Anne Leigh Parrish is a native of upstate New York but has made Seattle, Washington home for almost thirty years. Her short stories have won numerous honors and awards, and have appeared or are forthcoming in The Virginia Quarterly Review, Clackamas Literary Review, American Short Fiction, The Pinch, Eclectica Magazine, Prime Number, Storyglossia, PANK, Bluestem, r.kv.r.y., and many other publications.

Short Story Collections

All The Roads That Lead From Home
(Press 53, 2011)

reviewed by Carol Reid

Interview with Anne Leigh Parrish

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

Anne Leigh Parrish: Just about three years, from 2007 through the end of 2010.

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

ALP: No, not really. I wrote each story, and then later thought to combine them all into something book-length. The list of stories changed a bit over time, however. As I uncovered common themes or situations in my work, I was able to see a sort of arc or progression that made sense of the final group.

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

ALP: In essence I pulled everything I'd published in that time period with the exception of one story I didn't think was a good fit with the rest. Regarding the order of the stories, I led with what I felt was my strongest piece, which won The Pinch's 2008 Literary Award. After that it was a matter of progressing generally from mother-daughter stories to parent-child pieces, to stories featuring couples, and ending with one that depicts an entire family dealing with a small, quickly resolved crisis.

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

ALP: Story means a brief, intense exposure to someone else's fictional world, where what you come to assume, or believe, is altered by the time you leave that world. A story lifts off from reality and startles you into recognition.

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

ALP:  I do. I'd say my "reader" is an intelligent, sensitive person who loves language in general, and tough, pushy characters in particular. My reader wants to root for my characters, and see them come out on top.

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

ALP: I'd like to know if he got a sense of place, as informed by landscape or someone's mood; if she was immersed in a character's world and the challenges of that world; and this last probably sounds a bit odd, but I'd like to know if my work either restored or enhanced my reader's faith in humankind.

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

ALP: It feels both amazing and strange. We seldom know who our readers are, so the idea of a complete stranger getting to know my work isn't new. What's different for me now is that someone who knows nothing about me, who buys and reads my book, is going to get a much bigger picture of who I am as a writer simply by virtue of reading eleven stories, rather than just one.

TSR: What are you working on now?

ALP:  In terms of marketing, I'm hoping to find an agent to represent my novel, Pen's Road. The novel takes off from one of the stories in my collection, Pinny and The Fat Girl. It, too, is set in my fictional town of Dunston. As to writing itself, I'm completing a collection of linked stories called Our Love Could Light The World. After that I imagine it will be the usual mix of producing individual stories, while chipping away at a new book-length project, most likely another novel.

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

ALP:  Anthony Doerr's fabulous Memory Wall; Gold Boy, Emerald Girl by Yiyun Li, and Too Much Happiness by my absolute favorite, Alice Munro.
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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 >>>