Interview on Cold Waters Press

Stevan Allred signs copies of A Simplified Map of the Real World at Powell's.

Stevan Allred signs copies of A Simplified Map of the Real World at Powell’s.

Noah Dundas of Cold Waters Press is featuring an interview with Stevan Allred.

Stevan talks about short stories, the linked form in particular, as well as naming some mentors, why he chose Forest Avenue Press, point of view, and his co-teacher Joanna Rose’s wise statement about revising.

Here’s Stevan on point of view:

“When I’m drafting a story and I get stuck, one of my tricks is to change the POV, to rewrite from first to third, or third to first, or to change who the POV is running through.  I can go omniscient, or introduce an additional POV, or try it in the more exotic second person.  Often this shift will resolve problems that seemed intransigent before.”

Noah has conducted fabulous interviews with other Portland writers, including Liz Prato, the editor of our upcoming anthology The Night, and the Rain and the River, and Scott Sparling, author of Wire to Wire, who was interviewed for Brave on the Page.

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  1. Very interesting on the relationship between short stories and novels (which are, of course, totally artificial categories). It always surprises me that more people aren’t working in the area in between, but I guess it looks like there isn’t a market.

    However, I think the “People don’t like short stories” idea comes from a narrow view, where people just look at prose fiction to determine what kinds of stories people like. On television, for example, the trend these days seems to be toward hour-long dramas with a lot of larger “arcs,” spanning part or all of a season. What is that but interconnected short stories?

    If the equivalent idea isn’t selling in prose fiction, I think it’s because the big publishers haven’t figured out how to make it happen, or (more likely) they haven’t even figured out that this is a potentially marketable form. But I think there’s some fertile ground there.

  2. Very astute, Anthony. Yes, those are artificial categories, but they are categories that have been marketed to readers for a very long time, and most of us believe them to be real without really questioning them. Is The Lord of the Rings a novel? Yes, but not in the same way the The Great Gatsby is a novel. Is the real difference between short stories and novels merely length? Yes, that’s one way to look at it, and it cuts through some of the more intellectual distinctions people draw. I like to think that a story needs its author to find the natural shape for that story. In the best of worlds, that shape’s dimensions would have nothing to do with how it was marketed. We would all understand that a story, done well, is exactly as long as it needs to be, and no longer, nor any shorter.

    The work that is being done on television these days–series like Deadwood, Madmen, The Sopranos, The Wire–is very much like interwoven short stories. We watch several story lines running side by side, bumping into each other, illuminating one another, making the fictional world richer, broader, deeper than most novels do. I’d like to think that A Simplified Map of the Real World works in a similar way.

  3. Lord of the Rings is a good example, since it was written as a novel, as you say, but had to be sold as a trilogy (thereby starting the tradition that fantasy epics should be trilogies).

    I’m glad you backed me up on the TV thing, since I almost never watch TV these days (too addictive — one big factor in finishing my two novels was losing my TV in a flood and deciding not to replace it). So, I was going by what I’ve read about TV, and I was a little afraid that somebody would say I had it wrong. 🙂

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