Kevin Wilson is the author of the collection, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth (Ecco/ Harper Perennial, 2009), which received an Alex Award from the American Library Association and the Shirley Jackson Award. His fiction has appeared in Ploughshares, Tin House, One Story, Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere, and has appeared in four volumes of the New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best anthology. He has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the KHN Center for the Arts. He lives in Sewanee, Tennessee, with his wife, the poet Leigh Anne Couch, and his son, Griff, where he teaches fiction at the University of the South and helps run the Sewanee Writers’ Conference

Short Story Collections

Tunneling To the Center of the Earth
(Ecco/HarperPerennial, 2009)

reviewed by Tessa Mellas

Interview with Kevin Wilson

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

Kevin Wilson: It took about eight years. The earliest story in the collection was finished in '99 and the last story was written in 2007.

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

KW: I did not. It was honestly not something I considered for quite some time. The earliest stories in the collection were written as an undergrad and I was writing the stories for workshop, so I was really just trying to meet the requirements of my class. It wasn't until I'd written a good many stories that I thought I could put them together into something cohesive.

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

KW: I originally put together a collection that was almost twice as long as the final version. I was just picking what I thought was the best of my work, and I was being very generous in regards to what the "best" was. I gave that manuscript to my agent, Julie Barer, and she went through it and cut it down to the published version. She was thinking more about themes and style and it was really helpful to talk to her about making the collection a series of stories that might have thematic connections.

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

KW: I've been trying to think of something for this question and all I can come up with is "A narrative that's shorter than a novel." That's not quite what I think, but it's close enough.

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

KW: Not consciously, but I do think I have an idea of someone who wants to be entertained. And I try to satisfy that desire while also secretly trying to ruin the reader in some way.

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

KW: I cannot imagine a question I'd ask that would have an answer I'd be happy hearing.

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

KW: Nothing but good.

TSR: What are you working on now?

KW: I finished a novel this past fall and I've been trying to decompress enough to write something new. I am trying to work on outlines for another novel, but they keep falling apart. 

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

KW: Terror at 20,000 Feet by Richard Matheson ; A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan; Voodoo Heart by Scott Snyder. Matheson is just so much fun to read, so unnerving and sometimes so silly. Egan's book, which I think qualifies as a story collection, was amazing, one of the best things I read all year. And I reread Snyder's collection because I'm teaching it this semester and I was undone by how good it is.
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Find out what other authors, from Aimee Bender to Sana Krasikov, said about their collections, what the word "story" means to them, and how it feels to know that people are buying your books! More interviews >>>