Charles Tan interviews Al Sarrantonio

Al Sarrantonio

Hi! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. You’ve edited several anthologies across various genres. What was your impetus for creating a “not-tied-to-one-genre” anthology?

That’s an easy one.  After deliberately doing three genre-specific anthologies in a row — 999 (horror), REDSHIFT (sf) and FLIGHTS (fantasy) the only thing left was to jump into a rainbow anthology.  When Neil Gaiman and I decided to edit STORIES, it was with the specific idea that the stories would come first, the genres second.

How did you end up co-editing the anthology with Neil Gaiman? What was the collaboration process like?

Co-editing is easy.  One of us finds a story, passes it by the other editor, and the thumbs up or down ensues.   It’s no different than if there’s a single editor.  Actually, it can be more fun, because one of us can stumble on something the other one never would.  Neil found Kat Howard, whose first published story was in STORIES, and in a million years I wouldn’t have found her wonderful piece.

What’s the appeal of the short story format for you? What are its advantages, whether it’s writing one or crafting an anthology like Stories?

The death knell for the short story has been tolling for almost a hundred years.  The form ain’t going away, and for a simple reason: it’s a fantastic way to tell a story in a one-sitting way.  What reader can resist a well-told tale, no matter what the length?  And now that e-readers are upon us, I think the form has been given another shot in the arm.  As for writing them, I’ve always thought of it like catching lightning in a bottle.  I love the constriction of the form, the dilution of energy to a point — every word counts.  It’s extended poetry without meter.  I love that!



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