|Given that The Very Best of Gene Wolfe just won the WFA, could you talk a bit about a few of your short stories - ones you are particularly fond of, or proud of - and what makes them so for you? |
Gene Wolfe: The problem there is – I’m fond of a whole lot of them!
“Beach Hill” is a tiny little story, but I really like it, about a man who goes to a convention (call it, a “gathering”) of fakes.
Gene Wolfe: …People who pretend to be what they are not. A man who pretends to be a wild animal trainer. A woman who pretends to be a countess. The protagonist is posing as a spy – a James Bond – but he’s actually a short order cook.
Another one that my agent insisted on being put into the collection was called “A Cabin on the Coast.” I wasn’t going to include it – I had a word limit, but she said, “You gotta put in ‘Cabin.’”
Wolfe covPete Crowther in England (with P S Publishing) wanted to put in “Christmas Inn,” so he called the British edition The Very Best of Gene Wolfe, rather than the American edition, which is The Best of Gene Wolfe.
What happened with “Christmas Inn” was that Pete had promised his Post Scripts subscribers that he would send them a Christmas story gratis in the mail.
As Christmas drew near, the author who’d originally agreed to write this ten thousand word story was at thirty thousand words. He was still banging ahead, writing more, and would not be finished in time. So Pete asked if I could quickly write a ten thousand word story for him.
In my short story, “The Tree is My Hat,” the ex-wife who shows up on the tropical island is named Mary Christmas. I never say that – you find out by deduction – but I asked myself, what’s her family like? Who is her father, Julius Christmas, and what’s going on back at home?
Well, back at home, they check in four time-travelers to the Christmas Inn. Two men, two women. The story goes on from there.