Below is a brief excerpt of an interview between Autumn House author Sherrie Flick and Necessary Fiction‘s Angela Mitchell. To read the full review, visit NF’s site here.
AM: Thank Your Lucky Stars consists of both longer short stories and flash (many of these less than a page long), and food imagery abounds in them. As I read TYLS, I found myself thinking of the flash pieces as pallet cleansers, set between larger, heavier courses. In addition, the entire collection is divided into four parts, which contributed to the sense of a multi-course experience. How much of this merging of imagery and structure was intentional during the writing and arranging? How did you decide upon the order of the stories?
SF: I love the idea of my book as a four-course meal. It’s true food abounds in the stories. I guess that’s kind of unavoidable since food abounds in my nonfictional life. I have a big garden and I cook and bake and write about food for magazines and newspapers. I teach in the Food Studies department at Chatham University so I’m aware of how food is connected to culture and community — a binder as it were. With that said, I did not think about the sections as courses as I put the manuscript together.
I did think a lot about allowing resting places for my reader. I find that flash fiction can sometimes overwhelm readers if it comes one after another across the pages. So, for this collection I tried to create an internal rhythm for the collection with rest stops and general pacing within each section. I didn’t so much work around the longer stories as place longer stories around the flash. I think most people would work the other way around. But since I’m flash oriented I prioritized it in the ordering and maybe that worked out.
It’s really challenging to order 50 stories in a collection without it seeming like chaos. I tried to connect the worlds through objects and repeated themes and places so it felt like a whole, even though the stories weren’t linked in any way.
Even after Autumn House had accepted the collection, I changed the order of the opening section quite a bit.