Karen Joy Fowler
the author of five novels, including The
Jane Austen Book Club.
Her novel Sister Noon
was a finalist for the 2001 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, and her
short story collection Black
Glass won the World
Fantasy Award. She lives in Santa Cruz California.
with Karen Joy Fowler
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Karen Joy Fowler: At
a guess, (I can't manage the actual math) maybe 15 years separate the
earliest story in the collection from the latest. But a couple of them
are recent rewrites, done for this book, of stories I published in
slightly or dramatically different forms some time ago. So the
chronology gets confusing.
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
not. I think I would have tried to include a few lighter, happier
pieces if I'd been thinking in aggregate. I was surprised by how dark
the tone was when you put them altogether. I'm actually a reasonably
cheerful person, day to day. Though the state of the world is always
cause for alarm and depression.
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
relied heavily on my publishers -- Gavin Grant and Kelly Link -- to
make these decisions. Although there is much agreement that I have
written stronger stories and weaker stories, I find little agreement as
to which are which. And I myself can't tell at all. So I asked Kelly
and Gavin to choose only stronger stories, within their own
constraints, which were that they wanted to stick to work that hadn't
been collected before.
does the word "story"
mean to you?
KJF: My immediate free-association image is of someone talking to me. They
are telling me something that happened to them or to someone they know
or to someone someone they know knows. There are probably drinks
Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?
KJF: Sometimes. Sometimes I'm directing a story at a particular person.
This is helpful in knowing what to include and what to leave out. But
sometimes I'm just trying to please myself. What I am always
doing is trying to decide and control what the reader knows and doesn't
know at any given point in the story. So to that extent, I always have a
reader, if not a specific reader, in mind.
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?
KJF: I'm curious as to what people think they know about me after reading my
work. But I don't actually want to know. So I would never ask. I'm
TSR: How does
it feel knowing that people are buying your books?
What are you working on now?
KJF: I'm working on a novel. I hope I'm reaching the end game with it, but I've hoped that before.
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
KJF: Claire Light's Slightly Behind and to the Left,
L. Timmel Duchamp's Never at Home,
Holly Black's The Poison Eaters.