For the past few months, Tania Hershman, founder and editor of the great literary website, The Short Review, has been doing a “virtual book tour,” visiting blogs around the world in conjunction with the launch of her first book, The White Road and Other Stories. Self was deeply honored that she chose Kanlaon as one of her stops. For the past day, self has been conducting an illuminating conversation with Tania (who lives in Jerusalem, so there’s a bit of a time difference there!) Below are my questions and her answers. Enjoy!
What attracts you to the short story form, and would you ever consider writing a novel?
I love the short story, for me a great story story is like a punch in the gut, it leaves you winded, reeling. It imprints itself on you not in spite of being short but because of its brevity. A novel can’t do what a short story does, and nor should it. I don’t believe in comparing short stories and novels any more than I would compare a poem and a film script. Yes, they are all made up of written words, but they are so different in form, in aspiration. I may write a novel, I may write a poem, or a screenplay. I can’t say now. It depends on the story and what the story demands.
Self-publishing is a huge industry now; Robert Frost’s first collection was self-published, as were a number of other poets and writers now in the ‘literary canon.’ Do you think this is the way a young, emerging writer should go?
To be honest, I don’t know much about self-publishing, who is doing it and where. We began a few months ago accepting self-published collections for review on The Short Review, understanding that in the current climate it is incredibly hard for a short story writer to find a publisher, but we also have several criteria, one of which is that some of the stories have been previously published. In other words, someone other than the writer has read them. I was very fortunate in finding a wonderful and dynamic independent publisher, Salt, who offered me a book deal, and there will always be the prestige associated with being paid (even a very small amount!) to publish a book rather than paying out the money yourself. I would advise a young emerging writer to send out his or her stories individually, to build up a “writing resume”, to spread their words, before they consider a collection. Whoever publishes it, a book is a lot of work!
How do you think writers will be affected by the current world-wide recession (in terms of getting emerging writers published, will there be more difficulty?)
Well, it’s never been easy. I don’t know much about economics but there are some who say that the current economic climate might make publishers more adventurous and less reliant on the whims of their sales teams, who knows?!
Has managing The Short Review helped your creativity?
Oh yes, most definitely! I read and read and read short stories, and not only that, I read them very closely when I review a book, and so I see what I love, what I don’t, and, more importantly, why. I have been introduced to so many amazing writers, and seeing what they do and how they do it gives me permission, in a sense, to try new things with my writing, to experiment outside the traditional frameworks. (more…)