published four novels prior to this first collection of short
stories. He worked
on observation and exploration satellites for the space program, as a
photo-journalist, an assistant to a master chef, and a journalism
professor. He is the executive editor of Best New Writing
with Christopher Klim
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Christopher Klim: About a decade.
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
CK: Absolutely not. I'm primarily a novelists. Even my shorts are too long
for most literary journalist, although most were eventually published.
The first and last stories were written specifically to complete the
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
CK: Originally the title story was last. When my editor decided that it
should go first, this changed the order of all the others and one was
swapped out and replaced. I considered how they should present themselves
emotionally in the collection. My original choice, Girl in
Landscape, is the heaviest in a collection of sometimes humorous
stories. Reading that first might drive a reader away, while True
Surrealism gives you a mix of both.
does the word "story"
mean to you?
It means that you have something to say (engaging, relevant, poignant,
etc.) in the crowd or you ought to keep quiet about it.
Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?
CK: For the most part, I write about people in everyday life pushed to the
edges of society and/or themselves. My characters change by learning
something about themselves. I hope that any reader can see this.
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?
CK: Did you take something away from it? It's never anything specific. Over
the years, I've learned that the interpretations people have regarding my
work are only a transference of their own thoughts projected upon me.
Sometimes they come close to my thinking while writing the story, but
most often they do not. It's only important that people first enjoy the
story and then they are moved in some way. It's what you do later with
the things you learn now that matters.
TSR: How does
it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
CK: Pleased that I'm making a connection with people. Artists are needy
birds. A craftsman creates an exquisite table and walks away from it
knowing that it's a job well done. An artist appreciates that when he/she
sings, someone is listening. Knowing that makes you vulnerable to
criticism, but humbled by the praise.
What are you working on now?
CK: I'm finishing up a novel about the true story of the space shuttle
Challenger disaster. There are so many details still hidden about the
cause of the accident and the fate of the astronauts. For example, they
did not explode in the sky as commonly believed, but fell for over two
minutes watching the Atlantic Ocean get closer and closer. To make a
dense technical story, as well as personal journey through a national
disaster, accessible to the reader, I've written it as a novel. It was a
big, fat two-year project that's drawing to an end.
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
CK: Bear and His Daughter by Robert Stone, Misfits and Other Heroes by
Suzanne Burns, and a Jorge Luis Borges collection.