Aimee Bender is the author of three books:
The Girl in the Flammable Skirt (1998) which was a NY Times Notable
Book, An Invisible Sign of My Own (2000) which was an L.A. Times pick
of the year, and Willful Creatures, which was nominated by The Believer
as one of the best books of the year. Her short fiction has been
published in Granta, GQ, Harper's, Tin House, McSweeney's, The Paris
Review, and many more, as well as heard on PRI's This American Life and
Selected Shorts. She's received two Pushcart prizes, and was nominated
for the TipTree award in 2005. She lives in Los Angeles, and teaches
creative writing at USC.
with Aimee Bender
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
About six years.
TSR: Did you
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
AB: Yes, though in a
vague way-- I liked the idea of having the stories mix and mingle.
TSR: How did
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
AB: Mainly I chose
the ones I thought were working best, though my editor chimed in too,
and suggested a few cuts. There were also stories he suggested cutting
that I insisted on keeping because they felt crucial to me for the book
as a whole. Order-- for this book, I put the harsher ones first, and
then moved towards hope.
TSR: What does the word "story"
mean to you?
tough question! The feeling of holding onto a sparkling handrail into
TSR: Do you
have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?
AB: Both no and yes.
There is always a reader, someone I'm telling the story to. It has to
be an act of communication. But who that person is, I don't often know.
I think each story may have a different particular reader.
TSR: Is there
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection,
anything at all?
AB: Lots of things,
so it's hard to pinpoint one. How'd that go? comes to mind.
TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
AB: Feels great--
very good to feel that part of the duet happening.
TSR: What are
you working on now?
TSR: What are
the three most recent short story collections you've read?