Michael Reilly’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, Confrontation, Storychord, A Twist of Noir, and The Glens Falls Review. He currently makes his living as a freelance writer and lives in northwestern Connecticut.
Where did you find the idea for this story?
When I was a grad student, many of my colleagues had been working on their dissertations for years. One day I was sitting with a group of people and one of them observed that all the grad students he knew were bitter because of the way their dissertations seemed to keep their lives on hold. The lament rings true for all problems of our own making.
Did you know, starting out, the piece’s full trajectory, or did you more come upon the ending as you wrote?
The story went through many drafts. The characters stuck, but the story line was by no means a straight line. I always knew I wanted Angela to get her way, but the idea for how she would do it didn’t occur to me until very late. The final image in the last line hit me as I wrote it.
Is any part of this story true?
Yes. I once did live in a dreary, furnished basement apartment with a wall panel that came loose when I threw a coffee cup at it. Also, I haven’t been in grad school for 25 years, but my unfinished dissertation still dogs me.
What are you currently working on—any projects you’d like to promote?
I’m working on a story about a woman who names all of her sweaters after her father’s sheep, whose wool the yarn is made of. Additionally, I am putting together a collection of stories. I’m pleased to see that the short-story form is enjoying renewed popularity. There are a number of new collections hitting right now. I’m hoping to contribute to that.