Rethinking Small Towns and Fragments: An Interview with Chad Simpson

Chad Simpson is the winner of the 2012 John Simmons Short Fiction Award. His short story collection Tell Everyone I Said Hi was published by the University of Iowa Press in 2012.

Chad was raised in Monmouth, Illinois, and Logansport, Indiana. His stories and essays have appeared in McSweeney’s, The Sun, Esquire, Barrelhouse, American Short Fiction, and many other print and online publications. He also is the author of a chapbook of short fiction, Phantoms, published by Origami Zoo Press in 2010. A recipient of an Illinois Arts Council fellowship in prose, he teaches at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, where he received the Philip Green Wright/Lombard College Prize for Distinguished Teaching in 2010. He lives in Monmouth, Illinois, with his wife, Jane.

The Fourth River: The collection of stories in Tell Everyone I Said Hi feels natural and complete. Did that evolve naturally or did you find yourself pushing hard to create new pieces to fill in the gaps?

Chad Simpson: Well, thank you. I don’t think anyone’s yet said such a thing to me. I’d say it’s a combination of the two. I wrote the stories in this book over a span of about eight years. During that time, I wrote over a hundred stories, and I published about forty of them. As I began to collect the stories, I tried a lot of combinations, and in the end, I worked very intuitively. I considered theme, obviously, but also how different stories were structured, and how long they were. I began to think of the way the stories were arranged as being almost a musical thing—I thought of each story as having beats, motifs, etc., and I arranged the pieces accordingly.

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