We are still determined that we'll finish up May's short story month in April! First up today, a mini-interview with Ben Loory.
EWN: Your short story collection, TALES OF FALLING AND FLYING, 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?
Ben: TALES OF FALLING AND FLYING contains my first published story, "Toward the Earth," which first appeared in Knock Magazine back in 2008. I'd been submitting stories on and off for a few years at that point, and always being rejected, when a friend of mine, the novelist Jonathan Evison, announced that he'd be guest editing an issue of Knock, and asked if I had anything to send him. "Why yes I do!" I said. I still remember how amazing it all was. I flew up to Seattle to read at the release party for the issue. It was the first time I'd ever done a public reading, and my hands shook so wildly, Jonathan had to come up and hold the paper for me. Not that that did any good, as I was still hyperventilating so badly I could hardly read. But hey, somehow I got through it. Later on that night, I won a sweatshirt in some kind of literary trivia contest. The answer was Virginia Woolf.
EWN: How did the publication of this particular collection come about? Were you solicited by the publisher, win a contest, agent submission, etc.?
BEN: I had a first look deal with Penguin following my previous collection, STORIES FOR NIGHTTIME AND SOME FOR THE DAY, which they'd published in 2011.
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 …?
BEN: Short stories are what I write. I try to write one every day. My brain is happier that way.
EWN: Where do short stories fit within your life as a reader?
BEN: I read probably about 50% novels and 50% short story collections and anthologies. I find all three unsatisfactory, to be honest. Novels are too long and I am invariably bored after about 50 pages, whereas with story collections I tend to get tired of the style. Anthologies theoretically are my best bet, but I find editors tend to stick to similar stylistic ruts. So mostly now I just read a ton of books all at once and just skip around constantly back and forth in an attempt to stay interested.
EWN: How will you be celebrating National Short Story Month this May?
BEN: I'll probably write some short stories. I'll also be traveling to Indonesia (and maybe Iran?!) so I'll probably be lying in a hotel room somewhere with the flu.
EWN: Thank you very much for your time!
BEN: My pleasure!