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Gary Schanbacher

Gary Schanbacher was raised amidst the rich storytelling tradition of southeastern Virginia. Educated at Randolph-Macon College and Old Dominion University, Schanbacher moved to Colorado to continue his graduate studies at the University of Colorado where he earned a PhD in economics and nurtured an emerging love of fly-fishing. During his career in industry and academics, Gary continued to pursue his literary interests. His stories have appeared in numerous journals, such as Colorado Review, South Dakota Review, and The William and Mary Review. He and his wife live in Littleton, Colorado. Migration Patterns is his first collection of short fiction.

Short story collections

Migration Patterns (Fulcrum Publishing, 2008) 

Reviewed by Avis Hickman-Gibb

Interview with Gary Schanbacher

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

Gary Schanbacher: The stories were written over a period of six or seven years. I work slowly and revise endlessly. Plus, like most writers, I had a “real” job to occupy 40-50 hours a week.

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

GS: No. I submitted to the literary magazines, trying to establish credentials, and, to be honest, to convince myself that I was a writer

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

GS: During a literary festival sponsored by Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, I met a publisher who asked to read a collection of my stories. About the same time, I was work-shopping a novella. An exercise in the workshop involved the participants coming up with alternative titles to the story, and one suggestion was “Migration Patterns.” Thinking about it later, it occurred to me that several of my stories were thematically linked around the idea of migration—geographical, emotional, and spiritual. I submitted those stories to Fulcrum Publishing, and we worked together during the editing process to determine order.

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

GS:  A story to me is a distillation, a paring down to the essentials, where a question is raised and the possibility of an answer suggested.

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

GS: No. I write for myself, to kick around issues or themes or events that capture my curiosity. If I do my job well, I assume that what intrigues me might also interest others with similar tastes. In that sense, I do have a general idea of the “type” of reader who might be receptive to my stories.

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

GS: Does anything ring false? In fact, I often do ask that question of reading groups and book clubs.

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

GS: I’m not sure too many people are buying it. But seriously, I remember walking into a bookstore, seeing it on the shelf, and suddenly realizing that someone other than my family and critique circle might actually read it. The thought panicked me beyond reason.

TSR: What are you working on now?

GS: A novel, as well as a few stories.

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

GS: The Pale of Settlement by Margot Singer; The Lives of Rocks by Rick Bass; and, Our Former Lives in Art by Jennifer S. Davis