Born in China ZoŽ S. Roy was an eyewitness to the red terror under Mao’s regime. Her writing has appeared in Canadian Stories, Thought Magazine and The Northern Light. Her debut short fiction collection, Butterfly Tears, was published by Inanna Publications and Education Inc. in October 2009. Awarded an M.Ed. from the University of New Brunswick and an M.A. from Saint Mary’s University, she lives in Toronto and works in adult education.

Short Story Collections

Butterfly Tears
(Inanna Publications, 2009)

reviewed by Sheila Cornelius

Interview with ZoŽ S. Roy

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

ZoŽ S. Roy: I’ve been conceiving stories most of my life, however, it took me four years to finally write them down. In the midst of writing this collection, I started a novel entitled Long March Home.

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

ZSR: No. I planned to write some as a preparation for writing novels. But after I wrote several, a couple of them ended up on the back burner. As I got more ideas I kept writing more stories.

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

ZSR: I chose the stories that either have a strong character or speak of a peculiar situation. The order was mixed with stories of different topics or characters or settings to spike the interest of the reader with variety. Finally I took the suggestion of my editor, Luciana Ricciutelli, of Inanna Publications.

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

ZSR:  In my opinion, a story describes events and interactions that arecommon to all human beings, but in the story the happening centresaround a particular character with a specific background.

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

ZSR: Yes, I do. I write for readers who are interested in human stories, more especially interested in women’s cross-cultural experiences in certain historical periods.

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

ZSR: I’d like to ask these questions: Do you have any empathy with any of the characters? How would you react if you were in the character’s shoes? Do you prefer an open ending?

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

ZSR: That’s a good feeling, but I also ask myself: Can this book of non-mainstream fiction sell? Can I write better while remaining true to myself?

TSR: What are you working on now?

ZSR: I’m working on my second novel. It’s about a girl who escapes from a military farm during the Cultural Revolution to seek freedom in North America. It’s derived from the story Yearning. One of my readers told me that all the stories of Butterfly Tears were too short; she wanted them to be extended into novels. I think at least this reader would be eager to read my future novel.

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

ZSR: They are The Best American Short Stories 2008 edited by Salman Rushdie, New Orleans Is Sinking by Mark Anthony Jarman and One Day It Happens by Mary Lou Dickinson.
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