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
with Kevin Wilson
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.