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Paddy O'Reilly

Website: PaddyOReilly.com.au

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.


Short story collections

The End of the World (University of Queensland Press, April 2007) 

Reviewed by Tania Hershman



Interview with Paddy O'Reilly

The Short Review: 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 it.

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?

POR:  The intense pleasure of getting to know another human being.

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

POR: I 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
collection, 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?

POR: Exhilarating 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.