Tracy Winn earned her MFA from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers. The receipient of many grants and fellowships, her short stories have appearedin journals such as the Alaska Quarterly Review, The New Orleans Review, and Hayden's Ferry Review. Tracy lives near Boston, Massachusetts, with her husband. She works with Gaining Ground, an organic farm that gives all of its produce away for hunger relief.

Short Story Collections

Mrs Somebody Somebody
(Random House, 2010)

reviewed by Sarah Salway

Interview with Tracy Winn

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

Tracy Winn: From inception to publication, Mrs Somebody Somebody took ten years. That sounds horrible and people make excuses for ages passing in the creation of a collection of short stories, but the work becomes richer and more layered when it goes through many changes and is allowed to molder in a file in between drafts. Writing a story takes me about a year, even when the first draft comes fast.

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

TW: I had a collection in mind, but at first, it wasn’t this one. After I had three of the ten stories written, I began experimenting with what happens when a young character in one story emerges in another story at a different crucial time in his/her life. As I wrote, their lives accrued and connections between characters developed, which tied the stories to each other. The result, I hope, is that the reader gets to know the characters deeply, like friends, over time.

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

TW: Once I started linking the stories, I wrote to fill gaps or expand narrative threads. I didn’t go through the anguish of cutting any out of the collection. Putting them into a logical order was tricky because I had to take a web of interconnections and make something with a sequential logic a reader could follow. Kathryn Lang, my fireball editor at SMU Press, helped me push those stories into line.

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

TW: That is just about my favorite word. "Story" means reading and being transported, or writing and being transported, or on the rare occasion being read to and transported. I love entering an imagined world to have my curiosity piqued, make discoveries, and to see and understand in a way not usually available outside the narrative realm.

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

TW:  Since short stories are generally such a hard sell in the publishing world and I didn’t think anyone but maybe my friends would be reading this collection, I took the liberty of writing a book that I would like to read. To make it the way I wanted it to be, I read it back to myself out loud as I wrote. I reworked the rhythms until they satisfied my ear. I had a lot of fun weaving the stories together in ways that would surprise and entertain me had I been someone who just happened to stumble across them.

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

TW: Would it be okay if I ask two questions? 1) Did you see the humor as well as the sadness and the moments of beauty in this book? 2) Did you wonder about Franklin’s paternity?

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

TW: I was shocked to realize that other people had access to the private world I created in the solitude of my study. I am happy to have adjusted to the fact that more people than I will ever know have come to know and love my characters.

TSR: What are you working on now?

TW:  That’s a secret. To tell anyone this early in the process might jinx it.

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

TW: Cold Snap by Cynthia Morrison Phoel, If I Loved You I Would Tell You This by Robin Black, and Go Down, Moses by William Faulkner. And I am about to read Lori Ostlund’s The Bigness Of the World.
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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 >>>