An Interview with Seth D. Slater


What do you find appealing about the short story form?  

A great short story is complex, features multifarious characters in a tight, finite space and can be read over and over again with as much relish and discovery as the first read. Writing a short story is reaching for perfection and knowing you will fall remarkably short, but those few pages on tip-toe are glorious. 

What influenced this piece? 

Sherman Alexie, without a doubt. He's an incredible wordsmith and an unparalleled advocate for the indigenous people of America. Alexie isn't afraid to portray the poverty of reservations and rampant alcoholism, while simultaneously painting a picture of sovereignty, beauty, and intelligence. I'm a descendant of the Lakota Sioux and have watched as alcoholism has torn my family apart, costing one of my uncles a shot at the NBA and another his family. It almost cost my father his life. I wrote this piece Thanksgiving Day of 2014. I wanted to write a story where my protagonist came full-circle, in a sense, and going home (especially after you've been running away from home) is always a hero's journey.

Which writer/body of work has informed your writing and/or inspired you? 

Tobias Wolff is perhaps the greatest contemporary short story writer alive. I definitely strive to emulate his concise style and unforgettable characters. I am also heavily influenced by Donald Barthelme, Julie Orringer, and Junot Diaz. The latest novel I read which had a huge impact on me was When Captain Flint was Still a Good Man. Nick Dybek's characters are beautifully flawed, his pacing is magnetic, and his plot continuously pops you with a left-hook out of nowhere. I aspire to execute his sense of fluidity and character development.