Episode 141: From Short Stories to Novels — Interview with Susan Perabo

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Hey there word nerds!

Today I am excited to interview author and creative writing professor, Susan Perabo. She is a writer-in-residence and professor at Dickinson College, and in this episode, we talk about making that transition from short fiction to novels (or vice versa) and what writers can learn from both forms. We also discuss different short story techniques Susan uses in her latest book, The Fall of Lisa Bellow, which is out now.

In this episode Susan and I discuss:

  • How we get to know characters through little glimpses of their lives (in writing workshop terms, we get a lot of “showing” rather than “telling”). We dive into one of those moments in Susan’s process and unpack how writers can give readers a full perspective of the characters by showing them in a scene.
  • Why it is important for writers to be able to write short form as well as book-length fiction. We also discuss some of the challenges and some of the advantages that short form brings to the craft of writing.
  • The use of imagery (both in simile and metaphor) to convey complex ideas or emotions. We talk about what writers need to think about when using simile or metaphor in this way.

Plus, Susan’s #1 tip for writers.

About the Author

Susan Perabo is the author of two short story collections, Why They Run the Way They Do and Who I Was Supposed to Be, and the novel, The Broken Places. Her fiction has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories, Pushcart Prize Stories, and New Stories from the South, and has appeared in numerous magazines, including One Story, Glimmer Train, The Iowa Review, The Missouri Review, and The Sun. She is Writer in Residence and Professor of English and Creative Writing at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. Her new book, The Fall of Lisa Bellow, is out now.

To learn more about Susan Perabo and her books, check out her page on Facebook and Goodreads, or follow her on Twitter at @SusanPerabo.

The Fall of Lisa Bellow

When a masked man with a gun enters a sandwich shop in broad daylight, Meredith Oliver suddenly finds herself ordered to the filthy floor, where she cowers face to face with her nemesis, Lisa Bellow, the most popular girl in her eighth grade class. The minutes tick inexorably by, and Meredith lurches between comforting the sobbing Lisa and imagining her own impending death. Then the man orders Lisa Bellow to stand and come with him, leaving Meredith the girl left behind.

After Lisa’s abduction, Meredith spends most days in her room, slipping from her world into Lisa’s. As the community stages vigils and searches, Claire, Meredith’s mother, is torn between relief that her daughter is alive and helplessness over her inability to protect or even comfort her child. Her daughter is here, but not.

Like Everything I Never Told You and Room, The Fall of Lisa Bellow is edgy and original, a hair-raising exploration of the ripple effects of an unthinkable crime. It is a dark, beautifully rendered, and gripping novel about coping, about coming-of-age, and about forgiveness. It is also a beautiful illustration of how one family, broken by tragedy, finds healing.

If you decide to check out the book, we hope you’ll do so via this Amazon affiliate link, where if you choose to purchase DIY MFA makes a small commission at no cost to you. As always, thank you for supporting DIY MFA!

Link to Episode 141

(Right-click to download.)

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Until next week, keep writing and keep being awesome!

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