Q & A with Connecticut Authors: Forsyth Harmon
October 7, 2022 • Features & News, Q & A

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When: October 23, 2022 | 3:00-5:00 p.m.
Where: Hartford Public Library


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COVID is still with us, although easing off a little, thank goodness. Did you have a favorite comfort genre to turn to when things were looking bleak? Something that lifted you away and to a different place for a while?

When things get difficult, I find a lot of comfort in detective fiction. During COVID, I reread the works of Raymond Chandler, chronologically, for the third time. I enjoy the suspense, the stylization, and the writing itself. Most recently, I’ve enjoyed Seishi Yokomizo and Keigo Higashino. I also love the ways in which the genre inspires Megan Abbott’s oeuvre.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I’m most inspired by people and the relationships between them.

Who made reading important to you?

I was raised by a single mother. She worked a lot. But every night, after she got home, we’d get in bed and read together. It was a calming, comforting ritual, and one I still practice. Every night before bed, I get in my pajamas, brush my teeth, turn out the lights, and read from a device in order to dilate the radius of my attention completely to the words before me.

What’s the last book that had you reading past your bedtime?

Little Fish by Casey Plett. The novel offers a beautiful balance of gorgeous writing, straightforward interiority, and real-to-the-ear dialogue. I especially loved the end. The last paragraph registered like a striking photograph I’ll never forget.

Who is the most supportive person in your life when it comes to your writing?

I met the novelist Sanaë Lemoine more than a decade ago, in graduate school. We were in both the first and final semesters of fiction workshop together. We continued to read one another’s work after graduation—and grew closer and closer friends over the years. Publishing a first novel didn’t come easy for me. It took many drafts and many rejections. I’m not sure I would have persisted if it hadn’t been for her encouragement.


Forsyth Harmon is the illustrator of The Art of the Affair by Catherine Lacey, and has collaborated with writers Alexander Chee, Hermione Hoby, Sanaë Lemoine, and Leslie Jamison. She is also the illustrator of the essay collection, Girlhood, by Melissa Febos. Forsyth’s work has been featured in The Believer, Tin House, Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Awl. She received an MFA from Columbia University and currently lives in New York.





Summer 1999. Long Island, New York. Bored, restless, and lonely, Ali never expected her life would change as dramatically as it did the day she walked into the local Stop & Shop. But she’s never met anyone like Justine, the store’s cashier. Justine is so tall and thin she looks almost two-dimensional, and there’s a dazzling mischief in her wide smile. “Her smile lit me up and exposed me all at once,” Ali admits. “Justine was the light shining on me and the dark shadow it cast, and I wanted to stand there forever in the relief of that contrast.”

Justine, Forsyth Harmon’s illustrated debut, is an intimate and unflinching portrait of American girlhood at the edge of adulthood—one in which obsession hastens heartbreak.

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