Katie Coyle, "Dream Girl"

It's December 9. Katie Coyle, author of the Vivian Apple series, tried to sleep it off, but that only made things worse.

How would you describe your story?

KATIE COYLE: My story is kind of like a Russian nesting doll containing several different varieties of manipulative teens.

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

KC: I wrote “Dream Girl” in my second year of graduate school using the same basic formulation with which I write any story—a premise comes to mind, and following it to its conclusion eventually reveals a deeper emotional thread. I think of it kind of like I’m telling myself a joke: “What happened when the immature teen trapped his ex-girlfriend inside his own brain?” The story itself is the punchline. I remember really enjoying writing Winston’s dreams. I know a lot of people don’t enjoy hearing about dreams in real life or fiction; I am not one of those people.

What kind of research went into this story?

KC: None.

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

KC: My favorite short stories are the ones that resemble dreams—small, contained worlds in which you find yourself without context, where the moment you learn the rules you’ve reached the final sentence. Novels are, to me, about immersion, where short stories are like having your head dunked in very cold water for a second and feeling invigorated when you come up for air.

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

KC: katiecoyle.com, or @krcoyle on Twitter.

What's on your Christmas list this year?

KC: I write this shortly after the United States election, so my answer should be obvious: a radical feminist moon colony.

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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