We were able to get an interview with Chris Panatier about his piece “GroundsKeeper” in Issue Seven.
Fiction sometimes comes from a single moment in time that sticks with us, is this the case when you sit down to write? Or do you plan each step? Is it formulaic for you?
Hi, and thank you for publishing my piece! To answer your question, my story ideas usually do come from a moment in time that sticks with me. It can be an image or a situation that seems interesting. I rarely plan. I’ll type a few words and the story usually grows from there. I don’t have any formula beyond an internal sense of timing that tells me when the story should end. Hopefully that keeps working.
During the editing process, do you find it difficult to adhere to a word limit? And if you do, how do you manage to keep it within the parameters?
For some reason I seem wired for either very short stories or entire novels. Once I get past 2,000 words, it always seems to bloom into a novel whether I like it or not. So long as a literary magazine is fine with shorter pieces, then I can usually make it happen.
What made you think to write a piece such as this?
I was driving past a cemetery and experienced a sudden revulsion at the idea of burial; particularly the monuments people build to themselves in life as they plan for death. I thought “what if?” What if there was an unknown consequence for all the pomp?
When exploring different writing avenues, how do you manage new ideas? How long do you pursue a project like this before you KNOW it is going to work?
Anytime I get an idea for a story or a novel I’ll email it to myself and then sort it into a folder for later. Sometimes the idea is so exciting I’ll jump out of whatever I’m working on and pursue the new thing. Before I sit down to write, I’ll stare at the wall for a bit and let my brain play with the premise. It doesn’t take long for me to know if it will go somewhere once the words hit the page. “Groundskeeper” was unique—I spotted the cemetery just before I got to work and wrote the first draft at my desk that morning.
Do you have any previously published pieces you’re particularly proud of?
I keep a journal of my progress as a writer and post some stories at www.chrispanatier.wordpress.com