10 Questions for Alexandra Kulik & Julian Senn-Raemont
- By Edward Clifford
Through the window, the day probably looks less distant that it is, Sebastian decided. Or he himself wasn't ready to interact with it. Ones step into a new day changes the course of time, he read once on a sign at the mall. For today he chose a T-shirt with blue and gray geometric shapes, and loose underpants. He stared into the emptiness of Brighton Street, without having the apocalyptic sentiment that a personless street is an empty street, or any other train of thought. The sunlight strode in and out of the breaks in shade. He watched this with all his mind but no judgment. Sebastian was an innocent boy.
—from "Through the Window," Volume 61, Issue 2 (Summer 2020)
Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.
“My Day as a Chocolate Bar” was Alexandra’s first story. A true confection v. nature tale. Julian wrote a spoof called “Planet of the Grapes.”
What writer(s) or works have influenced the way you write now?
Alexandra: Right now, I’m all about Virginia Woolf’s The Waves. I’ve never read anything like it; the beauty there is beyond description. It’s an exhilarating tour of human feeling. Much like a John Cassavetes movie. Or one of the later Nick Cave albums. Those are the writers that are influencing me the most right now.
Julian: Thomas Pynchon, Raymond Chandler, Virginia Woolf, Anne Sexton.
What other professions have you worked in?
We’ve both been working in the field of childhood development and behavioral treatment for the past few years.
What did you want to be when you were young?
We both reached a dreamy kind of conclusion in our elementary years that we would be writers. Now, in our late 20s, we are still working to understand what exactly that means and how to surrender most earnestly to its enormous efforts.
What inspired you to write this piece?
Alexandra had the basic image of the plot while lying in bed. She wrote the first paragraph or so, then sent it to Julian. Thus it traveled, back and forth, as we wrote a little at a time, scraping off the excess, filling in the cracks of each others’ thought. Inspiration for many of the little details came unexpectedly from our work with on-the-spectrum youth. Some of it came from our own memories and childhood sensitivities.
Is there a city or place, real or imagined, that influences your writing?
It’s likely that a lot of our shared ideas and images come from the small town of McHenry, Illinois, where we grew up. A wonderful place to be a child, though we didn’t believe it at the time. It had everything—the rich, the poor, the jocks, the punks, the idyllic, the evil. Somehow we found ourselves in the middle of all these divides.
Is there any specific music that aids you through the writing or editing process?
Julian: Thinking of the sounds of water running, or still, or frozen, or evaporating. That’s what I want my writing to sound and feel like.
Alexandra: The forms and movements of music in general influence my developing “theory” of writing; but during the act itself, I require the volume of the world to be at a near zero. Some bird chirping is nice.
Who typically gets the first read of your work?
We usually first share our work with each other. Occasionally we send things to our mothers.
If you could work in another art form what would it be?
Alexandra has frequent fantasies of being a film and theatre director. She’d also like to master the art of gardening. Aside from writing, Julian has spent over a decade practicing and performing music.
What are you working on currently?
Julian is writing a novel about a son and his father at the beginning of spring in the Middle-American town of Green Apple Valley.
Alexandra is very slowly putting together a chapbook, titled “Call Them All Wildflowers.” It’s a love story. We’re also recording our second album.
ALEXANDRA KULIK and JULIAN SENN-RAEMONT are writers, music makers, and best friends currently residing in New York.