Hannah Tinti is the author of the short story collection Animal Crackers and the New York Times Notable Book of the Year The Good Thief , which won the John Sargent Jr. First Novel Prize and the American Library Association's Alex Award. She's also the editor and co-founder of the very fabulous One Story (WHAT DO YOU MEAN you are not a subscriber, Author-friend? DO YOU NOT CARE ABOUT FICTION?), and winner of the 2009 PEN/Magid Award for Editorial Excellence for her work with the magazine.
Please tell everyone a little bit about who you are and what you do.
I’m the co-founder and editor in chief of One Story magazine. I’m also a writer and have published two books: Animal Crackers and The Good Thief . I’m Irish/Italian, worked most of my life in publishing (bookstores, literary agencies, magazines) and grew up in Salem, MA—so I’ve always had a bit of a dark side.
You have a near-legendary reputation as an editor (including winning the 2009 Pen/Nora Magid Award). What do you think makes a great editor? What do you love most about working with writers?
I think the best editors listen closely to their writers and ask them questions that help them focus their work. I always start each session with a new writer by asking them what the seed of the story was, and also, what they think the story is about. My favorite part of working with authors is the friendship that develops between us. Many of my good friends are writers I’ve worked with over the years.
Is it challenging to balance nurturing other writers with focusing on your own work? Do you find anything particularly useful or rewarding about navigating that balance?
It’s a constant challenge, because my editorial work always has deadlines, and my creative work rarely does, unless I’m under contract. That said, editing has helped my own writing enormously—it’s easier for me to find the distance and see my own work with a critical eye.
How do you see One Story fitting in to the rapidly changing world of publishing?
I believe that one of the reasons One Story has caught on so well is that it breaks the mold of the traditional literary magazine, by focusing on just one writer at a time, and considering short stories as individual works of art. Our format makes for easy, portable reading—and our subscribers feel engaged and part of a community, because we come out so frequently.
Americans don't read short stories: total myth of publishing? Kind of true? Why does the short story get such a bad rap?
If you look at the numbers from publishing companies, it’s nearly always true: short story collections sell less than novels. But that doesn’t mean that people don’t read short stories, because that number doesn’t take into account individual short stories published in magazines and online and being read in schools. In just a few years we’ve grown to 7,000 subscribers at One Story , and I think that shows people are eager for short fiction.I also believe, with the advancement of technology, short stories will get an even bigger jump, once people begin to read on their cell phones and other portable devices.
Some books you've read lately and found pleasing?
Once the Shore by Paul Yoon, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us by Laura van den Berg, Reasons For and Advantages of Breathing by Lydia Peelle, The Cradle by Patrick Somerville, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth by Kevin Wilson, That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo
Does the One Story staff practice their dance moves, or are they just naturally that good?
It’s natural. Although there has been some talk of preparing a choreographed dance for AWP, where we rip off pairs of matching Velcro pants.
Author photo: Linda Carrion