does the word "story"
mean to you?
become more of a classicist about this over time. I like stories to
narrative arc and leave the reader with some sense of how the
going to continue living after the author has ended the tale and left
them to their
own devices. The microfiction movement—in which writers explore a
moment or image or impression as a thing in itself, detached from that
immensely valuable and a great frontier in fiction. I love working in
myself, but I also think itʼs important to keep a sense of the
classical short story
as we engage in that exploration.
TSR: Do you
have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?
Someone like the young man I was from sixteen to twenty, when I first
literature—although that reader could be any age now (and either
years were incredibly crucial to me, because I discovered that books
me understand what it meant to be human and give me an emotional
of people who also sought that understanding. My ideal reader is hungry
TSR: Is there
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection,
anything at all?
SW: I actually get
to ask this question a lot at readings: “Which couple in the book do
you think has the best chance or making it and why?” I get a variety of
which I find encouraging. It makes me think that Iʼve managed to create
at least a
few characters who have hope, which is important to me. I may put my
characters through the wringer, but I want them to emerge feeling like
a shot at being happy. Otherwise they would be too bleak to write.
TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
SW: Good, though it
feels better to know that people are reading it. I get emails from
strangers who have read it, and Iʼve struck up a few friendships that
way, but Iʼm
still waiting to catch somebody reading it in public. On a bus, in a
truly feel like an author. Itʼs also wonderful for my daily writing
practice to have
the “first book monkey” off my back. I take chances now that I wouldnʼt
dreamed of a year ago.
TSR: What are
you working on now?
SW: A novel about
love, grief, and prescription pharmaceuticals. It takes off from
in that the protagonists—a thirty-ish couple—have moved beyond
the point where they feel that a relationship is somehow going to
and have realized that the “problem of the self” will still be there
long after they
find their life partner. So itʼs new thematic territory and a new
fictional form, which
keeps me in a constant state of creative surprise that I enjoy