Shellie Zacharia lives in Gainesviile, Florida. Her stories have appeared in Hobart, Opium, Keyhole, The Pinch, Washington Square, Canteen, SmokeLong Quarterly, Juked, and elsewhere.

Short Story Collections

Now Playing
(Keyhole Press, 2009)

reviewed by Michelle Reale

Interview with Shellie Zacharia

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

Shellie Zacharia: Well, I was going to say the stories were written between 2003 and 2008, but then I realized two stories included in Now Playing are very old. First drafts of Vibe and Petals were written in 1996. They’re very different stories now, but those early drafts are still in a folder in my file cabinet. Scarlet and Cardboard Ben are the newest pieces in the collection.

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

SZ: For a long time I was just writing stories and trying to publish them and writing more stories. After a while, I started to think, hey, cool, sooner or later I’ll have enough for a collection.

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

SZ: Ultimately, I wanted variety so the book would have an eclectic feel to it. For order, I decided to start and end with flash fiction, and I wanted those pieces to be lively. Then I tried to mix stories up, looking at theme, length, style, structure, voice, etc. It took awhile. At one point I thought about tossing all the titles in a hat and pulling out one at a time . . .

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

SZ: Hmmm. Story is one way to let yourself fall into another world for a brief time.

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

SZ:  When I’m writing an early draft, I’m my reader. If it makes me smile or laugh or just feel good and do a little dance while I’m writing, then the story is working for me.

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

SZ: I’d first want to say, Thanks for reading! Then I’d want to ask: Did you like it? (Oh, please say yes) . . . Which stories did you like the best? Which characters?

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

SZ: It’s crazy wonderful. Really. I mean, having a book published has been one of my dreams since I was a kid. It’s also scary because it’s a very public thing – here’s my mind, hope you enjoy.

TSR: What are you working on now?

SZ: I’m writing new stories and flash fiction. I’m also putting together a chapbook of flashes.

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

SZ: Anthony Doerr’s The Shell Collector; Margaret Luongo’s If the Heart is Lean; Kevin Wilson’s Tunneling to the Center of the Earth. All great collections.
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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 >>>

Other Interviews With Shellie Zacharia:

Read: Smokelong Quarterly