Paddy O'Reilly is a writer from Victoria,
Australia. Her work has been published and broadcast widely both in
Australia and internationally. The stories in The End of the World have
won a number of national and international story awards including The
Age, the Glen Eira My Brother Jack and Zoetrope All-Story' (USA).
Paddy's debut novel, The Factory, was also in the best books of the
year lists in Australian Book Review and the Sydney Morning Herald. She
has also written screenplays, been Asialink writer-in-residence in
Japan, a fellow at Varuna: the Writers' House, writer-in-residence at
Kelly Steps Cottage, Tasmania, and a full fellow at the Vermont Studio
Center, USA. Paddy spent several years living in Japan, working as a
copywriter and translator.
with Paddy O'Reilly
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Paddy O'Reilly: More
than ten years! I am a slow writer, and also in that time I wrote a
novel and a novella. But I always came back to stories.
TSR: Did you
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
POR: On the contrary, I'd
been told so many times that it was nearly impossible to publish short
stories in a collection that I was writing them individually and for
love only. I thought I would publish them in magazines and that would
be their whole life. Now, of course, we are in a wonderful time for
publishing story collections, and I feel lucky to be in the midst of
TSR: How did
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
POR: I decided
early to put only first person narrative stories into the book, told by
wildly different narrators in wildly different styles. Not just as an
indication of my split personality (!) but because one of the joys of
writing stories is the freedom to be anyone. I hoped readers would feel
that freedom too. As for order, that was a case of looking carefully at
how the stories held each other up. Kind of like a string of different
objects all tied together and trying to float.
TSR: What does the word "story"
mean to you?
intense pleasure of getting to know another human being.
TSR: Do you
have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?
have a different reader in mind for each story, just like the different
narrator. They coalesce in my mind at about the same time. Maybe
they're the same people?
TSR: Is there
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your
anything at all?
POR: All the
questions I can imagine leave open the possibility that someone will
tell me something I really don't want to hear about a work that is
published and can't be altered. So I'd rather sit here smiling blithely
in my ignorance.
TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your books?
and terrifying. Luckily, so far no one has demanded their money back.
TSR: What are
you working on now?
POR: I'm working on
another novel but of course I am also writing short stories. I will
always write short stories. I love short stories.
TSR: What are
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
POR: The Lost Salt Gift of Blood (again) by Alistair Macleod, The Boat by Nam Le, and a short collection of 4 stories in a zine called Look Down With Me by a young Australian writer, Jennifer Mills. All terrific.