Deb Olin Unferth, "Pet"

It's December 5. Deb Olin Unferth, author of Vacation and Revolution, buys the fancy food but still isn't convinced the pet knows the difference.

How would you describe your story?

DEB OLIN UNFERTH: It’s sort of an underdog story, about failing in so many ways that the law of averages says you've got to have a win.

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

DOU: Most of my work takes years. It sits around in drafts that I pull out and work on for a few days and put back for another six months. This one I wrote very quickly, in maybe two or three drafts.

What kind of research went into this story?

DOU: I didn’t do research exactly, but the two turtles featured in the story were based on two turtles that I took from my aunt's basement and kept in my small Chicago apartment. A few years later my boyfriend (at the time) and I drove to a turtle pond in southern Indiana and set them free. The next day we rented a canoe and went out hoping to spot them among the hundreds of turtles lined up on the logs.

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

DOU: A good short story places an entire world in your mind in a matter of minutes. 

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

DOU: I have a story collection, Wait Till You See Me Dance, coming out in March 2017. And I have a graphic novel, I Parrot, co-written with Elizabeth Haidle, coming out in November 2017. 

What's on your Christmas list this year?

DOU: My Christmas list is bare. It’s nonexistent, an anti-list. I don't want anything. I'd rather someone read me story. I'd rather someone make me big promises and have every intention of keeping them.

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Michael Hingston