In Their Own Words: Part 1

Amy Bloom: Short Stories

Photo credit: Beth Kelly

Amy Bloom’s first short-story collection, Come to Me was a National Book Award finalist. She followed that with A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You, which was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. The bisexual author is currently working on her third collection of short stories, as well as a novel and the screenplay for a romantic comedy. Name one or more books or authors that inspired you to write short fiction; what made them particularly influential?
Amy Bloom: I was floored, at 20, by James Joyce’s The Dead. It didn’t inspire me but it sure did knock me out. Likewise, Alice Munro, Doris Lessing (a superb short-story writer), Alice Adams, John Cheever, John Updike.

AE: You write in many genres. What does short fiction allow or encourage that other genres do not?
AB: Short stories, like poetry (which I don’t write) require discipline and allow no space for self-indulgent riffs and pointless sentences. Good training and good results.

AE: Do you have any suggestions for those aspiring to write short stories?
Don’t think of writing as an opportunity to show off, to be clever, to win friends or to get laid. Think of it as a chance to serve your characters, whom you have taught yourself to understand from the inside out.

AE: Which authors do you recommend among those currently writing short fiction featuring queer characters?
AB: Not too many people are writing great short stories now, I fear — queer or otherwise, although I always admire David Leavitt and David Sedaris, Rebecca Brown and Sarah Waters, who doesn’t write short anything.

AE: How do you decide if a particular story is worth finishing?
AB: I finish almost everything I begin in fiction — unless it’s so bad that throwing it out is a kindness. I wait until I’m done to decide that it’s not worth keeping.

AE: Name a favorite book outside your genre.
AB: Silence of the Lambs — brilliant at what it does.

AE: Recommend a few collections of short fiction that relate to a single subject of personal interest or expertise.
AB: Doris Lessing: Habit of Loving, A Man and Two Women; Alice Munro’s The Moons of Jupiter (I think that’s the title) — the subject is people.


Next page: Ariel Schrag on graphic novels