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Did your instructors try to rein in your wilder instincts? That was a big struggle, trying to get those ratios right.

Like a version of “blue doesn’t show on blue.” You want to have it feel real enough to a reader so that they care about what’s happening within the confines of that story—you don’t want the surreal elements to totally remove the story from the world of consequence. MJ: Because when you’re a kid, it’s bubbling out all the time, but as we get older a lot of things come in the way. I was just down there and there were all these posters all over Miami that say, “Wanted: Giant African Snail.” Or there was like a plague of pythons loose. My backyard was replete with madness, it just grew indigenously in South Florida.The best ones, whatever I feel like I’m writing about, some other secret thing will begin to come into focus.MJ: You have a knack for making the everyday seem remarkable or surreal..) MJ: The frontier figures pretty prominently in your writing—the Great Plains, the homesteading era, unexplored parts of the Everglades, the Antarctic. KR: People will say the Everglades are like a curated, museum version of what they were, but that place feels genuinely ancient and foreign to me every time I go.And it’s such a stark frontier, because you enter this strip mall, faceless, Burger King world, and then you’re in the swamp.

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