Bit of Space
Matty Stanfield lives in San Francisco. He has
just entered his forties and is none too happy about it. Aside from his
blog ramblings, this is his first foray into publishing his writings.
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Matty Stanfield: I'm
really not sure. I am always writing in one way or another: blogging,
journals, personal stories. I started thinking about pulling some of my
stories together regarding my battle with PTSD and the abuse I suffered
as a child in 2003. But, I don't think I seriously approached the
project until about two years ago. It was a struggle for me as the
flashbacks I suffer seem to cause me a range of problems -- the most
annoying of which is that I often have trouble with reading and
writing. Even now, after I have published this collection, I discovered
a couple of "type-o's" which is quite frustrating but I am looking at
it as a part of the process.
TSR: Did you
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
started off with my focus on the abuse I survived as a small child and
the challenges as an adult working through PSTD. However, I get through
things by finding the humor in them. The collection gradually took on
the shape of a humorous look at my life up to now. So the collection
touches on a wide range of experiences in my life in Texas, Boston, New
York and San Francisco. I pulled several stories dealing with some
serious issues and replaced them with comic reflections on experiences
and interactions as a teenager and an adult male. The collection most
definitely has a gay slant view of things, but I found that this, too,
took a secondary place in the stories. I think readers can relate to
the experiences of challenges one faces when growing up and struggling
with all the obstacles life places in our way. At least this is my
TSR: How did
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
touched on that in the second question. The order of the stories is a
bit experimental. I started off with about 120 stories, but cut it down
to 15 for the collection. I always had the idea for the title of the
collection and rather liked the idea that the stories would be arranged
in a random way -- similar in concept to the way I used to toss
assorted donut holes into a bag for the customers at the donut shop
when I was a kid.
I actually wrote down the
titles of my 15 stories on small pieces of paper, scrambled those
pieces, closed my eyes and pulled each title. This is how I put the
stories in order.
I had interest from two established publishers, but I have no agent and
they wanted to change the order of the stories to chronological with
dates. I had no interest in doing that. I do not think that sort of
organization would serve the collection well. A reader can open the
book at any point and just start reading.
A work without any order -- much like our lives. Or, at least like my
life. But, there is meaning and laughs to be had.
does the word "story"
mean to you?
but when I hear the word "story" I immediately think of tall buildings.
I suppose, to me, a story is an entertaining communication via a
specific perspective of and about an event.
have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?
Not really. I write for myself. I suppose that is why I have never
pursued publishers too much and the idea of self-publishing was so
exciting to me. Vain, perhaps but quite exciting.
I do, however, always hope to entertain and touch a reader when I
write. Though, I am not one for the "goosebump moment" or "easy
resolution" --- I hope my work touches the mind in a natural and
realistic way. Actually, I seldom write "fiction" --- I write about
what I encounter in life with a bit of fictionalization to protect both
the innocent and the guilty.
TSR: Is there
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection,
anything at all?
I'm not really too worried about your opinion of my writing. I'm really
concerned about what you think of the way I look. Do I look thin to
you? Yes, that is what I would ask someone who has just read my book.
Actually, I have asked that question to about 50 people. So far, people
are telling me I'm quite hot. This makes me feel swell and all soft
TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
It makes me a bit nervous. Two people recently asked me to sign my book
and I didn't know what to write or why they would care to have me write
in their books. I worry a lot that someone is going to ask me for a
refund. I've no money. I'd have to give them one of my shoes or
TSR: What are
you working on now?
Well, I'm actually still refining the other 105 stories that I decided
were not fit for this collection. I've also been working on a couple of
other odd little things here and there. And, of course, I'm always
blogging about one thing or another. There are a lot of questions I'd
like to ask Carly Simon. So, I just recently posted the most important
questions. So far, no answer, but fingers crossed. I sure hope that
those clouds in her coffee have blown away.
TSR: What are
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
MS: So Many Ways to Sleep Badly
by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, Runaway
by Alice Munro, The Nimrod Flip Out
by Etgar Keret
I love the way Mattilda writes and I find a great deal of strength in
his voice. This most recent collection was disorienting and fascinating
Alice Munro is just brilliant by any standard. Her writing haunts me
and often fills me with a sense of dread that keeps my eyes glued to
Keret almost makes me laugh until I read between, around and beneath