Joseph Young lives in Baltimore, where he co-runs the art blog Baltimore Interview and keeps the microfiction blog very small dogs. His work has been featured in SmokeLong Quarterly, Mississippi Review, Hobart, Exquisite Corpse, Pindeldyboz, Word Riot, Lit Pot, Blue Moon Review, Haypenny, Rock Heals, Eleven Bulls, JMWW, elimae, Frigg and others. He is fond of collaboration and has created art exhibitions with visual artists such as Christine Sajecki and Magnolia Laurie

Short Story Collections

Easter Rabbit
(Publishing Genius Press, 2009)

reviewed by David Woodruff

Interview with Joseph Young

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

Joseph Young: The oldest story in the collection is probably about 3 to 3.5 years old, and the newest ones I wrote just before we put it together. There are 86 stories in the collection. So, if they each took between 5 minutes and 24 complete hours (1440 minutes) to write, it took 61,705 minutes (1028.5 hours) to finish the collection. This certainly is nowhere near accurate.

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

JY: No, I had no idea of a collection when I wrote them. I'd put together various manuscripts for collections (which were never sent anywhere), but I didn't write with that in mind. The closest I got to this was when writing the "Deep Falls" section of the book, which was done for an art project/show with Easter Rabbit's cover artist, Christine Sajecki. Deep Falls the art show featured Christine's paintings and animations and those 20 stories.

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

JY: I went through my Finished Stories folder on my computer and started selecting out those I liked the most. Originally, Adam (Robinson, the man behind Publishing Genius) conceived of the book as a shorter chap, with about 50 stories. Later, we decided to expand it and I added in Deep Falls and some other pieces. Once we'd decided on all 86, Adam and I cut them into thin strips of paper and laid them out on his living room floor. We went story by story, putting them in order, sometimes by what the story was about, sometimes by imagery, sometimes by length, and mostly by feel.

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

JY: Something happening through time. Something with a character or characters and some sort of situation, tension. Something that may be compressed and use metaphoric language but that still has narrative as its goal, if only for a second of time.

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

JY:  This is a hard question to answer. I'm not sure I consciously have a reader in mind, but I think I've internalized the idea of a reader and that helps me to shape what I say. In other words, I'm writing up to some ideal reader's expectations, attempting to communicate something to some other person, but it's become so a much a part of the process I don't actually have to imagine the reader as existing.

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

JY: Hmm, maybe, what was the shape of your reading experience, when were you excited, when were you bored, when did you think, this guy's got something here, when, this guy's a hack? I would wonder because it's interesting to watch my own progress through that cycle when reading a book.

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

JY: It blows my mind. I remember thinking, I hope a few people are interested, that 6 people buy the book. That people are not only buying it but are also saying these deeply interesting things about it in reviews and such scares me a little. I mean, I love it, thank you, thank you, but I had no idea people would be so supportive, and it makes me wonder, how did I get so lucky? This is a thought I often have, looking around at my friends, for instance, these absurdly talented and generous people, and wondering, what miraculous force brought me these wonderful people, these folks who are so goddamn good to me?

TSR: What are you working on now?

JY: Well, as of writing this, I am preparing for my book release party, which will include art, performance, and music. This is partly what I had in mind in answering the question above: painters and installation artists and musicians and actors all so generously devoting their talent and time to the Easter Rabbit release. Other than that, writing, making collages, making short videos, doing a sort of installation of text/image on my wall.

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

JY: Oh, I'm going to cheat a little. Amelia Gray's brilliant, touching, and scary AM/PM; Heather Christle's wildly entertaining poetry collection The Difficult Farm; and rereading Mary Miller's Big World, a book that deserved all the attention it got and more.
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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 >>>

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