Q&A with Michelle Richmond discussion

Short Stories

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Chicklit (new)

Chicklit (chicklit1028) | 1 comments Hi Michelle!

"Down the Shore Everything's All Right" made me a lifetime fan and is still one of my favorite short stories. First, do you still write short fiction and, if so, will you release another collection? Second, can you talk about making the transition from short fiction to novels? How is the writing process different for each?


message 2: by Michelle (last edited Jan 14, 2009 11:00AM) (new)

Michelle (michellerichmond) | 29 comments Mod
Hi Shellie. What an absolute delight it is for me to hear you reference that story! As you know, "Down the Shore" was part of my very first book, and my only story collection, THE GIRL IN THE FALL-AWAY DRESS (2001). Only about 2,000 copies were printed, and the only place to find it is online or through a very few libraries, so it's always a joy when someone tells me they've read it. I hope very much that the book will one day be published in paperback so that it can reach a wider audience. Even though the book has many flaws, I am probably prouder of that book that anything else I've written. It came together over a period of eight years, and represents some of my earliest finished work, not to mention a writing voice I had at that time that, I fear, may have been somewhat lost over the years. I was pretty young then--all of the stories were written in my twenties--and I think that, despite all the glitches that come from my having really been just trying to figure out how to write stories, there's an energy to that book, a freshness, a rawness, that's difficult for me to emulate now that I'm older and more experienced. So thank you for reading it and bringing it up!

I do still write short fiction, although not nearly as much as I'd like to. For the past few years I've been continually on contract for novels, so almost all of my writing time has been spent in that effort. Now, I write short stories as a way to take a breather. I absolutely love the process, the fact that I can complete a story in a few weeks as opposed to a few years. I want very much to release another collection. I have two novels forthcoming with Bantam in the next few years, but during that time I'll continue to write stories here and there. I also have a number of stories that have appeared in literary magazines over the years, some of which might fit together nicely in a collection, so it's something that's always in the back of my mind.

Writing short stories, for me, is a more loose-limbed process, wherein a feel free to just see where the language takes me. I never have any sort of path mapped out when I'm writing a story, no idea of where it might go. With a novel, I never know when I begin exactly what's going to happen, but I do have a time frame, a strong sense of the characters and thematic elements.

A story takes so much less time to write, and I don't have an editor or a deadline, so I can write it without pressure, with absolute joy and a sense of fun. Although I really enjoy writing novels, I am always aware, as I'm writing a novel, that this is work, it's my job, it's how I earn my living and therefore, I must be serious about it, I must keep the end goal--a finished novel--in mind. With a story, I can start it and not finish it, or start it and finish it two years later, or throw it away, or send it out to a couple of literary magazines. When I take time out from working on a novel to write a story, I really feel like I'm playing hooky, giving myself a big gift--it's like eating bonbons in the middle of the day, I love it!

message 3: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (michellerichmond) | 29 comments Mod
Hi Suzanne. Thanks for your questions. Pieces that I contribute to anthologies are almost always solicited; the editor writes to me and invites a submission, and if I have time and feel that I have something to say on the subject, I'll write something. Occasionally this can lead to bigger publications. For example, Ellen Sussman invited me to submit an essay to her anthology BAD GIRLS. The editor of the anthology then sent it to Playboy Magazine, which printed my essay. I should mention, though, that I already had a relationship with Playboy at that point, having had a short story published there (which my agent had sent in).

On the other hand, my stories and essays that have appeared in literary magazines have almost all been "slush pile" submissions. I write the story or essay, then send it in to the magazine.

back to top