Eddie Chuculate on Wikipedia.com

Eddie Chuculate worked as a journalist before earning a degree in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts. He won the O. Henry Prize in 2007 and has held a Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University. Currently, he is studying for an MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop

Short Story Collections

Cheyenne Madonna
(Black Sparrow Press, 2010)

reviewed by Loree Westron

Interview with Eddie Chuculate

The Short Review: How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?

Eddie Chuculate: From the time the first words in the book were written until publication acceptance took 15 years, then almost another year before it actually came out. This obviously wasn't worked on every single day, however, because I held full-time newspaper jobs across the United States and in Abu Dhabi. Gradually the book began to take its own shape and I finally could see the finish line in about 2008.

TSR: Did you have a collection in mind when you were writing them?

EC: No, I actually started off trying to write a novel, but my temperament is more suited to the short form.

TSR: How did you choose which stories to include and in what order?

EC: Chronologically for the most part. I had to leave out what I thought was a good story because it skewed the timeline. The first story was set in the 1800s, which I used as sort of a preface to the rest of the collection, which is set in the modern day. The early stories show the main character/narrator as a youngster, who gets older into adulthood as the stories progress.

TSR: What does the word "story" mean to you?

EC:  Tales. Jokes. Dramatizations of events based on true life or coming from the imagination. Reminds me of the play True West, written by Sam Shepard, when the character Lee asks the show-biz agent, and I'm paraphrasing here, "You don't really know have to write do you, to tell stories. I mean lots of guys have stories."

TSR: Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?

EC: I actually don't. I'm actually too busy thinking of the writing. To do so, it seems, would make it even more complicated.

TSR: Is there anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?

EC: Ask them if they were ever confused about something, did it all make sense, and what were their favorite parts.

TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?

EC: I try not to think about it. I try to stay down to earth. But it does create a good feeling when you see a review in the Irish Times or some other far-flung place. (I'm in the American Midwest, at the University of Iowa.) Then I see on the Internet where they have two copies of my book on hand at St. Mark's Bookshop on 31 Third Avenue in New York City's Manhattan, and kind of go, "Wow." Just picturing my book there. But you block that out of your mind eventually.

TSR: What are you working on now?

EC: I've got a couple things going. Working on that short story some more I mentioned earlier concerning a great Native American athlete; and I have a project in mind that might become a novel. I'm trying to weave a bunch of my interests or previous story ideas into one book.

TSR: What are the three most recent short story collections you've read?

EC: Our Story Begins, New and Selected Stories by Tobias Wolff; Circumnavigation by Steve Lattimore; and Kentucky Straight by Chris Offutt. I love going back rereading these books. I believe in trying to learn from the best.
find something to read: reviews
find something to read: interviews
find something to read: categories
find something to read: back issues
competitions & giveaways

Find out what other authors, from Aimee Bender to Sana Krasikov, said about their collections, what the word "story" means to them, and how it feels to know that people are buying your books! More interviews >>>