It may surprise you, as it did us, to learn that we citizens of the United States have not yet built ourselves a museum to honor our great writers. Luckily, The American Writers Museum aims to do just that in Chicago in 2016. In the meantime, artist Mia Funk is tasked with creating a group portrait of America’s finest authors. In this ongoing series, she presents her preliminary sketches, along with thoughts on, interviews with, and histories of her subjects. This week, she sketches and interviews Joyce Carol Oates.
MF: When you are creating characters, do they already have a strong presence in your mind’s eye?
JCO: Characters begin as voices, then gain presence by being viewed in others’ eyes. Characters define one another in dramatic contexts. It is often very exciting, when characters meet—out of their encounters, unanticipated stories can spring.