Carleigh Baker, "Last Woman"


It's December 17. Carleigh Baker, author of Bad Endings, never met a cheat code she didn't like.

How would you describe your story?

CARLEIGH BAKER: This story is about the solitude spectrum. Many writers have a romantic vision of getting away from it all to get some work done in peace and quiet. This is a great idea. However, too much solitude can make you a little squirrely. I've been there, in a remote cabin on a Gulf Island with no phone service and intermittent internet, and I wrote this piece about it. In fact, it's more memoir than fiction. 

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

CB: I wrote it last year for an MFA class. As I said, it's more memoir than fiction, and it hardly presents me at my best, so I felt a little vulnerable. I normally hide my vulnerability with irreverence in my writing, but my classmates helped me workshop a little of that out of the piece. Learning to be totally open on the page is a bit of a process. 

What kind of research went into this story?

CB: Dude, I lived it! 

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

CB: Short stories are the best. They're like exploded poems. Plenty of room to dig into a satisfying narrative, but constrained enough to let you spend a lot of time on the language. Short stories give a more intense reading experience than novels, and the option to play around with more experimental forms. I appreciate this both as a writer and a reader of short stories. 

Where should people go to learn more about you and your work?

CB: They can check out my website,, and follow me on Twitter: @carleighbaker.

What's the best gift you've ever been given?

CB: Divorce papers. On my birthday. That's probably all I should say about that. Maybe I'll write a story about it someday. 

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What did you think of today's story? Use the hashtag #ssac2017 on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to check in with your fellow advent calendarians.

Michael Hingston