SusanTepper.com

Susan Tepper grew up on Long Island. Her previous books What May Have Been: Letters of Jackson Pollock & Dori G and Deer & Other Stories are set on or tied to Long Island. Before settling down to study writing, Tepper was an actor, flight attendant, marketing manager, tour guide, singer, television producer, interior decorator, rescue worker and more.


Short Story Collections

From the               Umberplatzen
(Wilderness House Press, 2012)

reviewed by Alex Thornber

Deer and Other Stories
(Wilderness House Press, 2009)

reviewed by Alex Thornber

Interview with Susan Tepper (2012)

The Short Review: How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?

Susan Tepper: Starting around April of last year, I wrote the first flash-fiction. It got published pretty quickly. That prompted me to write the same characters in another story, shortly after, and that was published quickly too. So then I was hooked on these two characters and began to write one flash a day. There are 48 in total. So counting a little lag time with the first two stories being published, it took me about 2 months to write this book.

TSR: Did you have a collection in mind when you were writing them?

ST: Honestly, no. Not until the first two were published and then the characters seemed to be calling to me. I kind of fell in love with them.  With their dilemma, and their passion for each other, and what matters most to them in life. It is a love story (albeit a very quirky one).

TSR: How did you choose which stories to include and in what order?

ST: In this book they are all based around the same two characters, M and Kitty Kat. I used the order in which I wrote the stories, day by day. I've been told that I'm an intuitive writer, so I let my intuition take over, and the sequence flowed in the correct order. I'm happy with the sequence which tells their complete story.

TSR: What does the word "story" mean to you?

ST:  Story to me is always a mystical and mysterious form that comes together in order to convey something to both the writer and hopefully the reader. To open a door that was previously closed, to send in some light to the dark corners, to illuminate a world that particular writer sees -- that writer's world view.

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

ST:  Never the reader. In fact, I don't have much of "anything" in mind when I write. I let it flow out of my unconscious and onto the page. My best writing teacher was the writer Jamie Cat Callan who taught us how to write from "the right side of the brain."  Jamie really cracked me open as a writer and a poet. A lot of what I am able to do came out of what I gained from her workshops.

TSR: Is there anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?

ST: Did you empathize with the characters?

TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?

ST: It feels heavenly.

TSR: What are you working on now?

ST: Right now I'm working on another collection of linked-flash-fiction, but this one is set in the South of France during one week in August. It's also about a relationship, but quite different in tone and sensibility than this current book.

TSR: What are the three most recent short story collections you've read?

ST: God Bless America by Steve Almond, Domestic Apparition by Meg Tuite and Wild Life by Kathy Fish.




Interview with Susan Tepper (2010)

The Short Review: How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?

Susan Tepper: The stories in Deer were written over a span of about fifteen years. In another interview I claimed a decade to write them, but then I did some research into the stories and saw I had one that was written in 1994 (Blue Skies) though it didn't get published until Green Mountains Review picked it up for their Summer 2000 issue. And that was after they had held it a couple of years, sent it back rejected, only to phone me about two years after that to say they wanted it to publish! It was a cold, early winter evening during solstice, around dinner time. I was basically stunned. Just stood there holding the phone and quivering in the dim light of my kitchen, hardly could believe what I was hearing. That is the history of my first published story.

TSR: Did you have a collection in mind when you were writing them?

ST: I never have a sense of a "future" on any of the work I do, be it stories, poems or novels. I just sit down at my computer and work cold. No preconceived idea of whether it will be fiction or poetry that will come out during a particular writing time. What started as a story grew into a novel in two instances, simply because I fell so in love with the characters and plot that I couldn't bear it to end. I find all my longer works (4 novels) have been written in winter when I'm less distracted by the beauty of the warmer months. So, to answer your question, it was never a plan, just a bunch of stories that kept coming out with deer in some form or context.

TSR: How did you choose which stories to include and in what order?

ST: Well these were all stories that were written containing deer: be it real deer, imagined, plastic lawn deer, a wire stage prop, etc. It was only when my publisher decided to do this collection that I realized I had so many deer invading my stories. So we cherry-picked through a lot of my work and used the ones containing deer-- thus the title. As for the story order, I chose Deer as the first piece since it's part of the title. It also got a lot of publicity. It was first published in American Letters & Commentary, then got nominated for National Public Radio Selected Shorts Series, and then was staged as a theatre piece by Inter/ACT Theatre Company in Philadelphia. The rest of the stories I just picked kind of randomly, and my publisher liked the order so we took it from there.

TSR: What does the word "story" mean to you?

ST: Story is another realm to me, a place to go where I've never been or imagined being, where reality is suspended for a time, in place of another reality which is story.

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

ST: God forbid. That's a sure way of killing off inspiration. I don't want anyone to even know what I'm writing, and I never have anyone read the work before it's published. I trust my own instincts and revise continually until I get it to a place where there is nothing left to do with it. Then I send it around. If it gets rejected a lot, then I will go back into it and take a look. Sometimes I will tweak it, or add or subtract parts, but I never pay any attention to what the rejection slip says. As an editor, myself, I wouldn't dream of imposing my views on another writer's story. Writers have to trust only themselves. I've heard of agents and editors at some publishing houses who have been known to ruin good work with bad input. It's a tricky tightrope the writer must walk.

TSR: Is there anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?

ST: Did it move you in some way?

TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?

ST: It feels interesting. And nice. I hope they get the same rush reading the stories that I got while writing them.

TSR: What are you working on now?

ST: I have recently completed a novel co-authored with Gary Percesepe. It's being published this summer by Cervena Barva Press. It's sexy. I wrote the male part and Gary wrote the female. It was an intense experience co-writing in this way. You see, Gary and I have never met. We also never spoke on the phone till the book was completed. We "know" each other through the online writing collective FICTIONAUT, and have admired each other's work posted on that site. Somehow, in an email exchange, we got the idea for this novel. We wrote back and forth, every day, until we finished the book. Right now we're keeping the theme kind of secret, but I will say that it's a project that is very close to my heart. Both our hearts. And because of that, the chemistry worked well for this writing.

TSR: What are the three most recent short story collections you've read?

ST:  No one belongs here more than you, by Miranda July, A Bit on the Side by William Trevor, The Last Chicken in America by Ellen Litman


 
                     
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Find out what other authors, from Aimee Bender to Sana Krasikov, said about their collections, what the word "story" means to them, and how it feels to know that people are buying your books! More interviews >>>