How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Smith:I wrote them all over the span of about three years;
several of them were written when my son was a baby. During his
infancy, I wrote nothing but short-shorts; I found I could nurse him,
and then write a first draft as he napped. That year is a lovely blur
to me; I remember it well, but I was outside of the sun-up, sun-down
schedule so I honestly can't tell you the exact order in which they
were written. "Cherry" is probably the oldest one.
TSR: Did you
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
I think I always have the idea of a collection in the back of my mind
when I write stories or short-shorts. But I grouped these stories
later, when I was getting together something to send Rose Metal for the
competition. I looked over my work to see if I had a collection and I
actually discovered I probably have a few short-short collections in my
TSR: How did
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
I did not group them in chronological order. When I grouped them, I
wasn't thinking of the order in which I wrote them. I wasn't thinking
of time in a linear way when it came to the stories, either. I strove
to link them thematically; the stories are not about one single
character, and they are not linked by common characters, or places. But
I do think they are takes on similar situations, and themes. I was
pleased with the placement of the stories, and very happy when Rose
Metal agreed with all my choices. I hope that last story has a way of
informing the rest; I hope it invites my readers to go back, and read
the collection again.
TSR: Do you
have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?
I don't. I used to try to write for agents, or certain readers I
imagined impressing, and I think that got in the way. I write for the
story, for what feels true to me as I am writing it. I think my work
improved once I learned to do that, and it took me years to find my
voice. I do workshop many of my short-shorts with an online writing
group, and I know that has influenced them immensely. I have written
with these writers for years, so I trust them.
TSR: Is there
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your
anything at all?
What did you think of it?
TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
Sometimes, I still can't quite believe that strangers are reading my
work. Writing is an intimate process for me. That's something I love
about it. When I write, I'm not thinking of it out there in the larger
world. I'm usually at my computer, and the rest of the house is asleep.
If I thought about the students or Internet surfers who might come
across what I'm about to write, I'd probably stutter and stammer and
stop. But whenever I get a thoughtful email from a stranger, or read
someone else's insight into my stories, it feels delicious. Getting
published has been good for me; I am a more productive writer because
TSR: What are
you working on now?
I'm working on a novel, called Crumb Island. A small section of it
appears online in Juked, and another section is going to appear online
in Storyglossia. I have a lot of research ahead of me, but I'm in love
with two of the characters already. I wrote a novel when I was in my
mid-twenties and I'd never want to see it published now. But this, I
think this is the one. I have it in me, now.
And, of course, short-shorts. I write them whenever can.