Kevin Wilson, "Hunger Strike"

Welcome to December. To kick off the 2016 Short Story Advent Calendar, here's a story of love, loyalty, and Rice Krispies, from the author of The Family Fang.

How would you describe your story?

KEVIN WILSON: It's a university story. I find that there are a lot of stories about high school, and there are stories about life after college, but I don't see as many stories set during those four years when kids are away from their parents but not yet fully an adult. It's a strange sensation, or at least it was for me. So this is kind of what college was like for me.

When did you write it, and how did the process compare to your other work?

KW: I wrote it around 2009, when enough time had passed since my own experience in college, and the story came fairly quickly. But that's true of a lot of my stories. I write really fast and then the story either works or it doesn't. This one seemed to assert itself pretty emphatically, and I messed around with it afterwards until it was close to how I imagined it.

What kind of research went into the story?

KW: None. I thought about what college had been like for me. That was it. I try to do as little research as possible to write a story. I love research, but I find that it's a kind of rabbit hole that I never come back from. And very little of it usually turns up in the story. I'm sure this is purely my own laziness, but I try to tell myself that it works for me.

What, to you, makes the short story a special form? What can it do that other kinds of writing (novels, poems) can't?

KW: I will always love short stories, and I think so much of it is the kind of magic trick that stories feel like, how so much emotional resonance can be derived from a relatively quick narrative. They feel like incantations. I also think that a short story has a way of traveling for me, the way I don't feel bad about passing a short story to a friend because it won't take up a month of their life. I'm constantly trading short stories with friends and students, and I don't get that same sensation from novels.

Where can people go to learn more about you and your writing?

KW: I am not great on social media, but I have a website: Kevin Wilson author website

What's on your Christmas list this year?

KW: Books. Lots of story collections and comic books. I already pre-ordered a gift for myself, Whatever Happened to Interracial Love: Stories by Kathleen Collins, which comes out in December, so I know I'll have one awesome book to read during the holidays.

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What did you think of today's story? Use the hashtag #ssac2016 on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to check in with your fellow advent calendarians.

Michael Hingston