Lucas Church won our 2010 Fiction Contest with a short story called "Clothes Lines." Last night, Church shared the stage at Eyedrum with the dancing bananas and Tahitian beauties of Blast Off Burlesque and read his prize winning story about George, a slip-wearing, fortune-cookie-eating high school janitor. Before the party, we caught up with Church to ask him a few questions.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I'm 31 and from North Carolina, specifically from the Appalachian mountain area in the western part of the state. I live in Decatur now and my day job is working in Emory's main library.
When and why did you start writing?
I started writing in college because I didn't know what else to do with myself. I shuddered at the idea of a job where I would work in a cubicle. I ended getting a great job at Emory where I, ahem, work in a cubicle, so life is full of surprises.
My BA from Appalachian State was in English with a Creative Writing emphasis, and ASU was an incredible environment for a college-age writer - very supportive faculty there. I've also taken fiction writing classes at Emory with some excellent teachers.
How long have you been working on "Clothes Lines"? Did anything in particular inspire you to begin work on it?
"Clothes Lines" came together pretty quickly, less than a month of working on it off-and-on. I've had stories I've worked on for over a year, so this was lightening speed for me.
The inspiration came from the idea of an unlikely acolyte of the slip and Grady is a character that I wrote about in a previous story, so I had a head start using him. I wanted to write something that was comic, but emotionally honest, not cheap.
Most of the readers have remarked that Grady is a remarkably well developed character. Was it difficult to capture his perspective?
I was lucky enough to find a reason for Grady's obsession, which opens up a character to the writer. If you can find the foothold into a character's life, then you can sympathize with them and make them human.
What makes a story good enough to compete with all of the distractions of contemporary life?
If you recognize something in a story, a character's dilemma that you've shared, a description that feels true like you thought of it yourself, an twist that you never saw coming, then fiction can compete with nearly anything.
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