Laura van den Berg was raised in Florida and
earned her MFA at Emerson College. Formerly an assistant editor at
Ploughshares, Laura is currently a fiction editor at West Branch and
the assistant editor of Memorious,
an online journal of new verse and fiction. She has taught writing at
Emerson College, Grub Street, and in PEN/New England's Freedom to Write
Program.Her fiction has or will soon appear in One Story, Boston Review, Epoch,
The Literary Review, American Short Fiction, StoryQuarterly, Best
American Nonrequired Reading 2008, Best New American Voices 2010,
and The Pushcart Prize
XXIV: Best of the Small Presses, among other publications.
What The World Will Look Like When All The Water Leaves Us
by Elaine Chiew
with Laura van den Berg
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Laura van den Berg: From
starting the first story to handing over the final manuscript to my
publisher, Dzanc Books, the collection took about 4 years.
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
at first, but after I had about half the stories written, I began to
see common themes and preoccupations and started considering the
possibility that a book could be taking shape.
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
LVDB: With the help of my agent, we decided the first and last stories initially, selecting Where We Must Be
to open the collection because it has a zany-ness to it that we hoped
would be eye-catching and the title story to conclude the book because
it was the longest and seemed like it might be a good "anchor." As for
everything in between, I tried to avoid putting stories side-by-side
that had stylistic or thematic overlap and staggered the collection’s
two third-person stories.
does the word "story"
mean to you?
whole world contained in a small amount of space
Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?
In fact, it’s very important for me to imagine writing into the
abyss, so to speak.
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?
always interested to know what people’s favorite and least favorite
stories in the collection are, since it usually varies from reader to
TSR: How does
it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
surreal and gratitude-inspiring.
What are you working on now?
at work on new stories and a novel, Find Me.
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
I did an independent study on the American short story with one of my
students at Gettysburg College this semester, so I’ve had the pleasure
of re-reading some amazing books. The last 3 I read were Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link, The Dead Fish Museum by Charles D’Ambrosio, and Birds of America by Lorrie Moore.