her MA in English and Creative Writing from Hollins University. Her
fabulist fiction has been published online and in print in the U.S,
England, Australia and India, as well as recently nominated for both
the storySouth Million writers Award and Sundress Publications Best
of the Net. She was guest editor for Zoetrope All-Story extra in
2000. Her story Slut won third prize at the 2000 California
Writer’s Conference. Her second collection, People With Holes, will be published in 2012, and her third, This Time We're Awake, in 2013
(Aqueous Books, 2010)
by Angela Readman
This Time We're Awake (Forthcoming - Aqueous Books, 2013)
People With Holes
(Forthcoming - Pink Narcissus Press, 2012)
with Heather Fowler
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Heather Fowler: I wrote these stories at different times in my life, so it's quite lovely
how they have come together. One existed in early draft in 1997 and
several were written a few years later. The majority of the collection,
however, was written and came together when I realized I had a theme going
of magical realism connected with love; then I wrote toward that agenda.
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
HF: I did, in the later stages. I’ve been a writer who writes all different
genres of stories and has periodic amazed epiphanies, like: Oh, I should
put this group of stories together! This should be my dystopia collection,
for example. Or, say, I have a lot of stories about love and sorrow and
men. These would go nicely in a book.
That said, the stories in Suspended Heart are rather the jewels of my
heart, work that is very important to me. So it’s a pleasure to have
published this book as my debut collection.
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
HF: I have to give Aqueous Books publisher Cynthia Reeser credit for selecting
the Table of Contents and the ordering of the stories. The manuscript has
as many pieces as it did when I first submitted it, but she was open to looking
at other work and ultimately chose the stories she thought worked best
together, in some cases not selecting work that had been noted with honors
when first published due to her desire to keep a certain tone to the
manuscript. I’m very glad for that help and advice.
A lot of my more recent work has a little more edge, which you will see
when the next magical realism collection People with Holes is released. I
feel Suspended Heart is a gentler book, perfect for a debut collection.
It’s nice to have a book out that shows readers you are a writer with heart
does the word "story"
mean to you?
I like this question. I could answer it differently depending upon
words you put before it. If you mean in terms of a literary effort, a
"story" to me is a telling of a tale that includes the exploration of
motivations. But poems can be stories, often constrained to minimalism,
with lyrical flare. A voicemail can be a story, albeit lacking
Someone’s self summary of their situation is a story too, like a man
mutters: Baby need shoes.
Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?
HF: I’d like to think I do, but really I relinquish all control when it comes
to that. I usually have a reader in mind who I think may be offended by my
work. That said, perhaps that sort of reader just spurs me on to do more
of what I think they might not like. I’m rather perverse that way—and, at
the same time, frequently surprised by the wide array of people who seem to
enjoy what I release.
It’s possible that I think I am writing for women, about women, much of
the time, but so many men have written to say they enjoyed the work, I now
feel I simply write for readers who might enjoy my sense of duende or
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?
HF: I like to know which story is which reader’s favorite piece from the book.
I am excited to say that the answers I get vary so widely that this makes
me feel like this whole book cuts a wide swath.
TSR: How does
it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
HF: It feels wonderful, of course! I am donating all author’s proceeds from
the first year of book sales to my chosen charity in San Diego where I
live, which is a battered women and children’s shelter, so even if what I
give is relatively small, it’s wonderful that I can use my art to help a
cause—like I’m giving something back to my community.
What are you working on now?
HF: Oh, this and that, along with the usual closet elephant. I have a novel
called Beautiful Ape Girl Baby I’m working on. The new magical realism
collection is also in process. Additionally, there are several other short
fiction manuscripts I wish to finalize, literary, dystopic, etc., not to
mention organizing the poetry. I think that grows in piles while I sleep,
like there’s a poem elf. There are hundreds of poems I must put into books
or get out there.
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
HF: Corey Mesler’s Notes Toward the Story & Other Stories,
Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery and Other Stories
The Nimrod Flipout by Etgar Keret.