Midge Raymond's collection, Forgetting English, received the
Spokane Prize for Short Fiction. Her work has appeared in American
Literary Review, Ontario Review, Indiana Review, North American Review,
Bellevue Literary Review, Passages North, the Los Angeles Times,
and other publications. She is on the editorial board of the literary
journal Green Hills Literary Lantern.
Midge taught communication writing at Boston University for six years,
as well as creative writing at Boston's Grub Street Writers. While
living in Southern California, she held writing workshops and seminars
at San Diego Writers, Ink, where she also served as vice president of
the board of directors. Midge now lives and writes in Seattle, where
she teaches at Richard Hugo House. Her current projects are supported
by an Artist Trust/Washington State Arts Commission Fellowship.
with Midge Raymond
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Midge Raymond: The stories in Forgetting English were written over a period of about five years.
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
at first, but when I began to notice a theme emerging — that of
Americans traveling abroad, discovering themselves in ways not possible
while on their home turf — I began to gather the stories together until
I felt had enough for a collection.
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
stories I chose to include all had a travel element to them, as well as
an element of discovery, or rediscovery, on the part of the narrators.
Having a common theme made it pretty easy to decide what to include.
And actually, I don’t remember how I chose the original order of the
stories — while I tend to focus on each story as an individual work,
there’s an art to creating a collection, and I worked with the editors
at Eastern Washington University Press to re-order the stories in a way
that helped the collection flow as a whole. For example, we put a
little distance between the stories that have foreign languages in
them, and we made sure we didn’t have two stories in a row about
couples or about single career women. One of the comments I often get
is that despite the common theme, the stories are all feel very
different, which I think is due in part to getting the order just
does the word "story"
mean to you?
As both a writer and a reader, what I love about stories is the way
they plunge you into fictional lives and situations with an intensity
that you don’t necessarily get with a novel. With a short piece, a
writer doesn’t have the luxury of creating a lot of backstory, and the
result is a sense of immediacy that I really enjoy. For me, a good
story offers both a sense of the temporary and the permanent — you’re
with these characters for such a short time, but if a story is told
well, you remember them long after you’ve turned the page.
Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?
I usually don’t have a reader in mind when I begin a story — I think
that first and foremost the author has to be intrigued — and so I’ll
run with it awhile before asking myself whether it’ll interest anyone
else. Then, of course, I’ll have to consider its appeal to readers, but
usually by then I’ll have a strong sense of whether the story is going
to work or not, and I think it’s important to find that place in the
process before worrying too much about what anyone else might think.
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection,
anything at all?
MR: I’m always curious as to which stories are favorites — I’m fascinated by how this differs so much from reader to reader.
TSR: How does
it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
It feels wonderful. I’m always especially glad to hear from readers who
are discovering or rediscovering the short story genre.
What are you working on now?
MR: I’m working on a novel, and in the meantime, of course, I’m working on new stories.
the three most recent short story collections you've read?