Steve Weddle’s novel-in-stories, Country Hardball (Tyrus, 2013), was called “downright dazzling” by the New York Times. The French translation, Le Bon Fils, will be published in 2016 by Gallmeister. Weddle holds an MFA in creative writing from Louisiana State University, where he also taught.
He is guest-editing SmokeLong Quarterly February 9th – February 15th. Below is a brief interview with Steve.
What do you think makes a story excellent?
Anything from compelling characters to a consequential conflict can make a story good. To make it excellent, a story needs to work on multiple layers and dislodge the reader from certainty. The best stories, whether 1,000 words or 10,000 words, are the stories that don’t simply tell you what happened – the stories themselves happen. There is a resonant vibrancy humming just outside your reach that you strive for, a glimmering presence that connects the reader and the writer. If the reader finishes the story by nodding a pleasant acceptance, then you’ve written a good story. You’ve written an excellent story when the reader isn’t nodding, but shaking.
Can you tell us about the most recent story you’ve written and about your process for writing it?
My most recent story, “South of Bradley,” picks up shortly after the ending of my debut, Country Hardball. This new story is pulled from what I had intended to be a sequel to that book. Instead, I found myself doing something else with that book, which left me a number of fragments lying around unused. I was asked to submit a story and began working on this loose piece of narrative to create a new story. “South of Bradley” is scheduled to appear this summer in Playboy Magazine. http://www.playboy.com
In one paragraph, can you tell us about a favorite piece of flash written by someone who’s not you and why you like it so much?
“Hills Like White Elephants,” which clocks in a little over 1,000 words, is a story I keep coming back to, drawn by its overflowing emptiness into a kind of emotional huddle, a sad appreciation of the misaligned levels of human contact.
A mysterious, literary loving billionaire invests in SmokeLong and tells us to arrange a writing residency for you with three authors (living or dead) for a week. Who do you pick? Why?
Haruki Murakami, Kelly Link, and Rebecca Lee. I’d want to work towards an understand of the “strangeness” of contemporary fiction that seems to be interesting so many people these days. Each of these authors seems to be working at a different level, and I suspect chatting together would yield some fascinating results. Of course, I’m also tempted to ask that Norman Mailer be resurrected so that I could punch him in the nose. He’s always seemed like a bit of jerk.