ALIX OHLIN ON “LET’S DECONSTRUCT A STORY”

Vancouver author Alix Ohlin among five finalists for 2021 Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize | Georgia Straight Vancouver's News & Entertainment Weekly

 

Hi Everyone,

Welcome!

“Let’s Deconstruct a Story” is a podcast for the story nerds–those who know that examining the components of a good story is the key to writing one. In each episode, I interview a writer about one of their own stories, delving deeply into their choice of POV, plot, setting, and tone. The stories are available for listeners to read (below) before they listen to our discussion.

This week, I’m talking to Alix Ohlin about her story “Quarantine” which was first published in The New Yorker, in 2017, and then later in her 2021 short story collection, We Want What We Want.

First please read the story “Quarantine” in The New Yorker here.

This story should be free and accessible (you may have to enter your email address) but if you have any issues, please click here.

If you would like a transcript of our discussion, please feel free to contact me as well.

Here’s the podcast on Spotify and Anchor.

Anchor:

Spotify:

Extras:

A link to Alix Ohlin’s essay in Lithub on How to Map the Shape of your Short Story, which we mention in our discussion.

A link to a portion of the Charles Baxter essay about the request moment.

Ohlin also mentioned this book by Joan Silber, The Art of Time.

Bio: Alix Ohlin is the author of six books, including the novel, Dual Citizens, which was short-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Best American Short Stories, and many other places. Her 2021 short story collection, We Want What We Want, was shortlisted for the 2021 Atwood Gibson Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. She lives in Vancouver, where she is the director of the UBC School of Creative Writing.

Alix Ohlin’s books are available on Bookshop here or on Amazon here.

***

Thanks also to Andrew Mason at Upwork for some help with editing this episode.

***

News:

I’m pausing “Let’s Deconstruct a Story until January 15th to have time to download and edit some previously recorded videos. Next season look forward to an outstanding line-up including Toni Ann Johnson and Caitlin Horrocks among others.

I’ll send more information sometime in December!

I’m including a donation button on my website these days because I am saving up for podcast equipment. If you’ve enjoyed the podcast but have noticed the audio quality is not always top-notch, it’s because I am dealing with old headphones and a free editing program. I am flying by the seat of my pants!

At the same time, as fellow writers, I’m sure you know how little we make in this business, so it will take me a while to save up for the equipment.

If you feel like donating, I would greatly appreciate it. Every little bit helps! Thanks!



NATALIE SERBER ON “LET’S DECONSTRUCT A STORY”

Natalie Serber

 

Hi Everyone,

Welcome!

“Let’s Deconstruct a Story” is a podcast for the story nerds!

This is a podcast for aspiring writers who know that examining the components of a good story is the key to writing one. In each episode here, I interview a writer about one of their own stories, delving deeply into their choice of POV, plot, setting, and tone. The stories are available for listeners to read (below) before they listen to our discussion.

Today’s guest is Natalie Serber. We are discussing her story “Children are Magic” which was originally published in One Story Magazine and is a part of her upcoming short story collection.

You can read the story Children are Magic here.

Enjoy! Kelly

And our discussion available on Anchor here:

Note use of strong language and adult content.

or on Spotify here:

Transcripts of our discussion are available upon request.

If you have any additional questions for Natalie, or suggestions for future shows, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

Natalie Serber is the author of a memoir about her experience with breast cancer entitled, Community Chest, and a story collection, Shout Her Lovely Name, New York Times Notable Book, and an O, the Oprah Magazine Summer Read. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, her fiction has appeared in One Story, Zyzzyva Magazine, Hunger Mountain, The Bellingham Review, Gulf Coast, and othersEssays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, O, the Oprah Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Rumpus, and others. Currently at work on a novel with the working title, Must Be Nice, and a memoir entitled, Go Back to Sleep, you can visit her online at natalieserber.com and subscribe to her popular newsletter, read.write.eat.

News:

I’m including a donation button on my website these days because I am saving up for podcast equipment. If you’ve enjoyed the podcast but have noticed the audio quality is not always top-notch, it’s because I am dealing with old headphones and a free editing program. I am flying by the seat of my pants!

At the same time, as fellow writers, I’m sure you know how little we make in this business, so it will take me a while to save up for the equipment.

If you feel like donating, I would greatly appreciate it. Every little bit helps! Thanks!



SEJAL SHAH ON “LET’S DECONSTRUCT A STORY”

Sejal Shah

 

Hi Everyone,

Welcome!

“Let’s Deconstruct a Story” is a podcast for the story nerds!

This is a podcast for aspiring writers who know that examining the components of a good story is the key to writing one. In each episode here, I interview a writer about one of their own stories, delving deeply into their choice of POV, plot, setting, and tone. The stories are available for listeners to read (below) before they listen to our discussion.

Today’s guest is Sejal Shah. Her story “The Half King” is a part of her upcoming short story collection.

You can read the story online below.

Enjoy! Kelly

Story available here:

The Half King by Sejal Shah in The Literary Review

Discussion available here:

or on Spotify here:

Bio: Sejal Shah is a poet who works in prose, writing across genres and disciplines. She is the author of the award-winning debut essay collection, This Is One Way to Dance (University of Georgia Press, 2020). Her stories and essays have appeared in The Guardian, Brevity, Conjunctions, Guernica, the Kenyon Review, Literary Hub, Longreads, and The Rumpus. The recipient of a 2018 New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in fiction, Sejal recently completed a story collection with images; her newer writing is about friendship, school, and mental health. She lives in Rochester, New York.

Sejal’s book is available here on Bookshop and here on Amazon.

News:

I’m including a donation button on my website these days because I am saving up for podcast equipment. If you’ve enjoyed the podcast but have noticed the audio quality is not always top-notch, it’s because I am dealing with old headphones and a free editing program. I am flying by the seat of my pants!

At the same time, as fellow writers, I’m sure you know how little we make in this business, so it will take me a while to save up for the equipment.

If you feel like donating, I would greatly appreciate it. Every little bit helps! Thanks!



CLIFFORD GARSTANG ON “LET’S DECONSTRUCT A STORY”


Cliff Garstang

 

Hi Everyone,

Welcome!

“Let’s Deconstruct a Story” is a podcast for the story nerds!

This is a podcast for aspiring writers who know that examining the components of a good story is the key to writing one. In each episode here, I interview a writer about one of their own stories, delving deeply into their choice of POV, plot, setting, and tone. The stories are available for listeners to read (below) before they listen to our discussion.

You can read the story online or you can download the PDF below.

Enjoy! Kelly

Stories available here:

Lost in Translation Online Here

Lost in Translation by Clifford Garstang

Listen to our discussion below. Please contact me if you need it transcribed.

 

Or on Spotify here:

Bio:

Clifford Garstang is the author of the novels Oliver’s Travels and The Shaman of Turtle Valley, a novel in stories, What the Zhang Boys Know, winner of the Library of Virginia Literary Award for Fiction, and two short story collections, In an Uncharted Country and House of the Ancients. He is also the co-founder and former editor of Prime Number Magazine and the editor of the anthology series Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet. A former international lawyer, he now lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

In other news:

Natalie Serber and I are collaborating on a workshop based on her story “Children are Magic,” which was published in One Story. The first part of the workshop will be a roundtable discussion with participants about the story (in the vein of “Let’s Deconstruct a Story”). The second hour will include a writing prompt based on the story and time to share our work. Hope you will consider joining us for this fun event. Here’s the link to register.

Also, I’m including a donation button on my website these days because I am saving up for podcast equipment. If you’ve enjoyed the podcast but have noticed the audio quality is not always top-notch, it’s because I am dealing with old headphones and a free editing program. I am flying by the seat of my pants!

At the same time, as fellow writers, I’m sure you know how little we make in this business, so it will take me a while to save up for the equipment.

If you feel like donating, I would greatly appreciate it. Any little bit helps! Thanks!



 

NOLEY REID ON “LET’S DECONSTRUCT A STORY”

Noley Reid

photo credit: Jason Wheat.

Hi Everyone,

“Let’s Deconstruct a Story” is a podcast for the story nerds!

This is a podcast for aspiring writers who know that examining the components of a good story is the key to writing one. In each episode here, I interview a writer about one of their own stories, delving deeply into their choice of POV, plot, setting, and tone. The stories are available for listeners to read (below) before they listen to our discussion.

If you enjoy the podcast, please let me know, and if you have any writers/stories you’d like to recommend, I’d be happy to hear about them.

Also, be sure to scroll down to the bottom where I am announcing the first “Let’s Deconstruct a Story” workshop with Natalie Serber!

Thanks,

Kelly

**Warning: This story includes a discussion of suicide.**

First, please read Noley Reid’s excellent story, “Coming Back,” which is available in Split Lip Magazine here.

Or you may download a PDF of the story here: “Coming Back” by Noley Reid

or on Spotify here.

A transcript of our conversation is available upon request.

Bio:

Noley Reid’s third book is the novel Pretend We Are Lovely from Tin House Books. Her fourth book, a collection of stories called Origami Dogs, is forthcoming from Autumn House Press. Her stories and essays have appeared in The Southern Review, The Rumpus, Arts & Letters, Meridian, Pithead Chapel, The Lily, Bustle, Confrontation, and Los Angeles Review of Books. Follow her on Twitter @NoleyReid and find out more about her writing and upcoming events at http://www.NoleyReid.com.

A novel by Noley Reid

“Pretend We are Lovely” is available at Bookshop here and on Audible here.

“So There!” is on Bookshop.org as well: https://bookshop.org/books/so-there/9781936205455.

“In the Breeze of Passing Things” is out of print but Noley has copies. If you are interested, feel free to contact me, and I will put you in touch with her.

In other news:

I’m happy to announce the first “Let’s Deconstruct a Story” workshop with Natalie Serber on October 13th at 6pm EST. We will be talking about her story, “Children are Magic” which was first published in “One Story” in 2019. More information is available here.

JEFF VANDE ZANDE ON “LET’S DECONSTRUCT A STORY”

 

Hi Everyone,

Hope you are enjoying the last days of summer! I’m happy to have Jeff Vande Zande, a fiction writer from Michigan, on the blog today!

How this work:

“Let’s Deconstruct a Story” is a podcast for the story nerds!

This is a podcast for aspiring writers who know that examining the components of a good story is the key to writing one. In each episode here, I interview a writer about one of their own stories, delving deeply into their choice of POV, plot, setting, and tone. The stories are available for listeners to read (below) before they listen to our discussion.

***

Please read Jeff Vande Zande’s story, “Load” or listen to the MP3 recording here.

***

And then enjoy our discussion here:

or on Spotify here:

BIO:
Jeff Vande Zande teaches fiction writing, screenwriting, and film production at Delta College in Michigan. His award-winning short films have been accepted over 200 times in national and international film festivals. His books of fiction include the story collections Emergency Stopping (Bottom Dog Press) and Threatened Species (Whistling Shade Press). His novels include Into the Desperate Country (March Street Press), Landscape with Fragmented Figures (Bottom Dog Press), American Poet (Bottom Dog Press) and Detroit Muscle (Whistling Shade Press). In 2012, American Poet won a Michigan Notable Book Award from the Library of Michigan. In 2020, Whistling Shade Press released his new collection, The Neighborhood Division: Stories, and in 2022, Montag Press will release his new dystopian novel, Falling Sky. He maintains a blog at http://www.authorjeffvandezande.blogspot.com

WENDY RAWLINGS ON “LET’S DECONSTRUCT A STORY”

 

Short Story Collection by Wendy Rawlings

Hi Everyone,

I’m thrilled to have Wendy Rawlings on “Let’s Deconstruct a Story,” the blog where we read a story and then discuss it with the author.

As Susan Perabo said, “This is a blog for the story nerds!”

Please either read the PDF of the story below or listen to the audio recording below before tuning in to our discussion.

 

All best,

Kelly

 

Coffins for Kids on Sound Cloud

Coffins for Kids PDF

 

Our discussion of “Coffins for Kids” is available on Anchor here:

 

 

Or on Spotify here.

 

 

Bio: Wendy Rawlings is the author of a novel, The Agnostics, and two collections of stories, Time for Bed and Come Back Irish. Her work has most recently appeared or is forthcoming in AGNI, Creative Nonfiction, Kenyon Review, and The Pushcart Prize anthology. She’s a professor in and director of the MFA Program in creative writing program at the University of Alabama.

Wendy Rawlings

SUSAN PERABO ON “LET’S DECONSTRUCT A STORY”

Hi Everyone,

I’m thrilled to host the acclaimed short story writer, Susan Perabo, on the blog today. “Why They Run the Way They Do” is one of my all-time favorite short story collections!

As usual, please read the story posted below before listening to our discussion.

Also please send me reading recommendations! I’m always looking for good short stories.

All the best,

Kelly

Susan’s story available here:

This Is Not That Story in The Sun

This Is Not That Story PDF

 

Our discussion of “This Is Not That Story”:

On Anchor:

Or on Spotify here!

And here is a rough transcript of our discussion brought to you by the dictation service at Microsoft Word:

Susan Perabo and Kelly Fordon transcript

 

 

 

 

Susan Perabo

 

Bio: Susan Perabo’s most recent books are The Fall of Lisa Bellow (2017) and Why They Run the Way They Do (2016), both from Simon & SchusterHer fiction has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories, Pushcart Prize Stories, andNew Stories from the South, and her fiction and non-fiction have appeared in numerous publications, including One Story, Glimmer TrainStory, The New York TimesThe Sun, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Her work has been featured on the podcasts Modern Love and Selected Shorts. She is a professor creative writing at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA.

Why They Run the Way They Do: Stories and The Fall of Lisa Bellow are available at Bookshop and Amazon.

In Other News:

I am hoping some readers will help support this worthy cause! I love Inside Out Literary Arts in Detroit 🙂 I’m writing in support of them, and I will send anyone who donates $100 an original poem 🙂 You can even send me three words you’d like included in the poem!

WANDEKA GAYLE ON “LET’S DECONSTRUCT A STORY”

Motherland 1.jpg

 

Hi Everyone,

Happy summer!

Welcome to “Let’s Deconstruct a Story!” This week I’m talking to Wandeka Gayle about a story called “Prodigal” from her new collection, “Motherland and other Stories.”

First, please read “Prodigal” by Wandeka Gayle

And then enjoy our discussion below!

Kelly

PS: I’m always interested in learning about great stories I might have missed, so if you have any ideas, feel free to contact me any time.

 

You can listen to this episode on Spotify:

 

Anchor:

 

Or:

Google Podcasts

Radio Public

Pocket Casts

Breaker

Wandeka Gayle

 

Bio: Wandeka Gayle is a Jamaican writer, visual artist, Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Spelman College and the author of Motherland and Other Stories (Peepal Tree Press, 2020). She has received writing fellowships from Kimbilio Fiction, Callaloo, the Hurston/Wright Foundation, and the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. She has a Ph.D. in English/Creative Writing from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.  Other writing has appeared in Prairie Schooner, The RumpusTransition, Interviewing the Caribbean and other journals and magazines. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. 

Motherland and Other Stories is available at Peepal Tree Press, Amazon, and Bookshop.

DONNA BAIER STEIN ON “LET’S DECONSTRUCT A STORY”

Donna Baier Stein

 

Welcome to #letsdeconstructastory!
Today I’m happy to talk to Donna about her story “A Landing called Compromise” from her prize-winning collection Scenes from the Heartland.

The way the blog works:

  1. Please read the story, “A Landing called Compromise” here at The Saturday Evening Post.
  2. Listen as we “deconstruct” the story below.
  3. Afterward, please purchase the book at the link provided below.

Enjoy!

 

Also, please check out our other episodes on Spotify here.

 

 

Bio:

Donna is the author of The Silver Baron’s Wife (PEN/New England Discovery Award, Bronze winner in Foreword reviews 2017 Book of the Year Award, Will Rogers Medallion Award and Paterson Prize for Fiction, more), Sympathetic People (Iowa Fiction Award Finalist and 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist), Sometimes You Sense the Difference (chapbook), and Letting Rain Have Its Say (poetry book). She was a Founding Editor of Bellevue Literary Review and founded and publishes Tiferet Journal. She has received a Bread Loaf Scholarship, Johns Hopkins University MFA Fellowship, grants from the New Jersey Council on the Arts and Poetry Society of Virginia, a Scholarship from the Summer Literary Seminars, and more.

Donna’s writing has appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review, Saturday Evening Post, Writer’s Digest, Confrontation, Prairie Schooner, New York Quarterly, Washingtonian, New Ohio Review, and many other journals as well as in the anthologies I’ve Always Meant to Tell You (Pocket Books) and To Fathers: What I’ve Never Said (featured in O Magazine).

Donna was also an award-winning copywriter for Smithsonian, Time, World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, and many other clients in the direct marketing industry. www.donnabaierstein.com

Purchase Donna’s book at Bookshop here or Amazon here.

JOHN MCNALLY ON “LET’S DECONSTRUCT A STORY”

ON “LET’S DECONSTRUCT A STORY”
John McNally
Hi Everyone,
I know it’s been a while since my last post but you know how life goes by…especially during the pandemic.
It feels like one day has passed but it’s been three months.
Or is it that three months have passed in the space of a day?
Or is that a different way of saying the same thing?
If you, like me, are having trouble grasping paradoxes that would not have troubled your pre-Covid-era brain, then I’m sorry, but I am sending one more your way, and I hope it doesn’t cause your brain to implode.
“The Phone Call” by John McNally, is a story that will deposit you deep in a closed timeline curve and though it is quite a trip, I have faith that you will make it back to reality in one piece.
In fact, I think you will find it quite enjoyable.
As a bonus, after you’ve read John’s story and watched our video, please loopback (!) and check out this video on time travel/time loops that I happened on by Vi Hart, which completely blew my already addled mind.
Here’s a refresher on #letsdeconstructastory because I have not posted anything new since December 1st:
#letsdeconstructastory is all about unpacking short stories to see how they work on a cellular level. It’s a place for writers to geek out about the work of other writers and hopefully add some new tools to their own toolbox.
Here’s how it works:
1.  Please read the story here first.
2. Listen to our discussion
CHECK OUT OUR OTHER EPISODES ON SPOTIFY here.

Biography:

John McNally is the author or editor of eighteen books, including The Fear of Everything: Stories, The Book of Ralph: A Novel, and The Boy Who Really, Really Wanted to Have Sex: The Memoir of a Fat Kid. His craft book Vivid and Continuous has been adopted in many college creative writing courses. He has also had screenplays optioned and in-development and his work for a Norwegian film company in 2019 took him to Norway’s Arctic Circle for research. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, John is Writer-in-Residence and the Dr. Doris Meriwether/BORSF Professor in English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He is presently writing a thriller set in Thailand, where he plans to retire.
Buy the book:
John’s book is available for purchase: On Bookshop here or The University of Louisiana Press here or Amazon here.
Also! George Saunders has a new book out about deconstructing stories called “A Swim in a Pond in the Rain“:

“One of the ideas in the book is that, when we read a story, we read with the same mind we use to read the world. So, concentrating on a story and the way we’re responding to it can tell us a lot about ourselves. I’ve found it so pleasurable and clarifying to tune out everything but that one story, those specific lines. Reading a story is, really, an exercise in believing that other people exist and are valid—the writer of the story, but also those fictive people. We get to practice caring about some people we don’t know—good practice for real life.”

—George Saunders