Challenge and Celebration: An Interview with Rebecca Fishow

by Connor Harrison

The Trouble With Language, the title of Rebecca Fishow’s debut collection, is both a challenge and a celebration. A challenge because Fishow is immediately naming the problem we are about to watch her approachwhy is language so troubling? Why does it define at the same time as slipping through our fingers? A celebration because the trouble with language is maybe the sole reason anyone begins to write at all; a celebration, because Fishow responds to her premise with such enthusiasm, and skill. The stories here arrive from a diversity of angles, ranging from the half-page tale to the highly specific stream-of-thought narrative. Because Fishow is not one for the singular, nor is she restricted by the limits of the mundane. Magical realism drips through her stories, sometimes comic, other times poetic (usually both), allowing both her characters and stories to metamorphosise. Taught by George Saunders at Syracuse University, her work comes from a similar tradition of American humourbut it would be reductive to insist that Fishow is like Saunders. Her fiction, multi-faceted in form, is deeply idiosyncratic, and The Trouble With Language is an important collection for anyone who wants to better understand the potential of the short story.

Connor Harrison: The first thing I wanted to ask is, I guess, the typical question: Do you recall the first thing you wrote? Or perhaps a better question is, do you remember the first thing you made? I know that you paint as well as write, and you’ve said you used to be a dancer, so it seems like you’ve been making for a long time.

Rebecca Fishow

Rebecca Fishow: I don’t remember the exact first thing I made or wrote. When I was really little, five or six, I was already drawn to writing, visual art, and dance. When adults asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always responded, “an artist.” My elementary school had a little “publishing house,” and we’d write stories and illustrate the pages. Then a PTA mom would bind them into little books. I made a bunch of those. One about a lighthouse and a magical pearl, and another about a trip to Nova Scotia. There were probably a couple about my cats. By the time I was in third grade, I had permission to go to the art room during recess, instead of outside. I was a textbook art nerd all through high school, but I didn’t take writing really seriously until I was an undergrad. I found some phenomenal mentors and teachers at Syracuse. 

CH: That’s good, a school publishing house, I’ve not heard of that before. What were you reading before you paid more attention to writing? Were you raised with books at home?

RF: My parents didn’t necessarily read a lot themselves, but they encouraged me to read. Lots of trips to the library. When I was really young, I loved books with adventurous or mischievous protagonists, like Harriet the Spy or Matilda. Lots of Roald Dahl. I loved The Phantom Tollbooth, and Alice in Wonderland. In high school I was probably reading a mixture of books assigned in school and things my friends passed around. The first book I remember being really wowed by, in terms of feeling like, “I didn’t know writers could do that, or say that,” was The Catcher in the Rye. That book came to me at the right time, my early teens, and I was so drawn into Holden’s voice, the conversation narrative and his odd philosophies as a young person whose childhood trauma colored his ideas of adulthood. At the time, I related to his critiques of “phoniness,” but didn’t understand, so much, the nuances in why his outlook was problematic and self-destructive. That led to books like The Bell Jar, and some modernist writers—Woolf and Joyce. I loved the beats, especially Kerouac, and got into Gibran’s The Prophet, too.  I was the kind of kid who really listened in English classes, read everything, and ate up all the insight English teachers flung at us. I was also reading poetry in high school; I remember solid doses of Cummings, Plath, Ginsberg, Whitman.

CHThe Catcher in the Rye seems to be, from an English perspective, the school-assigned book for Americans (the equivalent here, for me at least, was Of Mice and Men, and An Inspector Calls). So I only read Catcher quite recently. How do you feel about the idea of reading books at the right time? How do you think you’d read Salinger now? 

RF: Catcher was definitely in favor when I was in high school, and I think it might be less popular for high school curriculums now. I’d guess there are a couple positive reasons for that. For one, there’s more focus on teaching diverse text, so I think less of a while-cis-male curriculum. Another is that some elements of the book feel dated and time stamped in potentially problematic ways (or at least ways that make social progress since Catcher was written more glaringly obvious). These aren’t reasons NOT to teach the book, but just, reasons why it may not be as popular these days. 

I teach creative writing at an arts high school, and for a couple years, I actually read Catcher with sophomore-year creative writing students. I taught it because it’s an excellent exploration of voice and unreliability in first-person POV. The book was very polarizing with my students, in terms of students either loving it or really disliking it. I think that, for me, reading it now in my thirties, I still appreciated much of what I loved about it back when I was fourteen, but other elements I found more cloying. I felt that the book drags in places in a way I didn’t as a kid. 

I do believe in reading a book “at the right time.” Time is, of course, not the only thing that matters, but if I’m in a certain mood, or occupied by certain intellectual ideas or social issues, it may affect my connection to a book at that time. In terms of Catcher, specifically, when I was a kid, I related to Holden’s critical nature, his anger, and his rebellious side. But that’s just because I had a little of that in me, too. I think that many writers could totally not relate to that at all (and I’ve seen it with some of my students.).

Now, as I’m older, I think what’s most fascinating to me about Holden is not his rebellious nature, but the ways in which he is stunted and static as a personunable to compromise his values or come to terms with himself as a whole person with conflicting impulses, and therefore unable to find a healthy way to move through the world. I see the psychology differently, and in fact, see Holden as a character exhibiting a lot of PTSD. PTSD wasn’t even a term when I was a teen, at least not one I was aware of. When my students and I discussed the character, we were able to understand Holden through a mental health lens that wasn’t available to me as a teen. 

CH: Yeah, I feel like if I’d read the book when I was fourteen, I would have found this cool, tough American kid. But what I mostly remember from reading it a couple years ago, is the scene where he sneaks into his sister’s bedroom at night, and the conversation they haveI think that’s a really crushing thing, and I think this stunted Holden is what really makes the book what it is, rather than the rebel kid (or at least, it has to be both). It’s interesting what you say about PTSD. Do you often find that teaching these texts to students alters your own reading of them? 

RF: Not necessarily. My students sometimes offer readings or ideas I may not have considered, like anyone reading and thinking closely might. And those can be particularly intriguing, considering they are experiencing the world, in many ways, very differently than I did at their age. Time certainly alters my reading of texts, however, and teaching does require me to come back to texts, after a period of time, quite often.

CH: How has reading been for you over the last year? Have you found it to be a comfort? A lot of people seem to be struggling to concentrate enough to read a novel. 

RF: Many people who I’ve spoken to have been unable to stick with a single book during all this. Others have found themselves reading books they might not ordinarily pick up. Fantasy or sci-fi, texts that feel more escapist, and pull us away from the current shittiness of the world.  I love that books can provide this. Others seem to have switched up their usual genre of choice from nonfiction to fiction during all this. I guess we have too much reality, as it is.

I’ve been lucky. I’ve been able to keep reading, and more or less the same kinds of books I’d be reaching for pre-pandemic. I’m not sure why. It may have to do with my job being so intense and just . . . never ending, right now. I’ve been hyper-aware of my own need to prioritize my mental health and well-being. Reading is part of my mental health regime. I will say that my TV interests have shifted. I’m just soaring through any good comedy series I can find. Schitt’s Creek, Community, New Girl . . . that’s been my escape.

CH: Could I ask what you’re reading at the moment?

RF: Just this morning I finished Blue Flowers by Carola Saavedra, translated by Daniel Hahn. Next, I’ll be digging into Night Rooms, a collection of essays by Gina Nutt, as well as Cris Mazza’s Charlatan: New and Selected Stories. After that it will be George Saunders’ new book on craft through exploration of Russian authors, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain. Also Sleepless Nights, by Elizabeth Hardwick. There’s a lot I’m hoping to get too, soon.

CH: You attended Syracuse University for both your undergraduate and postgraduate degreesdid you live in New York before then? Or did you relocate? 

RF: I received both degrees from Syracuse. I grew up in New Hampshire, and returned there for a year in between undergrad and grad school, to work as a newspaper journalist.

CH: As someone with zero journalistic experience, I feel as if it must be beneficial to the writing of fiction; have you found that to be the case? Do you make personal distinctions between the styles of writing you work in?

RF: I’m sure journalism has been influential to my fiction style. I probably haven’t taken enough time to really think about it, so it’s fun to take some time now. One way being trained in newspaper journalism has been helpful is the idea of the inverted pyramid for hard ledes. A hard lede is an approach to structure where the story begins with the most important facts (the top of the pyramid). This means front-loading the who, what, where, when of a story, and then developing the how, and why later on. The benefits of the structure are that it gets a busy reader all the “essentials” as quickly as possible, and at the same time it builds intrigue. Looking back at some of my writing, I seem to have applied this stricture, to some extent. My story “Jailbreak” begins, “The husband and the wife are in prison. The prison is warm and dark, like the inside of an animal. The prison guard is a little sick girl who will probably die in a number of weeks.” Here, I’m providing a lot of the basic facts to ground the reader (and myself) within the situation quickly. 

One way being trained in newspaper journalism has been helpful is the idea of the inverted pyramid for hard ledes. A hard lede is an approach to structure where the story begins with the most important facts (the top of the pyramid). This means front-loading the who, what, where, when of a story, and then developing the how, and why later on. The benefits of the structure are that it gets a busy reader all the “essentials” as quickly as possible, and at the same time it builds intrigue.

The more unusual the idea I’m exploring, the more helpful this technique seems to be. As a writer, it gives me a framework and focus to deepen from the setup. Hopefully, for the reader it will help them feel stable, despite the odd premise. In this example, too, the language and tone of the story is pretty journalisticblunt, straightforward, distant third-person point of view. So, journalism has probably affected my writing tonally as well. I say this knowing that not all of my stories make use of hard ledes or journalistic tone. Others might rely more heavily on subtext, subtlety, stylized voice, lyricism, which is not super useful to traditional hard news journalism (but can be interesting in long form, literary journalism).

Other ways journalism resonates with creative writing: When reporting, you need to learn how to ask the right questions of a source. Right could mean most relevant, most interesting, most surprising, or the questions no one’s thought to ask yet. You also need to be able to observe your sources and subjects. Not just listen to their words, but get a sense for their mannerisms, the way they speak, the spaces they inhabit, all of that. Engaging journalism can make use of sensory detail, just as creative writing does, so observing is important to both. In this sense, not actually sure if an interest in creative writing helped my journalism, or the other way around.

From a logistical standpoint, journalism forced me to write quickly, develop research skills, and ultimately understand that any subject can be interesting, if you’re invested in it and find a good angle. 

That was such a long response! I could probably flip it and discuss how practicing or studying creative writing can benefit journalists, but I’ll stop there. 

CH: The grounding you have here, then, is important to the absurdist angles you come at your stories from, and how you write them so convincingly. You might move the story to a strange space, but you establish the rules for each piece and keep to them. A good example of this is “Timothy’s Severed Head.” The head arrives so matter-of-factly, as if it were a piece of furniture (which, in some sense, I think, it ends up becoming). You mention the variety of styles your stories use—The Trouble with Language includes stories as different as “Brockville, ’72,” a stream-of-thought narrative that is also traditional, I suppose, and something like “Jailbreak.” Do you have any archetypal ‘perfect reader’ in mind when you write? 

RF: Yeah, setting up that assuredness and matter-of-factness about odd detail seems important to some of my stories. At least it’s something I’ve found really helps. “Brockville ’72” is not my typical mode of writing, as much as I adore voice-driven narrative. But it was possible for me to access that specific voice, so I was able to make it work.

I don’t think I have an archetypal ‘perfect reader.’ I’d say someone who values imagination, who has not grown out of a childlike sense of play and possibility. And maybe also someone who welcomes, or at least accepts, some shifts in style or aesthetic when they serve the writing.

CH: I think what I enjoy most about your work is the variety of itthe refusal to settle from one story to the next in The Trouble with Language. I wanted to ask about one of my favourite pieces in the collection, “The Cyclops Has His Reasons.” At barely three pages, there’s this lovely prose to it, like a fifties fairy-tale, and yet the violence that arrives at the end, though it’s shocking, it’s there all along. Could you talk a little about writing the story?

RF:  It’s a story about infidelity. The lies we might let ourselves tell, or believe. Lapses in judgement that occur when we feel so compelled to achieve something that we ignore our own conscience or foresight. The impulse to avoid whole truths in favor of more beautiful partial truths. I think I wanted to explore the dynamics of infidelity, and for some reason pairing a cyclops and a siren felt very natural, because they are such different and extreme archetypes. 

The archetypes also lend themselves well to the thought experiment aspect of the story. It presents a paradox that I’ve definitely found intriguing, morally complicated, frustrating. I think the siren absolutely believes the logic of what she tries to convince the cyclops. She uses an empathetic, attractive logic. but she also uses it to seduce, and get her way. She expects non-judgement, based on her logic. At the same time, a cyclops has his ethos, right? He’s gonna be his raging, violent self, no matter what. If the siren, and the reader too, were able to go without judgement, then we’d forgive the cyclops for his final act of violence. Do we want to, and should we?

CH: You do so much in a small space to give these two characters history, and the building blocks for their responses to the world. Like the siren says, everything is cause and effect, and can be traced back to this abuse, or that event. And the cyclops is defined by all of this. Does this dichotomy play into your writing, at all? Do you feel you write as the siren thinks, applying an empathic logic to your characters? 

RF:  I think I sometimes think the way the siren thinks. But also, I think the way the cyclops thinks, in that I’m not uncomfortable with writing from my anger. I’m more siren than cyclops, but as I’ve gotten older, it’s been vital that I allow myself the space to be angry on the page. Our society deprives women of permission to access their anger. This is a problem, because anger, turned inwards, leads to self-destruction. The denial of the ability to process one’s own anger is the denial of the ability for us to really consider what it is that is causing our anger.

I’m more siren than cyclops, but as I’ve gotten older, it’s been vital that I allow myself the space to be angry on the page.

Maybe it’s not us who have a problem, if we’re feeling angry, maybe our anger is a valid, even correct, response to really problematic parts of our world. Anger, when recognized and considered mindfully (not like the cyclops, who has a hard time really considering anything) can be so valuable, and necessary to change. 

But I digress. To answer your question, I sometimes write as the siren thinks, consciously applying this empathetic logic. But most of the time, I try to present a narrative plainly, not to shy away from the causes of events, but also resist making judgement on the page. Especially in some of these longer stories, I just want to lay it out there, and let the reader see where they fall, in terms of empathy or judgement. I want to present more than I want to preach, or judge. But I suppose at times I still do both. 

CH: There’s an underlying anger, I feel, in your story “Visiting Sarah, 2005.” These two sisters who are so at odds with each other in their lifestyle and personality, if not directly in their conversation. You’ve said in a past interview that you rarely find literary depictions of women in the military—and I realised, while I was reading it, that I’d never read any, either. And that seems related to what you say about women having access to their anger restricted; people aren’t comfortable with a woman having access to potential violence, as they do in the military.

RF: If we do allow women access to anger, it’s almost never overt acts. It’s not blunt verbal expression or physical violence. Women, we hear, are scheming and slippery. If they are angry to the point of wanting to cause harm, they do it through spreading rumors, passive-aggression. They are witches, not warriors. That’s our folklore about women. Otherwise, they are damaged, and self-harming. That’s just aggression turned inwards, but we rarely call it that. There’s negative connotation in both of these ideasthe witch, the damaged goodswhereas an angry man is often powerful, masculine, hot-blooded. He might not be good, but he’s a force to be reckoned with. 

I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m advocating for violence, because I’m not! Violence is an action, while anger is an emotion. It’s a useful, and valid emotion. I don’t think it should be overindulged, but anger plus mindfulness can be incredibly valuable. There is a lot to be angry about in this world, for women, as much as men, if not often more. To deny anger as an emotional response is to deny the possibility of progress.

CH: I immediately thought of film here, because so often, men in film can turn to violence for the flimsiest of reasons, but women usually have to have something truly awful happen before their anger/violence is permitted. (Tarantino films spring to mind.) That idea of permission threads into your story, “An Exercise in Etiquette,” toothe passive narrator (passive because of her own struggle with her mental health) contrasted with what takes place in the story, and that final line. Where something happens, she says out loud what happened to her, but you (or at least I) wonder where the story goes from that last line. 

RF:  Tarantino loves a good revenge fantasy, doesn’t he? But yeah, many of my characters hold back the truth of their desires, emotions, intellect, intelligence. They, like me, never believed they were given permission to express these things, or let these things guide their actions. In fact, they have been raised to believe doing so would, in itself, be a violent act. It’s all twisted and mixed up, and it seems to hinge around the concept of the fragile male ego, and threat of what might happen if that ego is bruised. In We Should All be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says that we essentially teach girls to “grow up to be women who turn pretense into an art form.” That was true when I was growing up, and in many ways it’s true today, too, even if there seem to be some shifts. 

The narrator in “An Exercise in Etiquette” would rather put herself into uncomfortable situations than hurt any man’s ego. This feels like self-protection, but really it’s self-destruction. This feels like protecting others, too. But really it’s damaging to everyone in her path, including the men she doesn’t want to hurt. I remember workshopping this story once, and a guy in the workshop said something along the lines of, “I just wanted the character to do something.”  He was  frustrated by her lack of agency, and seemed to crave her agency as a driving force in the plot. That makes sense. We’re taught that plot = motivation + action. But passivity is a decision, and an action. I remember, in that workshop, feeling like, if she did something, it would be dishonest. 

We’re taught that plot = motivation + action. But passivity is a decision, and an action.

CH: Who would you say are the influences you’re aware of, in terms of writing fiction? Lydia Davis springs to mind when I read some of your shorter stories, and there is that vein of Vonnegut, and Saunders in how you pull off genuinely funny lines of prose. 

RF:  I’ve heard Lydia Davis before, and that makes sense to me in terms of compression and sometimes tone. I definitely remember discovering Lydia Davis years ago, and feeling compelled towards the mini form. I also read an interview or essay about her which mentioned she writes so short because that’s what she has time for, and I totally relate to that. Reading that felt like a form of permission to go small. 

Saunders also makes sense! He was my thesis advisor during my MFA at Syracuse University, and he’s a champion of humor in fiction, so I’m sure that rubbed off on me. I read fairly widely, and anything has the potential to influence me. 

But, in terms of my overall style, I’d say my influences are a mix of 1) Writers who produce what you might call gritty realism (Carver, Mary Gaitskill’s early stories, Denis Johnson come to mind). 2) Writers who fall under an “unreality” umbrella. Magical realists, surrealists, and contemporary fabulists (Marquez, Aimee Bender, Etgar Keret, Murakami, Kelly Link, Barthelme, Leonora Carrington). And then probably also modernists, especially Virginia Woolf, and postmodernists like Clarice Lispector and Italo Calvino. I also am very moved by works in translation, and the way reading good translations can breathe new life into the English language. Yeah, it’s a mash-up, for sure. 

CH: I really enjoyed your sketches and notes from one of Saunders’s talks. There is an openness to being light, even in the most sombre story, that you and Saunders share. What is it about Denis Johnson that you feel speaks to you, as a writer? Have you had a chance to read his last collection of stories?

Your story, “Three Women I Almost Loved” has been translated and published in Spanish. How does it feel to see your story transformed by another language?

A: I’m glad you enjoyed the sketches! The first Denis Johnson I read was Jesus’ Son. It just blew me away with its honesty, strangeness, and ridiculously beautiful language. I don’t love every story in the book, but I do love most. I remember reading this and thinking, man, this guy can do anything.  He just goes there. He’s by turns blunt and poetic. He uses humor, but also violence, to great effect. He allows reality to fully filter in from his characters’ (sometimes drugged-up, or otherwise off-kilter) perceptions. He leans into miraculous moments. There’s this bit in “Work” where the narrator sees, or imagines seeing, his friend’s wife hang gliding naked above him. It’s just this perfect, unreal moment, and he ties it in so purposefully. He also uses metaphor in a similar way. Reading Train Dreams was revelatory too, in its own way. I did read his final collection, The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, and enjoyed it, as well. 

“Three Women I Almost Loved” was translated into Italian by Black Coffee Press. When they contacted me about it, I was super excited. I’d love to hear it read out loud by someone who’s fluent. I’m so appreciative of translations, and translators, and I’m glad the story had an opportunity to be experienced by non-English speakers. 

CH: Train Dreams feels like one of the defining novels of a generation, given how many writers I’ve heard credit it in some way or another. Talking of the unreal in stories, how do you come to some of the images in your stories? How do you approach bringing something like the girl that metamorphosises into a moose, into “A Failed Kidnapping”? What I thought you did so well in that particular scene, was how you remained matter-of-fact within it“She grunts at me and says she will miss some things about her human form. Eating chocolate, for example, and jumping rope.”

RF: I wish I had a formula for coming up with the images in my story. It’s unhelpful, I’m sure, to say “they just come to me,” but a lot of the time, they do. I’m not sure exactly why I turned the girl into a moose in “A Failed Kidnapping.” I just knew that something definitive needed to happen, and the story needed a shift. The character in that story is in such a funk, even if it is a funk laced a little with magical thinking. She’s almost depressed. She is a depressed magical thinker. She’s certainly not connecting to the present world in a very solid way, and she’s always thinking of the past, be it her ancestors, or her childhood friend. I needed something immediate and jarring to happen to her, something to give her a renewed sense of wonder in the “now.”

Then, those little mundane details, the chocolate, the jumping rope, seemed to keep us tethered to reality. They are simple joys a child might miss, if she did have to leave her child form, even to become a majestic moose. I think, too, those details resonate with the idea of loss, of the inevitability of having to give things up. 

A lot of time, the “magic” is a manifestation of a feeling. Shrinking could be some kind of low point, or self-consciousness. Floating away might be related to dissociation, needing to distance oneself from a situation. Quicksand is just one of those childhood images that stuck. There is a lot of halving in my stories. Characters breaking apart, and I think that’s a reflection of feeling one might be inhabited by competing selves or desires. 

A lot of time, the “magic” is a manifestation of a feeling.

CH: I think you’re right, there’s often no real conscious decision-making to these things. When you’ve written the first draft of a story like “A Failed Kidnapping,” or similar stories in The Trouble with Language, what’s your editing process? Do you write everything on a computer? You’ve said that you can struggle to find the time to sit and write something outis it a case of using the Notes app on your phone in between classes?

RF: Almost everything I write begins and ends on my laptop. Though the more I’m forced to spend time on a laptop (thanks, pandemic), the more I want to reach for a good old-fashioned pad and pen.

My editing process tends to vary depending on the storywhether it needs large overhauls or just sharper language. Once most of the big-picture elements are where they need to be, I try to do what my former professor, Arthur Flowers, calls a “poetry draft.” Over the years, the language of a story, the rhythm and syntax of the prose, has become a larger focus.

Some of my stories, though, needed to be written many times over.  Sometimes I know an idea has value, but it takes a lot to find the right way to tell it. Then there are the stories that I think are finished, but don’t end up getting much love from lit mags or publishers. I thought an earlier version of one of the stories in The Trouble with Language, “Something to Do, Someone to Love,” was finished when it was about twice as long, and told from a different point of view. But nobody wanted it, so I just thought screw it, and I sliced out whole narrative threads, changed the point of view. Then it got attention. 

Regarding struggling to find time, I wish I was a writer who could whip out their phone and get to work for five free minutes. I just don’t seem to operate like that. I need some kind of mental continuum to settle into something. Maybe I only think I need that.  More important than the “time” struggle, though, is the “headspace” struggle. Currently, I am pouring so much creative and emotional energy into my teaching. Especially teaching during the pandemic. I’m an introvert, and as much as I love my job, it really takes it out of me.

CH: You’ve moved around a fair bitNew York, Montreal, Maryland. Do you enjoy moving around between cities? As a joint US-Canadian citizen, were you able to make Canada feel like a second home?

RF: I would love to say I enjoy moving. I’d come off as a much more adventurous person. In some ways I really do enjoy it. It’s fascinating to figure out the nuances of a community, its people and culture. It keeps things dynamic, and gives you more to explore, and learn. You get to enjoy new landscapes and architecture, food, forms of entertainment. Big cities like Montreal are just chock full of excitement. There are huge street festivals, museums, parks, all kinds of wonderful artistic, cultural, gastronomical happenings. 

But moving around means having to start over. This can really prevent you from feeling like you ever truly belong in a place. You have to make new friends, try to find your people. It can feel like everything around you is established, and you have to find a way to chisel into something solid. I’m sure it’s easier for some than others. I never felt like a true Quebecer, even if, by the last couple years, I was more or less comfortable. I don’t think I feel like a true Western Marylander now, even though I’ve lived here for five years. 

My perception of home must be a bit odd, by this point. Nowhere I’ve lived has felt as much like home as my memory of New Hampshire when I was growing up there. I do feel like I have a home. It’s just not that deep “warm and fuzzy” feeling we tend to attach to the concept. It’s more like: this is where I live now. It works. I’m comfortable enough.

CH: Can I ask what you’re working on now? Do you feel an urge to move to a novel, next, or would you prefer to stay with shorter forms? 

RF: I am just beginning to get my fingers moving again, working on a couple stories. One, if it sticks, may potentially develop into a longer form. It’s too early to tell. I do feel an urge to move towards a novel. That urge is partially driven by wanting to sink deeper into, and sit longer with, a narrative. Also, I think I want to discover what a Rebecca Fishow novel would even look like. I can hardly guess.