Author Interview: Aimee Bender, The Color Master

Aimee Bender, author of The Color Master

BIC: What are some of the “teachable” moments in your book, The Color Master, that make it work well for a Community/Campus Reads program?

AB: Hmm, interesting question!  “The Fake Nazi” could become a discussion about what we do or don’t take responsibility for, as this man thinks of himself as a Nazi when he did nothing.  “Lemonade” is about teenagers and what it’s like to be one, and how we think everything is about us.  “The Devourings” is a story about marriage, and loss, and betrayal, as told through an ogre’s wife — the wife who accidentally let her husband eat their children. Mainly I think my writing offers a chance to discuss what resonated in a story, because the meaning isn’t immediately evident, and so my hope is that it’s ready and ripe for discussion.  

What’s funny to me today is how we don’t always know when we’ve made a connection.

The Color Master, Aimee BenderBIC: The stories in The Color Master often deal with the search for connection. Why do you think this theme resonates with readers?

AB: Well, I hope it does. I think it’s pretty central to the human experience — when we connect, and when we don’t. What’s funny to me today is how we don’t always know when we’ve made a connection — I mean, we know when it’s really clear but sometimes words spoken linger, or don’t, whether or not we mean them to. Sometimes it happens under our noses without awareness.

For some reason it makes me think of this story. I ran into a guy I knew in college about ten years out of college. He was telling me about what he was doing, and being supportive re my writing, and then he said, “I sometimes argue with you in my head about what you said that day about poetry.”  “What day?” I’d asked.  “That day on the quad,” he said, “when you said poetry should always rhyme.”

What?! I was shocked!  I’d said that? Now, that is not something I believe, but I suppose that day, at age 20, I believed it, and said it, and maybe even said it with some vehemence, and it had nestled in his head for years. What a strange moment of missed connection. Me, spouting a belief I barely believed, and now thoroughly do not believe, and him finding his own belief in the negative space as he argued with me. In my experience, these kinds of missed moments happen all the time.


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