February 2017 saw the publication by Moon City Press of Michelle Ross's story collection, There's So Much They Haven't Told You, as it had won their short fiction contest the previous year. Michelle was kind enough to take some time and answer questions for us.
EWN: Your short story collection, There’s So Much They Haven’t Told You, 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?
Michelle: “If My Mother Was the Final Girl” was the first story in the book to be published, as well as the first story I ever published. I wrote it around the time that I was finishing up my MFA at Indiana University in Bloomington. It won the Gulf Coast Fiction Contest. I think this was in 2002. The prize was publication and $1000, which is still the most I’ve ever been paid for a single short story.
EWN: How did the publication of this particular collection come about? Were you solicited by the publisher, win a contest, agent submission, etc.?
Michelle: Contest—the book was published as a result of winning the 2016 Moon City Press Short Fiction Award.
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 …?
Michelle: Short stories are practically all I write. I love them and will happily sing their praises, but writing (and reading) short is also partly a practical choice. I work full-time out of the house as a science writer Monday through Friday, and I have an eight-year-old son. Thus, writing time is limited to a couple of hours or so most days. Certainly other writers have written longer works of fiction in snatches of time, but for now at least, I’m not that kind of writer. I find orienting myself back into a 15-page story at eight o’clock at night after my son goes to bed challenging enough already. Not to mention, I’m not monogamous when it comes to writing. I often flirt with many, many stories at once—to the point that I can drive myself a little crazy sometimes opening and closing files, looking for the story that I have the best chemistry with at that moment. Also, I have more ideas than one writer could possibly need, and I want to write them all!
Currently, I’m working on several new short story collections, two on my own, as well as a joint project with my friend Kim Magowan, whom I’ve been collaborating with on a series of short stories for almost a year now.
EWN: Where do short stories fit within your life as a reader?
Michelle: Short stories are mostly what I read too. As fiction editor of Atticus Review, sometimes I read dozens of stories in a day. But even outside of editing, rarely does a day go by that I don’t read at least a few stories.
Again, this is partly a practical choice. Novels are harder. As is the case with writing, I feel I need large chunks of time to read novels. If I read just 20 or 30 pages a day, the novel loses momentum for me. I lose interest. I quit. But also because when I read fiction, I always read with an eye on craft, so I feel I gain more in this regard from reading short fiction. Or novellas and very short novels. I’ve been reading more of those lately.
Outside of short fiction, I mostly read nonfiction. I enjoy listening to nonfiction when I run or go on walks. Because I read nonfiction audio books less for craft and more for fodder for fiction and life, I don’t feel I need to be so wholly focused on every word. It’s fine if I miss some things. The ideas that stick are the ones that matter anyhow.
EWN: How will you be celebrating National Short Story Month this May?
Michelle: Mostly how I celebrate short stories every day, by reading them and writing them.
I also plan to catch up on reviewing, or at the very least rating, a bunch of short story collections on goodreads and/or Amazon. It’s easy to get lazy about that sort of thing, but rating (assuming it’s a good rating) and reviewing books on these sites is really a relatively easy thing to do, and it’s a great way to support fellow writers.
EWN: Thank you very much for your time!
Michelle: Thank you so much, Dan!
Michelle Ross is the author of There’s So Much They Haven’t Told You (Moon City Press 2017), winner of the 2016 Moon City Press Short Fiction Award and Finalist for the 2017 Foreward INDIES Book of the Year Award for Short Stories. The collection was also runner-up for the Juniper Prize in Short Fiction and a finalist for the New American Press Fiction Prize and the Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest.
Her fiction has won prizes from Gulf Coast, Main Street Rag Publishing, and Sixfold. Her fiction has also appeared in The Common, Hobart, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, TriQuarterly, and other venues.
She is fiction editor of Atticus Review and a consulting editor for the 2018 Best Small Fictions anthology.