Words in Place
published in anthologies as well as in online journals
She is the editor of Flash
with Gay Degani
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Gay Degani: The
stories I published in Pomegranate
came out of three years of writing and subbing, but only after years of
struggling to understand how to create a story that "works." For a
long time, I could write dialog, original description, a
twist or two, but I just couldn’t pull it together into one meaning piece of writing.
What I finally
realized is that I have to go back into my stories once I think they're done, ask myself some key questions, and then rewrite.
key questions include: what does my main character wants at the
beginning of the story, what keeps her from getting it, and what is revealed or learned.
like formula, and this is why so many writers avoid these
questions. However, I’ve found asking questions doesn’t dictate
answering in a formulaic way. It means a well-placed word—the perfect
word—or a precise phrase can be added to serve the story in this way.
Once I do this step in the
writing process, I’m able to layer in more layers of meaning which is
what most readers want.
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
GD: No. Not at all. My goal for the last few years has been to learn to write a story
that would resonate. I discovered during the rewriting process that I have
specific things I want to say, things about family, love, betrayal, relationships, choices, and disappointment.
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
I searched through my stories for a common denominator, I found I had
on mothers and daughters. I was a little surprised I had so many. I
the order and ultimately decided to rely on some deep instinct as to how
would transition one into the other. I did want to start with something
more hopeful like Listing Lisa because I tend to write stories that
are less so.
does the word "story"
mean to you?
are explorations of what an author thinks and feels about experience. And for
readers, stories allow them to understand what it's like to be someone
Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?
me, the reader comes into my process after I’ve had an idea and
developed it into
a draft. Once I have a feel for what a
story can be, I try to make certain the story is clear and unexpected.
As a reader, my favorite stories are deep
explorations of emotion and experience that deliver some kind of ah-ha
moment or surprise. Surprise, but set-up in the story so that it also
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?
GD: Which one did you like best and why?
TSR: How does
it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
GD: The "buying," in all honesty, hasn’t been huge, but I am grateful for the reactions
I’ve gotten from so many readers. People
seem to like the stories and often tell me they remember and think about
them days after they’ve read them. This, to me, feels like real
What are you working on now?
working on a second collection, this one called A Basic Truth about Some Girls, and just like everyone, I have a
novel in the works.
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
GD: Lorrie Moore’s Self-Help, Raymond Carver’s Where I’m Calling From, The Collected
Stories of Carole Shields, but I rarely read a whole collection through at one time.