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.

AfterEllen.com: 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?
AB:
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.

 

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