The Interview A Conversation with Mark Sundeen By David O’Connor Last summer, writer Mark Sundeen moved to Albuquerque as the Russo Chair in Creative Writing at the University of New Mexico—as well as the faculty advisor to the Blue Mesa Review. He is the author of Car Camping (2000), The Making of Toro (2003), The Man Who Quit Money (2012), and The Unsettlers (2017). He has won fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, The Montana Arts Council and The Utah Arts Council. A contributing editor for Outside Magazine, his work has appeared in the New York Times, The Believer, Vice, and McSweeney’s. David O’Connor sat down to speak with him about his work.
Mark Sundeen arrives on time at the coffee shop in Albuquerque with his rescue dog. We sit outside near the busy street. I’ve read all his books. I’ve prepared questions. He asks if the sound will record. This man has been interviewed before. He is professional. The previous night he hosted a party for his new writing students and colleagues. If he was any more laid back, he’d be horizontal. Then I realize, this is just experience. He reeks of intelligence. I want to understand his shift from experimental fiction to longform journalism and nonfiction. I want to know how he got here. I want the secret to his success. He takes off his shades and speaks slowly, occasionally pausing with insight. He is deliberate with words, open, generous, and sharp. Blue Mesa Review: How about a little free association to warm up… Mark Sundeen: We got some nice turquoise colored sunshades… we’ve got traffic and hot sun on the clean brick building…we’ve got shade… BMR: How about I say a word and you say a word? Utah. 25 | Issue 36