Guy Cranswick lives in Sydney and has also lived in London and Paris. Apart from English he speaks French and Italian - and survival German. He has written screenplays, a novel, My Wife, My Job, My Shoes, and a collection of stories, Corporate. His short fiction has been published in Canada, the UK, Ireland, and Australia.

Short Story Collections

(Lulu, 2010)

reviewed by A.J. Kirby

Interview with Guy Cranswick

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

Guy Cranswick: This collection, Corporate goes back a while. Like many writers I began with some ideas and then found I could not pursue them further, or I found other approaches as I was writing. So, the plan of a collection was put aside for long stretches but never over. The stories came out at various times and most of them are quite long, over six thousand words, which added another consideration. I had wanted to write fully developed stories, that is with a plot and a story, but the short fiction market mostly accepts pieces under two thousand words.

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

GC: Yes, very clearly when it formed in my mind. I wanted to give it a theme: of the body; the body in its many forms, which is one of the reasons it’s called Corporate. It’s not literally developed, except in two or three stories about the body, but the idea of the body is a sublimated theme. One story, called Being, has an unnamed narrator tell his life story and it becomes clearer that he has lived for over five hundred years as he recounts a series of stories from his life, starting as a young Italian merchant in the Renaissance until he is an aged recluse living in a ghost town on the edge of a desert.

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

GC: The choice I made on the basis that they appealed to me, that they were strong and interesting to read through and that in combination there was a variety that may hold the interest of a reader. On the order of the stories: this was simpler to do, I had an idea from reading other anthologies and adapting to my own; but I also have to say, it was largely influenced from music and from albums. That explains the variety I hope. The stories become more complex and perhaps darker to some degree, as one goes through the anthology.

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

GC:  Something that is open and flexible to all sorts of permutations. Like a song, it can actually be malleable. For me the best aspect of the story, as compared to a novel, is that it’s possible to be abstract, to use forms and language that may not be possible in a longer plotted work. They may not necessarily be experimental but do open possibilities to a writer; and make the writing stimulating.

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

GC:  No I don’t, not when I write. I write what seems like a good idea to me and one which has enough depth or interest to it. I want to know that it’s worth writing and by extension it may be worth reading.

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

GC: The reactions I have had so far are what I might have hoped for. The range of stories, the styles explored have intrigued and stayed with some readers. I like hearing the responses: they’re so different from each person. As the writer I start with my intentions and those are not the same as the interpretations from readers. It’s fascinating. I am pleased to hear that people find the stories resonate, that they linger, and are memorable.

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

GC: A combination of excitement, high anxiety and responsibility. Putting the work out there has been the objective for a while and then you hope its good and that people like them.

TSR: What are you working on now?

GC: I am finishing my second collection of fiction. It’s called How it all began How it all ended and comprises stories I have written over the last three to four years. About half the stories have been published internationally and I am really looking forward to bringing it all together in one book.

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

GC: I like to re-read and rediscover, so the Kundera and Moravia are known pleasures. Laughable Loves, Milan Kundera. Roman Tales, Albert Moravia, Selected Short Stories of William Faulkner
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