I have a few stories in the works at the same time, and as one of characters in my short story ‘Roommates’ says: if I talk about them I can’t write them.”
What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?
I’ll be reading the short story, “Until There’s Not,” from my latest collection, A Woman Walked into the Bar. The story was inspired by a man with a band-aid on his hand who boarded a Metra train I was riding. He carried a cup of coffee and a worn briefcase, and I watched as he tried to maneuver without spilling his drink. His movements were so interesting I started writing them in the notebook I always carry, and before long his story began to emerge from my imagination. The story was first published in Crannog magazine in Ireland.
What are you working on now?
I have a few stories in the works at the same time, and as one of characters in my short story “Roommates” says: if I talk about them I can’t write them. I just finished a piece of flash fiction titled, “Open House,” which I’m sending to magazines now. I’m also revising a stage play.
One of the fun things I’m doing is visiting with book clubs that have chosen my book, answering questions and reading a little from my stories.
What was the last great thing you read by another author?
Most recently Lincoln at the Bardo by George Saunders. I put off reading this because Saunders was one of the few successful writers who considered himself a short story writer and was an inspiration because he didn’t need the “validation” of writing novels. However, I read an interview with Saunders who said he didn’t set out to write a novel, the story just grew beyond its bounds. The novel was fascinating.
You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which writer, dead or alive, do you invite?
Only one? Flannery O’Connor.