Alan McMonagle lives in Galway, Ireland,
and recently completed his MA in Creative Writing at NUIG. He has been
published in a number of journals including Crannog Magazine, The Stinging
Fly, Southword and Pindelyboz.
with Alan McMonagle
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Alan McMonagle: The Girl who liked Words was written in June 2005. Lots of Bad Things was finished in September 2008.
TSR: Did you
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
at all. Completing a single story is an accomplishment for me –
irrespective of how it is received by others. Something that did strike
me, however, is how the work accumulates over time. Some of the stories
also arrived in "pairs." Inevitably I began to detect patterns.
Patterns in voice, in mood, perspective, tone, style. Moments that
tethered stories to each other.
TSR: How did
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
are 16 stories in my collection, whittled down from a mighty pool of
20. I have a soft spot for the four that didn’t make it. One of them I
think is even quite good. Of those lucky sixteen, I chose the lead
story. After that I was happy with my publishers' suggested running
does the word "story"
mean to you?
are revelations, discoveries, confessions, little explosions. They
attempt to be of reality and, at the same time, to stretch reality. I
think they begin in a place before the writing begins. And end
somewhere after the writing ends. Many of my efforts eschew the classic
moment of epiphany. So early into a writing career I’m happy for my
characters to "emerge." It's that Flannery O’Connor thing of people
being the way they are despite what has happened as opposed to because
of what has happened. What is essential doesn't change I suppose is
what I am trying to say. And a story is a good way to eke out the
have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?
I think the answer is no. That said, when I am writing I don't leave
something alone until I can read it back to myself and get something
from it. My reasoning being, that if I can get something from it, I
think there is a fair chance someone else will. As to whom that someone
TSR: Is there
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection,
anything at all?
AM: What did you like, and why?
What didn't you like, and why?
TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
AM: It is very humbling to think that people are going to invest time in reading something I've written.
TSR: What are
you working on now?
I've spewed out almost 200 hundred pages of what was supposed to be my
scintillating arrival as a novelist. A couple of weeks ago I took a
look at what I've done and I’m fairly certain 197 and-a-half pages are
going in the bin. The remaining two and-a-half pages might make a good
TSR: What are
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
AM: Encounters by Michael Trussler;
Cathedral by Raymond Carver,
My Name is Aram by William Saroyan