Heather Fowler  received her MA in English and Creative Writing from Hollins University. Her fabulist fiction has been published online and in print in the U.S, England, Australia and India, as well as recently nominated for both the storySouth Million writers Award and Sundress Publications Best of the Net. She was guest editor for Zoetrope All-Story extra in 2000. Her story Slut won third prize at the 2000 California Writer’s Conference. Her second collection, People With Holes, will be published in 2012, and her third, This Time We're Awake, in 2013

Short Story Collections

Suspended Heart
(Aqueous Books, 2010)

reviewed by Angela Readman

This Time We're Awake (Forthcoming - Aqueous Books, 2013)

People With Holes
(Forthcoming - Pink Narcissus Press, 2012)

Interview with Heather Fowler

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

Heather Fowler: I wrote these stories at different times in my life, so it's quite lovely how they have come together. One existed in early draft in 1997 and several were written a few years later. The majority of the collection, however, was written and came together when I realized I had a theme going of magical realism connected with love; then I wrote toward that agenda.

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

HF: I did, in the later stages. I’ve been a writer who writes all different genres of stories and has periodic amazed epiphanies, like: Oh, I should put this group of stories together! This should be my dystopia collection, for example. Or, say, I have a lot of stories about love and sorrow and men. These would go nicely in a book.
   That said, the stories in Suspended Heart are rather the jewels of my heart, work that is very important to me. So it’s a pleasure to have published this book as my debut collection.

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

HF: I have to give Aqueous Books publisher Cynthia Reeser credit for selecting the Table of Contents and the ordering of the stories. The manuscript has as many pieces as it did when I first submitted it, but she was open to looking at other work and ultimately chose the stories she thought worked best together, in some cases not selecting work that had been noted with honors when first published due to her desire to keep a certain tone to the manuscript. I’m very glad for that help and advice.
   A lot of my more recent work has a little more edge, which you will see when the next magical realism collection People with Holes is released. I feel Suspended Heart is a gentler book, perfect for a debut collection. It’s nice to have a book out that shows readers you are a writer with heart and depth.

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

HF: I like this question. I could answer it differently depending upon which words you put before it. If you mean in terms of a literary effort, a "story" to me is a telling of a tale that includes the exploration of human motivations. But poems can be stories, often constrained to minimalism, with lyrical flare. A voicemail can be a story, albeit lacking exposition. Someone’s self summary of their situation is a story too, like a man who mutters: Baby need shoes.

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

HF: I’d like to think I do, but really I relinquish all control when it comes to that. I usually have a reader in mind who I think may be offended by my work. That said, perhaps that sort of reader just spurs me on to do more of what I think they might not like. I’m rather perverse that way—and, at the same time, frequently surprised by the wide array of people who seem to enjoy what I release.
   It’s possible that I think I am writing for women, about women, much of the time, but so many men have written to say they enjoyed the work, I now feel I simply write for readers who might enjoy my sense of duende or humor.

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

HF: I like to know which story is which reader’s favorite piece from the book. I am excited to say that the answers I get vary so widely that this makes me feel like this whole book cuts a wide swath.

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

HF: It feels wonderful, of course! I am donating all author’s proceeds from the first year of book sales to my chosen charity in San Diego where I live, which is a battered women and children’s shelter, so even if what I give is relatively small, it’s wonderful that I can use my art to help a cause—like I’m giving something back to my community.

TSR: What are you working on now?

HF: Oh, this and that, along with the usual closet elephant. I have a novel called Beautiful Ape Girl Baby I’m working on. The new magical realism collection is also in process. Additionally, there are several other short fiction manuscripts I wish to finalize, literary, dystopic, etc., not to mention organizing the poetry. I think that grows in piles while I sleep, like there’s a poem elf. There are hundreds of poems I must put into books or get out there.

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

HF: Corey Mesler’s Notes Toward the Story & Other Stories, Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery and Other Stories & The Nimrod Flipout by Etgar Keret.
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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 >>>