I became a writer through drawing first and then a comic book obsession - Marvel Comics, in particular. I invented a world of superheroes starting in third grade with my classmate, Wai-Kwan Wong. In a classroom of forty kids, let's just say there was a lot of undirected time. But this was good because I was a dreamy boy.
I'm interested in the limits of personality, in the possibility of change, and the saving power of art. Do powerful works of art raise our consciousness to such a degree that we refrain from sliding into moral hazard? Do we take note? Or are we doomed to repetition?
Simply put, you can read a story in a single sitting and hold it all in your mind. You can experience all of its rhythms, beginning to end, during that span. Consequently it has, I think, greater emotional power than a novel because of this real-time effect. Stories can stun you.
I studied Hitchcock and Josef von Sternberg under Richard Dillard at Hollins, and that year under his tutelage just completely rewired my brain. Both directors combine moral seriousness with great artistry and, certainly in Hitchcock's case, an enormous respect for plot, for its power to enthrall and delight.
By examining characters lighting the way to hell, as it were, are readers spared iniquity? Are stories a heeded warning, or merely an entertainment? Each story in the collection tries to wrestle with these questions.
There was a long stint during my childhood after I gave up on being a pro football player - were talking sixth grade here - that I strongly considered a future writing and drawing comic books. I have been making stuff up ever since.
I'll never forget reading Chekhov's "A Doctor's Visit" on a train to Hawthorne, New York, and I got to the end - the scene where the patient says goodbye to the doctor and she puts a flower in her hair as a kind of thank you to him - and I felt like a cowboy shot from a canyon's top. This is a different experience from reading a novel, I think. The emotional effect is cumulative. Let's just hope market forces don't send short fiction the way of the dinosaur, because their sales are paltry compared to the novel and... Read more »