Short Story Prize
Reader Q&A with Corey Redekop
As we prepare to unveil the shortlist for the 2013 CBC Short Story Prize, we're asking the readers for the competition what it's like to read hundreds of short stories in search of the best. Author and publicist Corey Redekop talks about his tattoo, his trouble with (and admiration of) conciseness, and the recurring theme of death.
Tell us about yourself. Where do you live and what do you write?
I abide in Fredericton, NB. I write what I please, mostly novels.
What's your day job?
I’m the publicist for Goose Lane Editions, the oldest independent publisher in Canada. Which may make me the oldest publicist in Canada, I’m not sure.
What's your literary street cred?
My last novel Husk was named one of the top books of 2012 by editors at Amazon.ca. I also have the cover art of my debut novel Shelf Monkey tattooed on my right shoulder. Yes, I bleed for my art.
What are you working on now?
I’m at a literary way station of sorts, just prepping for yet another year-long journey into the depths of my mind. So I’m packing some snacks, and a change of underwear.
What do you like most about the short story as a form?
Conciseness. It’s a skill I sorely lack. For example, this answer originally had a word count north of five hundred. It’s taken me hours to trim it.
When you’re reading hundreds of stories and trying to choose the most exceptional ones, what are you looking for?
I don’t have set criteria for judging—if you’ve told the story well, it’ll work. But originality, in theme, plot, or style, will always grab my attention. And if I’m still mulling a story over a few days after reading it, it’s a fair bet the tale made some impact on me.
What are some of the subjects/themes that people are writing about?
There was a lot of death lying about my reading area for a few weeks. Stories of people dying, or dealing with the death of a loved one. Also a lot of stories told from the point of view of animals. Thankfully, there was no first-animal account of its own death, or I’d still be curled up in the fetal position, weeping uncontrollably.
Has being a reader for the Short Story Prize changed anything about how you approach your own writing? Would you do anything different if you were to submit to the competition?
If anything, it’s made be re-evaluate how I approach certain themes. I’d strive for a new angle to any subject; it really is the best way to get noticed.
Can you describe a couple of the entries that struck you as standouts?
"Sleight of Hand" was one of the most original stories I have come across, in this context or otherwise. A downtrodden door-to-door magician? Genius. And "Parse" was almost a long-form poem in its construction; it’s not easy to gain momentum when you’ve only used one sentence, but damned if the author didn’t pull it off. In both, we see absolutely original ideas and superb execution.