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Q and A

May 19, 2007; Sylvia Sterne Asks:

Hi Stacy, remember me? I am Susan Sterne's mother. We live in Seattle now and would love to have you visit. Congratulations on the new book, I hope to get it soon. Maybe you can come here to promote it. I will take you to bookstores.

Stacey answers:

Hello Sylvia, of course I remember you! I'd love to come see you the next time I'm in Seattle. Thanks for dropping me a note.

May 17, 2007; Nancy Pantsy Asks:

What do you think of publishing under more than one name? Are there any stories out there that were written by you but attributed to Francesa Markelpump?

Stacey answers:

I always use my own name. I don't know anyone who doesn't, or even know of anyone who doesn't, except for Lemony Snicket. I can see the appeal of using a pseudonym if someone writes for both children or adults, or writes in two wildly different genres, like murder mysteries and language poetry. It could avoid confusion at the library catalog, not to mention shock and disappointment. Otherwise, I'm not sure I see the point, though it may be that I'm just bitter. If I could escape the name Stacey, I would escape the name Stacey. But I'm a Stacey.

May 16, 2007; # Asks:

Kafka's "The Burrow," about an OCD rodent would be an excellent addition.

Stacey answers:

Good choice.

May 15, 2007; Pretty Ballerina Asks:

You have written two wonderful stories (that i know of) about dogs. Do you plan to write more of those? Do you have favorite stories by other writers that have animals as protagonists, and if so, will you edit an anthology of stories about animals? I will buy it.

Stacey answers:

Hi Pretty. I love writing about dogs, and the animal-story anthology is in fact a fantasy project of mine. I haven't found enough stories for a book, but here's my mental list: "The Cat's Meow," by Wright Morris (a mid-century macho era writer often overlooked these days), excerpts from The Thin Place, by Kathryn Davis, which has some amazing chapters told from the point of view of a dog, and "Hawk," the heartbreaking essay by Joy Williams about the time her dog bit her, which I always thought was a short story. If anyone has other suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

May 15, 2007; Rabbi Shvitz Asks:

I read in one of your interviews that you recently surveyed the great mid-century American Jewish big shot macho guy writers (e.g. Bellow, Roth). What did you think?

Stacey answers:

Shvitzy, thanks for asking, and I wish I had more to report. I got distracted by Scandinavian writers and haven't finished my Mid-century Macho project yet. I just read some Bellow, a little Roth, and one Updike Rabbit book. All I can say so far is that I think those guys wrote about characters who are their alter-egos, and I'm amazed, awed, and a little sickened by that. There are even several passages in Herzog where Bellow slips from the third person to the first. So weird.

I'll try to revisit this answer later when I've read some more books.

May 15, 2007; MaGillacuddy Asks:

Hi Stacey, I just finished reading your story Duet -- I liked it a lot, you dealt with some themes there (talent and jealousy and art) that don't get treated in a ton of literature. I was also curious about this one: It seems to have a fairly different tone than a lot of the Stacey stories I'm used to reading. Were you aiming for something different here, or did you just sit down in a slightly different mood or do some things just pop out different than others? It seems like a variation somehow and I'm curious to hear if the writing it down part felt different.

Stacey answers:

I think the main difference you're responding to, MaGillacuddy, is that the story is written in the third person while almost everything else I publish is in the first. Yes, I was aiming to do something different; I wanted to write in a more standard, novelistic, third-person voice because I can now, after practicing for years, since I naturally suck at it.

I also decided that a story about Julliard-trained string players would work better in the third person, since that kind of narrative seems more conservative to me. I don't think I could have pulled it off in the first person anyway, since I have no idea what goes on in the heads of people with boundless self-discipline.

May 14, 2007; Not Andrew but following up Asks:

But shouldn't your publisher or someone foot at least some of the bill? I don't know much about these things Stacey, but you should try to do some little book tour type thing. At least go to the cities where you have friends and a guest bedroom to crash in. Please consider. I think self promotion can be a healthy pursuit.

Stacey answers:

My publisher didn't offer to send me on a tour. They're a small press and I'm sure they don't have the budget for that. Anyway, I hate reading, I hate going to readings, and I rarely travel because I have a really, really insanely bad back, so crashing in a guest bedroom is about the worst thing I can do. And, furthermore, readings don't sell very many books, trust me. They're more for the author (and lots of authors love touring). I, too, believe self-promotion can be a healthy pursuit. That's what this whole website is about. Buy more books please! They make great gifts! Also, though I hate readings, I love Q and A's (doing them and listening to them), which is why I wanted to have one on the site.

May 14, 2007; Andrew Asks:

How come no book tour?

Stacey answers:

Expense.

May 13, 2007; minny Asks:

Dear Wise-Stacey-One- i find i like to read q and a,(but maybe because i'll LEARN something) and reading interviews and biographys and memoirs...and even my own gmail threads over and over! tell me, is there already a genre of publishing that i don't know about or should i start my own, and publish EMAIL? Just the kind of tawdry, personal, tearjerker stuff that seems interesting or sensitive. not business mail or conversations about the weather. wouldn't that kind of non-fiction interest someone? the way love stories do or diaries do for some? of course being a non celebrity or politician, is this just narcissism to think other people would get off reading other peoples private letters? I guess it would take an editor to see if it has any entertainable merits or would appeal to anyone. & even though i called it non-fiction, really it is of course sometimes unguarded truth that later could be construed as lies.

Stacey answers:

Gee Minny, if you like to read interviews, maybe you would like to read the new one with me from the Portland Review that I just posted in the "Interviews" section? People definitely publish their letters, and I love Found Magazine, which publishes notes and letters that people have found lying around on the ground. I like the idea of an informal way to publish emails, since they're so informal, like a website--especially if you had a juicy subject matter, like maj jong or drunken roommates.

May 11, 2007; Luke G. Asks:

I keep checking this everyday and no one's asking any Qs anymore, so I figured I'd ask another one myself: How do you know when to end a story? How do you know how to end a story? How do you know if the ending you've written is any good? What if you can think of two (or more) endings that seem equally effective--should you then write a Choose Your Own Adventure story? I guess that's actually a bunch of questions about the same thing. Hope you don't mind.

Stacey answers:

Ask me as many as you want, Luke. End when something central in your story has changed irrevocably (often a character). Once the thing has changed, you can either stop right there or milk the aftermath in various ways (a popular one is when one of the characters realizes that something has changed; another is for a character to deny that something has changed, the fool).

Exactly how you end is up to you, but you may want to look at some of your favorite stories to see how they end--with description? A line of dialog? A shocking action? Snow falling faintly, faintly falling? If you're unsure about your ending or have two to choose from, then go back to the first paragraph and see which ending has the most to do with the beginning; the idea is to create a unified whole. I don't especially like the Choose Your Own Adventure option since the whole project of writing is to choose your own adventure--make up your mind, Luke!

Finally, you may go to your grave without knowing if your ending is any good; it may help to know what you believe in, since most stories, finally, communicate a kind of belief system. I'm not sure exactly what I mean by that...

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