What is the title of the book?
Garbage Night at the Opera, after the first story in the collection.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Garbage Night at the Opera slowly came together while I was busy writing two other books. I had been working on a novel and a collection of travel stories in grad school, but was slowly accumulating these stories about life in Brooklyn and Queens, the kind of native New Yorkers who live outside the cultural fantasy image of what life in NYC is about.
What genre does your book fall under? What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Garbage Night at the Opera is linked short stories, which means the stories are inter-related, with characters reappearing in major and minor roles. It’s roughly 30 years in the life of one extended family as their neighborhood loses the factory jobs that supported them, languishes for a generation, then gentrifies beyond their means.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Short story collections tend to emerge over time, meaning that you don’t simply group the first ten stories that you write together. There are stories in my second collection that were written years before some of the stories in my first. It’s a matter of fit. Garbage Night at the Opera focuses on one family in Brooklyn, and the consequences of a community being dislocated from its primary means of support. The collection I’m working on now, Bridge & Tunnel, is mostly set in Queens, although work—particularly the Manhattan commute—is once again a central theme.
What inspired you to write this book?
In some ways, it was an homage to my mother and her close-knit family, because Greenpoint was their home and they loved it unconditionally, idealistically. She died while I was in the third year of my MFA program. Some of the characters in the book have that same love for the neighborhood. Others do not.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I’ve been told it reads like a novel. If you liked Olive Kitteridge, you might enjoy Garbage Night at the Opera.
Who is publishing this book? Are you represented by an agency?
BkMk (pronounced Bookmark) Press of the University of Missouri-Kansas City published the book December 2012. Garbage Night at the Opera won their yearly book prize, the G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction, in 2011. I do not have an agent.
Where can I buy your book?
My tagged writers for next Wednesday are:
My fellow Chandra Prize winners Laura Maylene Walter (2010) & Lauren Cobb (2012), Kate Hill Cantrill, Renee Thompson, Jodi Angel & Adam Russ. Thanks to Rus Bradbird, author of Make it, Take it for tagging me.