Back when Gary Fincke had only published somewhere between 15 and 20 books, I had caught up and could say I'd read everything. No longer, especially after seeing two collections published in 2017--The Killer's Dog (Elixir Press, March) and The Out-of-Sorts: New and Selected Stories (West Virginia University's Vandalia Press, November). I cannot no longer make that claim. I was however able to convince Gary to do a couple of these mini-interviews which I've merged into one.
EWN: Your short story collections, The Killer’s Dog, and The Out-of-Sorts: New and Selected Stories, were published in 2017. What stories within the collections had the earliest publication history outside of being in the collection, and what was that history?
GARY: From The Out-of-Sorts…this one is surprising, because it didn’t appear until my second collection Emergency Calls—Darwin in the City, published in 1989 by Cimarron Review—it wasn’t included in my first collection because the publisher wanted only stories that were coming-of-age in Western Pennsylvania/Eastern Ohio in order to help market the book. From The Killer’s Dog it would be Sight Unseen, published in Shenadoah in 2005. I wrote it during the high I was experiencing right after I won the Flannery O’Connor Prize, but I kept pulling it from subsequent collections until it finally resurfaced here where it felt like it belonged.
EWN: How did the publication of these particular collections come about? Were you solicited by the publisher, win a contest, agent submission, etc.?
GARY: The Killer’s Dog won the 2015 Elixir Press Fiction prize, but didn’t appear until March of 2017.
West Virginia University had published two collections of my stories, and when I began to think about doing a “selected,” I thought it would be a good fit (and so did they). We decided to make it a “new and selected,” a bonus, but it was hard because by then I had seven collections to choose from and could only use 18 old ones and 5 new ones—Frankly, I’d like to revisit another “selected” after I find a home for the eighth collection. I think I’d try to choose a wider variety of voices and points of view next time around, and the page limits meant I chose not to use the longer stories, which might have been a mistake.
EWN: Where do short stories fit within your life as an author? Primary form to work with, or something you write when an idea hits, or …?
GARY: I write in three genres—fiction, poetry, and nonfiction—mostly about equally, though I came to nonfiction late (nearly fifty at the time) and didn’t begin writing short stories until I was about thirty-five.
I write stories regularly.
EWN: Where do short stories fit within your life as a reader?
GARY: I read more nonfiction than anything else these days, but have likely read more short stories than any other form of writing during my life—I don’t understand why this form draws so little attention. Almost everyone who writes stories relies on journals and mid-list presses.
EWN: How will you be celebrating National Short Story Month this May?
GARY: I have a few readings, but my idea of a celebration will be when I begin to circulate a new collection of stories, which may well occur during May—I think it’s finished right now, but I try to wait a few weeks in order to be more objective. I finally wrote a brand new story that I think was the one I needed to lead the collection off. Time will tell about my enthusiasm.
EWN: Thank you very much for your time!
Gary Fincke has published thirty books of poetry, short fiction, and nonfiction, most recently The Killer's Dog, Bringing Back the Bones: New and Selected Poems and A Room of Rain: Stories. His stories have appeared in the Missouri Review, Newsday, the Kenyon Review, Black Warrior Review, and Crazyhorse among other periodicals. Twice awarded the Pushcart Prize, Fincke's work has been recognized by Best American Stories, O. Henry Prize series, and Best American Essays.