Against Her Fading Hour, discusses his book, his journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.
DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Against Her Fading Hour?
ISAAC SWEENEY: It's a mini-collection of short stories, three of them all from women's perspectives. They are a bit strange, maybe even slightly absurd, stories that attempt to reveal something about the characters, about some women, and about the human condition.
In "Handi-Cure," Elisa is a widow looking for acceptance in the world. She tries to find it in men but, after an unusual experience in a nail salon, she makes personal changes.
“Urine Trouble Now” is about a young couple and their overly anxious cat. The cat pees on the floor, which brings up details about the couple's relationship.
In “Lemonade Nights,” after Marco's father dies, he burns down the backyard shed in a fit of rage. Feeling guilty, he decides to rebuild the shed. His wife, Emma, likes having a husband who is good with his hands, but soon feels lonely as Marco spends more and more time on his project.
DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
ISAAC SWEENEY: My stories are about the characters first. A story is nothing without its characters. Every story I write begins based on something real, then transforms into its own thing. The characters develop on their own. I simply place a person in a situation and see what she does. The characters end up differentiating themselves.
DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?
ISAAC SWEENEY: People who like fiction that makes them think after they stop reading.
DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?
ISAAC SWEENEY: I've been a writer as long as I can remember, putting the weird voices in my head down on paper in elementary school. I studied writing in college, then in grad school. And now I teach writing at various levels. I never wanted to do anything else. I like all forms: short stories, novels (though I haven't finished one yet), plays, poetry, essays, nonfiction, screenplays, etc.
DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?
ISAAC SWEENEY: I draft and revise, revise, revise. I cut as much as possible. If there's a gun on the mantle, it will go off, so to speak. I adhere to Strunk's rule, "Vigorous writing is concise."
DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?
ISAAC SWEENEY: A variety, but lately it's been some old hats, if you will: Arthur Miller, Flannery O'Connor, Tennessee Williams. I think Against Her Fading Hour was particularly inspired by the work of O'Connor and Steve Almond.
DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?
ISAAC SWEENEY: I'm not sure there's anything I wish I would've written. Maybe Hamlet (just kidding). There are pieces I admire (ok, maybe I envy them a little). The first that comes to mind is the genius that is Jasper Fforde, his Thursday Next series especially. The Eyre Affair is hilarious magic.
I enjoy the twisted mind of Stephen King—I'm more Nightmares and Dreamscapes than The Shining. "Dolan's Cadillac" is a great short story.
Speaking of twisted minds, I will come clean and admit that I wish I had written "A Good Man is Hard to Find," by Flannery O'Connor.
DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?
ISAAC SWEENEY: I'm on facebook and twitter (@isaacsweeney). I do some interviews now and then. Mostly, I keep talking about writing and about short stories and about reading.
DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?
ISAAC SWEENEY: I received a Kindle as a gift for Christmas 2010. I realized I had all these works that are pretty good. I've been rejected before. I've had some success publishing. My rejection list is longer than my success list. So I took control and put my stuff out there myself.
DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?
ISAAC SWEENEY: The editor in me tells you to make sure your text is clean. Make sure you haven't written "loose" when you meant "lose" or "women" when you meant "woman." If you can't do this yourself, hire someone. Other than that, keep writing. Don't spend all your time promoting. The best promotion is to write more, in my opinion.
DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.
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