August saw the publication by LSU Press of Visitations by Lee Upton, as the Yellow Shoe Fiction series title of 2017--one of the more dependable short fiction series. She was kind enough to answer some questions for us.
EWN: Your short story collection, VISITATIONS, was published in 2017. What story within the collection had the earliest publication history outside of being in the collection, and what was that history?
Lee: “Escape from the Dark Forest” was the earliest story to be published in the collection. It appeared in Fairy Tale Review in 2012. Originally I was going to include it in my first short story collection, The Tao of Humiliation, but the story didn’t seem to fit comfortably in that collection—not that the story would be entirely comfortable anywhere. It’s a story that’s meant to be unsettling.
EWN: How did the publication of this particular collection come about? Were you solicited by the publisher, win a contest, agent submission, etc.?
Lee: A friend, the marvelous writer Alix Ohlin, suggested that LSU Press, through the Yellow Shoe Fiction Series, might be a good fit for my work. I submitted the manuscript and was happy to hear back with an acceptance from Michael Griffith, an astonishingly gifted fiction writer and a meticulous editor.
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 …?
Lee: The form feels natural to me, and I find myself gravitating toward it as a reader and a writer. I write short stories frequently. I also write poetry, creative nonfiction, literary criticism, and long fiction. Some of my short stories originally were very long before, by necessity, I cut them back. Over time I’ve found that I like stretching out the form.
EWN: Where do short stories fit within your life as a reader?
Lee: I’m an obsessive reader of short stories. Whenever I can, I pick up collections of short stories. I read short stories on-line often, but there’s something wonderful about holding a short story collection in hand and seeing the shape of a story on a page—that visual and tactile experience. Some collections I’ve read recently that I admire: The Price of the Haircut, by Brock Clarke, The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, by Denis Johnson, Aetherial Worlds, by Tatyana Tolstaya, The Dark Dark, by Samantha Hunt, and Wait Till You See Me Dance, by Deb Olin Unferth.
EWN: How will you be celebrating National Short Story Month this May?
Lee: I’ll be continuing to read short stories with gratitude.
EWN: Thank you very much for your time! Thank you!
Lee Upton, the Francis A. March Professor of English and Writer-in-Residence at Lafayette College, is the author of many books of poetry, fiction, and literary criticism. Kirkus Reviews named her previous collection of short stories, The Tao of Humiliation, one of the Best Books of 2014.