Andrew Porter received his B.A. in English
from Vassar College and an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from the
University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His fiction has appeared in One
Story, Epoch, The Ontario Review, Prairie Schooner, The Antioch Review,
StoryQuarterly, The Threepenny Review, Others Voices, Story and The
Pushcart Prize Anthology, among others. Currently, Andrew lives in San
Antonio, where he is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at
The Theory of Light and Matter (University
of Georgia Press,
2007 Flannery O'Connor Award in Short Fiction
with Andrew Porter
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Andrew Porter That's
kind of a hard question to answer. On the one hand, there are a
couple of very old stories in this collection, stories that date all
the way back to the year I entered grad school. These stories were
among the few I was able to salvage after my computer was stolen and I
lost the vast majority of what was then my first collection of
stories. It took me several years to get back on track and start
writing again after that, and so the rest of the stories in the
collection date from 2001 on, and I probably finished most of these
stories by 2006. So I guess technically it took me about ten years to
write, but the majority of the stories were written in the past five
TSR: Did you
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
AP: Not at all. I mean,
I was thinking about a collection as the end
result of all my efforts, but I wasn't thinking about how the stories
were going to fit together as a whole until I had finished. I was just
working on one story at a time, trying to make that story the best
story it could be. It wasn't until I felt I had about ten or twelve
that were strong enough to include that I started thinking about how
these stories were actually going to work off one another.
TSR: How did
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
AP: The collection
could have probably been about twice as long had I
included all of the stories I had on my computer at the time, but I
wanted to make sure that each story in the collection was a story I
stood behind a hundred percent. I also wanted to choose stories that
fit together tonally and thematically, which meant that I had to cut
out a few of the published stories that I had originally planned to
As for the order, well, I just kind of went on instinct. It was hard
for me to resist the temptation to simply put all of the strongest
stories up front, which had been my original plan. Instead, I wanted
the collection, as a whole, to have some type of logical progression
to it, which meant that I had to think a lot about the way each story
worked off the story that came before it and after it. Of course, I
was working under the assumption that most readers would be reading
these stories in order, which I realize a lot of readers (including
myself) don't. In any event, I basically tried a lot of different
combinations until I found an order that seemed to make sense.
TSR: What does the word "story"
mean to you?
to cop out, but I've always loved V.S. Pritchett's definition of a
story—or, at least a short story—as "something glimpsed from the
corner of the eye, in passing" I don't think I could say it any better
TSR: Do you
have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?
of. There are certain people whose opinions matters to me a
lot—three close friends from Iowa and of course my girlfriend. I don't
know that I'm thinking about these people consciously as I'm writing
the story, but when I'm revising it I tend to gage whether or not I
feel the story is finished by whether or not I'm ready to show it to
one of them.
TSR: Is there
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your
anything at all?
AP: Which was your
favorite story? It's always interesting to hear the
answer to this question. Of course, if I was braver, I'd also ask
which story was your least favorite, but I'm not that brave.
TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
AP: It feels
amazing, especially when I get emails from random people who
have no connection to me. I mean, it's nice when people you know read
your book, but it's somehow more exciting when a total stranger does.
Those emails make my day.
TSR: What are
you working on now?
AP: A novel. I'd
say more about it, but I tend to be superstitious about
TSR: What are
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
AP: Charles D'Ambrosio's The Dead Fish Museum, Rebecca Curtis's Twenty
Grand and Other Stories and Julie Orringer's Breathing Under Water.
All three are brilliant, beautiful collections.