Short-story writer Ben Loory begins at the beginning and ends at the end, with no preconceived notion of what’s in between. He said he is fully and happily in the moment when he writes. “I just write beginning to end, with no idea how it’s going to turn out,” he noted. “It’s very organic, somewhat like automatic writing. My deal with myself is not to plan what I write.”
He appears at Eduardo Santiago’s Idyllwild Author Series on June 22, to discuss his short story collection, “Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day” (Penguin, 2011).
Loory describes his collection as “a mix between ‘Aesop’s Fables’ and ‘The Twilight Zone’” – spare prose, sometimes dark with nightmarish overtones, with meter as an organizational tool that he said gives the stories a sense of simple inevitability. As to using meter as a tool, Loory said that, too, was not preconceived. “It’s just something that developed over time,” he recalled. “I’d notice that the final paragraph [of a story] would be a four-line stanza with three or four beats to a line. It then became something I started to do intentionally as part of my organizational structure.”
Loory crafts his stories, some of which are quite short and can be read on his website www.benloory.com, to be character-driven, simple and easy to remember. As to how his stories flow onto the page when he writes, he said it is by pairing the characters with a particular world or environment. “It’s half character and half the world, sort of a call and response structure,” he said.
Originally from New Jersey, Loory came to Los Angeles to study film at the American Film Institute, to become a director. “I realized after a while that directing was not for me; getting up early in the morning and telling a lot of people what they had to do.” He fell into screenwriting, by chance and also through serendipity, wrote for a while with a partner, and had a number of things optioned but nothing produced.
His current “in the moment” approach to short-story writing seems a reflection of the serendipitous nature of how he lives his life — allowing the present to unfold and reveal choices. “My problem has always been getting in my own way, thinking too much,” he said. “Now I just let [the writing] evolve. I don’t plan it out. It’s a little bit scary but the fear also provides the dramatic tension.”
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews as, “One of a kind: a thoroughly entertaining antidote to rigid thinking and excessive seriousness,” and Elle Magazine as “… loopy yet lovely …,” “Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day” may prove a delightful journey for any reader who loves mystery, magic and imagination.
So it is fitting and appropriate that Loory began his journey to writing this kind of fiction, with these fairy-tale colors and shadows, by taking a course in writing short fiction at the Mystery and Imagination Bookstore in Glendale.
Asked what else informs and fuels his writing process, Loory said, “I drink a lot of tea.”
Eduardo Santiago interviews Loory at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 22 on the deck of Cafe Aroma. There is no charge for the series. Santiago advised attendees to arrive early because the series, now in its fourth iteration, has grown very popular and seating is limited.