Geoffrey Forsyth graduated from The School
of the Art Institute of Chicago. His fiction has appeared in Other Voices, New Orleans
Review, CutBank, RHINO, and elsewhere. His story Mud appeared in
the 2007 Norton
Anthology New Sudden Fiction. He lives with his wife and
two children in La Grange Park, Illinois.
In the Land of the free (Rose Metal Press,
Metal Press Second Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest, 2008
with Geoffrey Forsyth
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Geoffrey Forsyth: I
began writing these stories nine years ago, about the time my wife and
I were having kids. These stories are as old as my children. They were
written between naps and feedings, and then they were written and
revised during school hours and before and after t-ball practice and
swim lessons. Sometimes I think they were written in my sleep.
TSR: Did you
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
GF: After the second or
third one I began thinking about the broader shape. I wanted, yes, a
collection, but I wanted them to hang together in a shapely way; I
wanted each to have a kind of relationship with the others, though not
so much as to overwhelm the reader with a larger story. In the end, it
is my belief that a short story of any kind should be able to exist
TSR: How did
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
GF: Maturation was
what I came to use as a guiding structure. A character is born in my
first story, then gradually the characters get older, more experienced.
It’s the ones I left out of the collection that I feel sorry about.
They just didn’t fit in with the rest, which has me right now sounding
like a mean kindergarten teacher. Still, I was after something that
would feel more whole or solid or unifying. The ones I cut are good
swimmers, though. I have faith they’ll be rescued some day.
TSR: What does the word "story"
mean to you?
question! To me, a story is anything that holds my attention. To be a
writer of a story, well…there’s the discovery of knowing what you knew
all along but couldn’t say it. That is very gratifying. But a story, to
me, is also that thing that’s keeping me from my children, my wife, my
job, my next meal. Reality—in other words.
TSR: Do you
have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?
of course. The reader I have in my mind is quite a bit bigger than me
and very muscular and hairy, and on top of that he’s a weapons expert,
and he listens to Death Metal or Death Clown Metal, or whatever you
call it. And anyway this guy is also a real sweetheart, deep down; he
volunteers his time at humane societies, and suchlike, and he loves his
mother and whatnot, and mostly he’s straight, but other times he’s gay,
and well, he’s very hard to please, so what you wind up doing is just
getting in there and giving it your best shot, and mostly I fail him,
but sometimes I don’t.
TSR: Is there
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your
anything at all?
GF:I like to know
where people are from, where they grew up. That stuff always interests
TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
GF:I don’t know. I
don’t know if people are buying
In The Land Of The Free. If they are buying it and
enjoying it, I would feel happy. If they are buying it, and they hate
it and want their money back, I will feel sad and mortified and
TSR: What are
you working on now?
GF:I have to come up
with a 55 word story by October, where I will read my 55 word story at
a bar in downtown Chicago for the Quickies Reading Series. So far it’s
going good. I’ve got four words. They’re all keepers.
TSR: What are
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
GF: When Grace
Paley died I bought that collection of all her stories. What a
wonderful book. What an artist she was! I also read Tobias Wolff’s The Night In Question.
What an artist he is! Brilliant! And I just finished the 2008 New Sudden Fiction from
America and Beyond edited by Shapard and Thomas. These
guys put together another beauty. Thanks a ton! This was fun.