Today on the blog I am looking at short stories and am delighted to be joined by Gerard Bianco, to talk about his new collection, A Sharp Bend in the Road.
Your new book, “A Sharp Bend in the Road,” is a collection of seventeen short stories. What’s been the reaction to the book so far?
Since the book is out only about a week it’s a little early to get a solid grip on public reaction, however, what I can say, at this point, is that those people who have more than a fundamental understanding of good writing have given the book a 5-star rating. I’m speaking about writing teachers, editors, reviewers, and fellow authors who’ve read the book before publication.
What makes your story collection different from those of other writers?
There are a few reasons my collection of stories is unique. First, the stories are built upon solid, singular concepts that end with either a twist or an ironic conclusion. (Hence the title: A Sharp Bend in the Road.) There are stories that are serious in nature and those that are absurdly dark and humorous. Sprinkled throughout the collection are occasional touches of the paranormal and magic realism, which adds sparkle. I’ve even thrown in a Maine ghost town story to further add variety. That’s part of the fun about this collection, the reader never knows what the next story will bring. It’s a total surprise. Even the length of the stories vary considerably. Some stories are short, while others are an average length for short stories. The collection’s finale is a novella.
What’s interesting too, is that apart from the differences in length and theme, no two stories in this collection sound alike. All too often, author’s story collections sound repetitive. You pick up a story collection, and after reading two or three stories, you want to put the book down because all the stories sound the same, it’s only the names and settings that change. With “A Sharp Bend in the Road,” plot, theme, voice and rhythm change dramatically with every story so that each time the reader picks up the book, the stories are fresh and exciting.
The characters throughout your stories are very lifelike. What are the elements you’ve added to give this impression?
Jane, I’m passionate about characterization. It’s my belief that every great literary work grows from its character’s necessities. I strive hard to make my characters three-dimensional. One way an author can do this is by identifying and satisfying the needs of the characters. You’re probably asking yourself, “What is this guy talking about?”
Characters are like children. They will do all they can to take over the plot, if the author lets them. A writer with little experience allows characters to steer the ship, going hither and thither.
An experienced writer, like a good parent, holds the reins and directs his characters toward the author’s final goal. But the author must take time to get to know his characters, and display compassion for his character’s needs, fulfilling them when appropriate, without losing control of the course he’s set for the completion of the story.
It’s the great writer who has sympathy and understanding for the human condition of his characters. This understanding, in turn, will create three-dimensional characters, which will arouse an emotional response in the reader – the premier goal of all writing.
Interesting stuff! Gerard will be joining us again next week to talk about his influences for some of the settings for his stories. In the meantime, here’s a little more about him.
Gerard Bianco holds an MFA in Writing from Albertus Magnus College. He’s an author, an artist/illustrator, a jewelry designer, and a teacher of creative writing. His works include:
The Deal Master (2006) A mystery/thriller novel. Won the Editor’s Choice Award and the Publisher’s Choice Award.
Discipline: A Play (2012) A love story and a laugh-out-loud comedy that uses wit to depict human frailty. It won the Editor’s Choice Award, 2012 and was a Finalist in the 2013 Indie Excellence Book Awards.
His short stories have appeared in various literary journals. His lessons, exercises and advice on the art and craft of creative fiction have appeared on the web and in the new book, Now Write! Mysteries: Mystery Fiction Exercises From Today’s Best Writers and Teachers. (Tarcher, 2011; Edited by Sherry Ellis and Laurie Lamson.)
His latest book, “A SHARP BEND IN THE ROAD: 17 INTRIGUING STORIES,” published January, 2015.
Gerard divides his time between Portland, Maine and Boston.