is the author of the novels, Signed,
Mata Hari, Here they Come and The Sea of Trees.
Her first short story collection,Stories
in Another Language, was published in 1987. Her children's
books include AHWOOOOOOOO!
and Baby Polar
(which is forthcoming in 2008/2009). She is the recipient of various
awards including a Whiting Writer's Award, a National Endowment for the
Arts award, a Chesterfield Screenwriting award and her story In a Bear's Eye was
recently published in the 2007
O'Henry Prize Stories.
In A Bear's Eye (Dzanc Books, Feb
Stories in Another Language (Knopf,
with Yannick Murphy
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Yannick Murphy: Half
the stories were written years ago, half are recent.
TSR: Did you
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
YM: No. I never see my
stories as connected.
TSR: How did
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
YM: I once heard
that your best story should be your third story in the collection and
that all collections should start with a short piece, so that's what I
did. The rest of the stories were just shuffled around a bit until they
found a good fit.
TSR: What does the word "story"
mean to you?
that are pointed at, but never answered, and by the end of it you feel
as if you understand the questions better and that the answers didn't
TSR: Do you
have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?
I don't. The workings of the story, the cadence of the words, and the
weaving of the images take up my attention so that I don't have
anything else in mind when writing except the story and keeping alert
for every opportunity to refer back to something that already took
place in the story so that it can stay alive in the story and lift the
TSR: Is there
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your
anything at all?
YM: No. But I hope
they liked it.
TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
YM: A lot better
than knowing people aren't buying them.
TSR: What are
you working on now?
YM: Trying to write
a better sentence than the last one and also re-writing a scene in a
novel so that it doesn't sound like just news, but gives the reader an
image that is more powerful than the facts.
TSR: What are
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
YM: Hmm, I recently read some oldies over again: At The Bottom of the River by Jamaica Kincaid, The Stories of Breece D'J Pancake, and then a more recent one, Jim Shepard's Like You'd Understand, Anyway