Gary Schanbacher was raised amidst the rich
storytelling tradition of southeastern Virginia. Educated at
Randolph-Macon College and Old Dominion University, Schanbacher moved
to Colorado to continue his graduate studies at the University of
Colorado where he earned a PhD in economics and nurtured an emerging
love of fly-fishing. During his career in industry and academics, Gary
continued to pursue his literary interests. His stories have appeared
in numerous journals, such as Colorado Review, South Dakota Review, and
The William and Mary Review. He and his wife live in Littleton,
Colorado. Migration Patterns is his first collection of short fiction.
with Gary Schanbacher
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Gary Schanbacher: The
stories were written over a period of six or seven years. I work slowly
and revise endlessly. Plus, like most writers, I had a “real” job to
occupy 40-50 hours a week.
TSR: Did you
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
GS: No. I submitted to
the literary magazines, trying to establish credentials, and, to be
honest, to convince myself that I was a writer
TSR: How did
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
GS: During a
literary festival sponsored by Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, I
met a publisher who asked to read a collection of my stories. About the
same time, I was work-shopping a novella. An exercise in the workshop
involved the participants coming up with alternative titles to the
story, and one suggestion was “Migration Patterns.” Thinking about it
later, it occurred to me that several of my stories were thematically
linked around the idea of migration—geographical, emotional, and
spiritual. I submitted those stories to Fulcrum Publishing, and we
worked together during the editing process to determine order.
TSR: What does the word "story"
mean to you?
story to me is a distillation, a paring down to the essentials, where a
question is raised and the possibility of an answer suggested.
TSR: Do you
have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?
I write for myself, to kick around issues or themes or events that
capture my curiosity. If I do my job well, I assume that what intrigues
me might also interest others with similar tastes. In that sense, I do
have a general idea of the “type” of reader who might be receptive to
TSR: Is there
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your
anything at all?
GS: Does anything
ring false? In fact, I often do ask that question of reading groups and
TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
GS: I’m not sure
too many people are buying it. But seriously, I remember walking into a
bookstore, seeing it on the shelf, and suddenly realizing that someone
other than my family and critique circle might actually read it. The
thought panicked me beyond reason.
TSR: What are
you working on now?
GS: A novel, as
well as a few stories.
TSR: What are
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
GS: The Pale of Settlement by Margot Singer; The Lives of Rocks by Rick Bass; and, Our Former Lives in Art by Jennifer S. Davis