does the word "story"
mean to you?
SJ: A question. A gut punch. A kick in the ass.
have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?
don't. If I draft with a reader in mind, I have a tendency to try too
hard to get the reader to like me and, in the process, I lose focus on
the story. The writing tends to draw attention to itself and the story
can get buried. I choose words I like rather than the words the story
needs. For me, in the drafting stage, the story is the most important
thing. The writer's ego can't be involved and the writer can't be
concerned with how readers will judge a story. The story has to unfold
at its own pace. However, in the revision stage, I try to see the story
the way a reader would and cut and add as needed.
TSR: Is there
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection,
anything at all?
I think stories belong to readers, not to writers. Readers are smart
and if I have the good fortune to hear from them, I try to shut up and
listen. I think there's value in discovering what readers find worth
discussing. For example, I've heard from people who've discovered
themes and connections in One of These Things
that I didn't see. It's fantastic - I have the benefit of a new
perspective. That's the way it should be: I never want to stop seeing
these stories in new ways.
TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
SJ: It's thrilling and humbling.
TSR: What are
you working on now?
I'm starting work on a new collection. I can't tell you more because
I'm afraid if I talk about it, I won't need to write it. It's a bit
ridiculous, but I'm horribly superstitious that way.
I just finished an advance copy of Shellie Zacharia's Now Playing
which is forthcoming from Keyhole Press, I re-read Matt Bell's How the Broken Lead the Blind,
and I'm currently reading Wells Tower's Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned
. All three are fabulous.