Laura van den Berg came by the Origami Zoo the other day so we could chat about her upcoming chapbook, There Will Be No More Good Nights Without Good Nights. For this interview, we went and sat on the floor of the zoo’s dimly lit paper reptile room. As an origami python bent and folded around itself and the origami chameleon changed the color of its papery skin, Laura talked with us about strange pets, Rafalca and the best fortune cookie fortune she’s ever gotten.
Origami Zoo Press: If you were an animal in the Origami Zoo, what would you be?
Laura van den Berg: Each day, I aspire to live as the Honey Badger does.
OZP: Tell us a little bit about the stories in There Will Be No More Good Nights Without Good Nights.
LVDB: In 2007—or thereabouts—I took a short-short class with Pamela Painter, during my time at the MFA program at Emerson College. I had long been an appreciative reader of the form, and working on short-shorts for a semester made me want to spend more time writing them. Many of the stories in There Will Be… grew out of drafts written in that class.
OZP: A few of the stories in Good Nights center around strange pets (parakeets that speak French, box turtles that may or may not tell the future, etc.). Growing up, did you have a lot of strange pet experiences?
LVDB: Yes! In addition to the usual—regular cats, stray cats, dogs, gerbils, fish, etc—we had, at different times, in the urban suburbs or Orlando, FL, a wolf and a small flock of chickens, which actually turned out to be roosters.
OZP: If you could add an event to the Olympics (and compete in it), what would it be and why?
LVDB: Horse dancing! Who doesn’t want to be Rafalca?
OZP: What have you been reading lately?
OZP: Aside from Good Nights, what else is going on with your own writing? What are you working on?
LVDB: I recently finished two new projects, and now I’m diving into a third crazy thing, set in Cuba.
OZP: Good Nights’ title comes from a mysterious fortune cookie fortune found by a character in one of the stories. What’s the best fortune cookie fortune you’ve ever gotten?
LVDB: I once got one that said “you are not liked for who you are”—this was a long time ago, but that was the gist. Naturally this fortune led to intense insecurity. Do you just pretend to like me because I have a wolf as a pet? And so on.
You can pre-order Laura’s There Will Be No More Good Nights Without Good Nights, to be released September 10, here.