Contributor Tim Weed’s story “The Money Pill” is set in Cuba. It is one of 20 stories in Volume I of Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet. Published in 2014, the book is available from Press 53, Amazon.com, and Barnes & Noble.
Tim Weed’s fiction has appeared in Colorado Review, Gulf Coast, Sixfold, and many other journals and anthologies. He is the winner of a Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Award and a Best Travel Writing Solas Award, and his collected stories have been shortlisted for the New Rivers Press Many Voices Project, the Autumn House Fiction Prize, and the Lewis-Clark Press Discovery Award. Based in Vermont, Tim is a lecturer in the MFA Writing program at Western Connecticut State University and a featured expert for National Geographic Expeditions in Cuba, Spain, and Patagonia. Will Poole’s Island, Tim’s first novel, was published in 2014.
Tim Weed’s comment on “The Money Pill”—One of the somber joys of being a fiction writer is that you can insert your characters into difficult and/or morally dubious situations without having to suffer or inflict the real-world consequences of their actions. “The Money Pill” grew out of a series of trips I made to the eastern part of Cuba in the earliest years of the 21st century. Writing it was, in part, a process of taking several jotted-down interactions and playing them out to their logical conclusions. On a deeper level—over the many drafts it took to get the story into an intelligible form—certain themes began to emerge that captured something essential, for me at least, about Cuba and the wealthy superpower that is its close and yet utterly estranged neighbor.
Contributor William Kelley Woolfitt’s story, “Jackal Weather,” is set in Lebanon. It’s one of 20 stories included in Volume II of Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet, available now from Press 53, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
William Kelley Woolfitt is the author of the poetry collections Beauty Strip (Texas Review Press, 2014) and Charles of the Desert (Paraclete Press, 2016). His fiction chapbook The Boy with Fire in His Mouth (2014) won the Epiphany Editions contest. His poems and stories have appeared in Blackbird, Image, Tin House, The Threepenny Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Epoch, and other journals. He is the recipient of the Howard Nemerov Scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and the Denny C. Plattner Award from Appalachian Heritage.
William Kelley Woolfitt’s comment on “Jackal Weather”—I wanted to write a story about George Rashid, the so-called Pickens Leper, a peddler who immigrated to the United States from Lebanon in 1902. According to reports, Rashid was detained in Maryland by railroad employees who thought his disease made him dangerous; the railroad company transported him to its most isolated station, the village of Pickens in the mountains of West Virginia. An enclosure was built to quarantine Rashid in Pickens; possibly, he was kept there against his will. Then I drifted away from Rashid’s biography and my first intentions. I instead wrote about a family whose son immigrates. Before writing about the geographical remoteness and enclosure walls that might erase a man like Rashid, I think I had to write about losing sight and gaining vision, about absence and presence and how they mingle, overlap, may start to resemble one other.
Contributor Christopher Woods’s story, “Today, Quite Early,” is set in Mexico. It’s one of 20 stories included in Volume II of Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet, available now from Press 53, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
Christopher Woods is a writer, teacher and photographer who lives in Houston and Chappell Hill, Texas. He has published a novel, The Dream Patch, a prose collection, Under a Riverbed Sky,and a book of stage monologues for actors, Heart Speak. His work has appeared in The Southern Review, New England Review, New Orleans Review, Columbia and Glimmer Train, among others. His photographs can be seen in his gallery christopherwoods.zenfolio.com. He is currently compiling a book of photography prompts for writers, From Vision to Text.
Christopher Woods’s comment on “Today, Quite Early”—The inspiration for this story came in an ironic way. I was in a swimming pool in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I had a conversation with two women who were also in the pool. As it turns out, they were staying in a much larger resort hotel nearby, but they had come to my smaller hotel because there had been a drowning, of a bridegroom, in their hotel pool the night before. They were spooked. As they told me what had happened, I knew I had a story to write. I needed to decide on a narrator for the story, and that is when I thought of a hotel maid.
Contributor Frank Scozzari’s story, “Too Old for War,” is set in Kenya. It’s one of 20 stories included in Volume II of Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet, available now from Press 53, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
Frank Scozzari lives on the California central coast. He is an avid traveler and once climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest point in Africa. A multiple Pushcart Prize nominee, his award-winning short stories have been widely anthologized and featured in literary theater.
Frank Scozzari’s comment on “Too Old for War”—Traveling once in Kenya I stayed a couple nights in a Masai village. The villagers were very hospitable, sang songs, and shared stories. We were introduced to their customs, food, and their “tools of life,” among them, their weapons. One story was told about an aging tribal king, from which came the inspiration for “Too Old for War.”
Contributor Candace Robertson’s story, “Epistolize the Abandoned,” is set in Chicago. It’s one of 20 stories included in Volume II of Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet, available now from Press 53, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
Candace M. Robertson is a freelance writer from southern Louisiana. She received her BA from Columbia College Chicago where she developed an interest in all forms of storytelling. She has spent many years as a transient student and will be finishing her M.Ed. through Concordia University-Portland this year. She has published a couple of flash fiction stories since undergrad. She was also a contributing writer in the 2014 Bacchanal Festival of Southern Rep Theater in New Orleans. And she is now a writing participant in the 6×6 performance submission group. She looks forward to sharing more of her work professionally, but in the meantime, her blog, drawings, online zines, and film shorts can be found at brutefruitproductions.com.
Candace Robertson’s comment on “Epistolize the Abandoned”–When I was in undergrad in Chicago, the downtown Loop had a very large homeless population. To witness it forced me to consider not only the helpless state of others but my own financial and life limitations. That experience combined with what I’ve since learned about the challenges that homeless teens face and the epidemic of human trafficking inspired “Traffic King.” During my time in Chicago I became friendly with a middle-age man who sat outside of the construction site next door to one of the school’s main buildings. He inspired “Juby’s Keepsake.” But my concern and helplessness to change the situation of so many people led me to write “Bus Stop” from the perspective of the grandmother and “Waiting” from the perspective of the mother. Homelessness is a part of life for so many people living with or in a state of lack. People can feel this isolated or abandoned just above or well below the poverty line. But it’s hard to save yourself or anyone else if you don’t have anything to give.
Contributor Brooks Rexroat’s story, “All that Water,” is set in Ireland. It’s one of 20 stories included in Volume II of Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet, available now from Press 53, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
Brooks Rexroat is a writer, teacher, and musician. The Cincinnati, Ohio native holds a bachelor of arts degree in print journalism from Morehead State University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. A 2014 Bread Loaf Bakeless Camargo Fellow and 2016-17 Fulbright Scholar in Novosibirsk, Russia, his stories have appeared in Day One, The Montreal Review, Cheap Pop, and Best of Ohio Short Stories Vols. I and II. His debut novel Pine Gap is forthcoming from Peasantry Press. Visit him online at brooksrexroat.com.
Brooks Rexroat’s comment on “All that Water”—In 2010, I spent half a year in Ireland as part of a writing fellowship. Among the most striking things I encountered there was the idea of American Wake. Particularly during the third wave of Irish-American immigration, a person or family preparing to emigrate would essentially be subject to a funeral thrown in their honor—an event that could range in attitude from serious passive-aggression with a morbid bit of tenderness. After all, the boat wasn’t guaranteed to make it, and even if it did, separation would likely be permanent. My favorite thing to examine in fiction is the interaction of characters and environment, and the American Wake is a pinpoint moment of suspension between two geographies. In this story, I wanted to examine the decisions we make about location by bringing this antiquated practice into the context of modern immigration.
Contributor Brandon Patterson’s story, “Jonkshon,” is set in Sierra Leone. It’s one of 20 stories included in Volume II of Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet, available now from Press 53, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
Brandon Patterson’s recent work has appeared in Night Train, Thin Air, Free State Review, and TheMacGuffin. He is a former fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.
Brandon’s comment on “Jonkshon”—The story has its roots in an interview I conducted with a middle-aged couple who had fled Sierra Leone and resettled in southwestern Virginia. The husband had worked in upper-level management for a telecom; the wife, much like Mrs. Blair, was educated in the US and had a role with the UN. They had one child, a school-aged girl whose name was a combination of her parents’ first names, and they lived in Freetown near the beach. When asked about why the civil war had started, they blamed it entirely on the rural populations; to paraphrase their descriptions, these people were cocaine-addicted, uneducated, and willfully ignorant provincials. I created “Jonkshon” from two of their stories in which they avoided death despite actions I’d call (at best) obtuse. Maybe they embellished the tale to impress listeners, but if that’s the case they did so at their own expense. Whatever its veracity, the interview stayed stuck in my brain until I wrote about it. When I eventually did, I had to square their accounts with the Sierra Leone remembered by other refugees. Joseph and the story’s eventual direction came from this need, as did some edits and additions made since it was first published.
Contributor Frances Park’s story, “The Monk in the Window,” is set in South Korea. It’s one of 20 stories included in Volume II of Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet, available now from Press 53, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
Frances Park wrote her first novel on an Underwood typewriter at the age of ten, and has kept the dream going. In addition to short stories and essays, she’s the author or co-author of ten books including novels, children’s books, and a memoir published in five countries. For her work, shes been interviewed on Good Morning America, National Public Radio, Voice of America, and The Diane Rehm Show. She lives in the Washington, DC area.
Frances Park’s comment on “The Monk in the Window”—A curated excerpt from a longer work, the story is set in post-war Korea, a period that both fascinates and saddens me, as my newlywed parents lived through the war. The figure of the monk has loomed large in my imagination ever since my mother told me the story about how an actual monk once knocked on their door in Seoul and made wild predictions—some tragic, some not. They all came true.
Contributor Gabriela Maya’s story, “Let us go forth into the wide world,” is set in Brazil. It’s one of 20 stories included in Volume II of Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet, available now from Press 53, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
Gabriela Maya was born in Sweden to Brazilian parents in political exile. At thirteen she moved to Brazil with her parents and spent her teens in Rio de Janeiro, absorbing the vast difference between continents. Not content with Europe and South America, she lived for two and a half years in Japan studying ceramics, and then proceeded to pursue an MFA in Creative writing at the University of Iowa and a PhD. in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Houston. She teaches at the University of Houston Honors College.
Gabriela Maya’s comment on “Let us go forth into the wide world”—I spent my teens living in Rio de Janeiro, and the presence of homeless children there is ubiquitous—quite a difference from the streets of Stockholm, where I had lived during my childhood. Children of the middle-class in Rio are cautioned to stay away from these pivetes, as they are disdainfully called, who often beg, peddle candy or engage in small thefts. I remember one day when I was walking down the stairs to the subway station with several other teenagers from my private school, and a small, black, bare-chested boy of maybe ten years of age, dangling from the bannister, looked me right in the eyes and smiled radiantly. I smiled back. As soon as we had passed by, my colleagues started poking fun at me and warning me against such interactions. I didn’t say anything at the time, but this incident stuck with me. I began to write a series of portraits and histories of street kids as I imagined they might be, with full histories of where they came from and what they longed for. Much later, I was studying fairy tales in graduate school and began to link the lives of these children with the kind of lack and abuse that is often pictured at the start of fairy tales, and I realized that the fairy tale could provide me with a particular kind of framework for these portraits. The story of how Carla ended up on the street is one of these portraits.