What do you find appealing about the short story form?
The short story is appealing because it forces you to get everything right. As one of my professors once said, there isn’t any room for error. Everything—each sentence, character, and plot twist—needs to be essential to the piece. This may sound unappealing, but I think from a writer’s standpoint, the short story offers up a challenge of sorts. If a writer can master this form, she has the ability to master almost anything.
What influenced this piece?
I consider “The Gray Hours” to be part of a series of short stories, all focused on language. I wrote this piece with the intention of evoking a certain mood related to solitude and depression. I was especially interested in the narrator’s ability to find something meaningful and appealing in her environment, despite its flaws.
Which writer/body of work has informed your writing and/or inspired you?
I tend to like work that is focused on language but also tests the limits of form. Some of my favorite contemporary writers are Marilynne Robinson, Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, and Colum McCann. My most recent, favorite reads are: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, The Ocean at the End of Lane by Neil Gaiman, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz, and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (which I am currently reading).