Stephanie Spector of the Roanoke Review Interviewed me in January 2015 about my story, “Mermaids” that won the Roanoke Review fiction prize (see archives 2012 issue). Read both story and the interview at the Roanoke Review website.
S.S. You wrote a post about how you identify yourself as a fiction (and, occasionally, a nonfiction) writer. Why do you think you relate to those two genres more than poetry?
J.B. Well I am a short story writer. I’ve heard it said that short story writers are failed poets, and that may be true in my case. My few attempts to write poetry have been soundly rejected. I sent a few out and one editor scrawled – “Give it up. You are not a poet.” That was harsh and probably not true at all, but it gave me pause to think that I am not getting any younger and I probably should focus my writer’s efforts on perfecting a particular aspect of my talents. Ironically, I have taught students how to read, write and look deeply into the beauty of poetry. I often sit down on a rainy afternoon and read a poetry collection in full. I love hearing, feeling the music of poetry. It inspires me to do this. But the reality is that I truly love short stories. I love the complexity of the form. And I love to read novels, although I’m not “hot” to plot one. And I am a competent creative nonfiction writer too, but it doesn’t give me that surge of joy that I get from working on a successful story. A good story has the heart of a rose, the sweep of a Monarch butterfly, the smell of a sweaty horse, the song of a highway and a fast car.