Get the latest issue of Iron Horse Literary Review, then read Anne Valente’s fiction piece “Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down,” and be rewarded with both the excellent prose and the interview with her that follows. Valente discusses her inspiration for the piece: “This story did develop from so many recent news stories about school shootings, as well as the difficult of even imagining the pain for everyone involved. From the remove of watching on television or reading the newspaper, I felt overwhelmed but also guilty for feeling this, as if I had no right. After the Sandy Hook shooting in particular, I couldn’t stop thinking about the unbearable weight of that kind of grief and where that pressure can even go. From there emerged the image of a sorrow-turned-to-fire, of grief having no outlet but to burn everything down.”
More generally, you also learn about Valente, that she has always wanted to be a writer, and if she wasn’t a writer, according to the career aptitude test in her high school, she’d be a tree surgeon: “In retrospect, this doesn’t seem to far off the mark; when I’m not writing, I’m usually outside or wanting to be outside.” Currently, she is working on a full-length novel that grew out of this published story as well as a collection of short stories about the city of St. Louis.