holt and Co in 2020. One of the themes we like best about F*ckface is articulated by the narrator in Leah's story “Boomers" — “None of this made the news.” The stories in this collection are grounded in rural Appalachia where the characters are charged with fixing things themselves because no one else is paying any attention, and no one else is going to do it for them. Tragedies like wildfires, dead bears in parking lots, or domestic violence are met with resilience and sometimes humor. The stories in F*ckface echo the complex realities of Appalachian life, even though national media often ignore that reality.
Leah Hampton is a graduate of the Michener Center for Writers and has been awarded UT-Austin’s Keene Prize for Literature, the James Hurst Prize for Fiction, and the Doris Betts Prize. She has held fellowships at Hedgebrook, the Adirondack Center for Writing, Wildacres, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University. Her work has appeared in Ecotone, McSweeney's, Electric Literature, storySouth, Literary Hub, and other places. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
We asked Leah to answer some questions about the stories in F*ckface and what it’s been like to release a debut collection in the midst of a global pandemic intensified with such political division and unrest.
Still: Could you talk about your early life and what influences there brought you to writing fiction?
Still: We’re sure this question is one you’ve answered a lot lately, but would you talk about what it’s like to launch a book of stories in the middle of a global pandemic when the country is also reckoning with systemic racism, police brutality, and political corruption? And what are your feelings about the role of the artist in all of this?
Still: What is one story from F*ckface that you particularly like? Why? Tell us about that story’s specific evolution, inspirations, achievements, or anything interesting that would help readers to know about that story.
Still: What have you created during the pandemic? Are you working on anything now? Could you tell us about it?
Still: Finally, we’d like to know what’s on your reading list. And what are you reading or what have you read recently that you’d recommend to others?