I'm taking part in the CLP organized blog tour for Rachael O'Bryan's debut novel Unlocked. I reviewed the "novel in stories" last week (the review is here if you missed it) and I was interested to find out what made O'Bryan choose to write the novel as she did. She was kind enough to write a guest post that tells us all about it! Thank you to Rachael for stopping by Books Etc.!
My Decision to Write Short Stories
By Rachael O’Bryan
I decided to write Unlocked in a series of stories as opposed to a conventional novel because I felt that each relationship Rebecca cultivated deserved its own attention. I felt there would be too many main characters in a conventional novel.
Also, I think the stories worked for me because for my personal relationships with each guy that the stories are based on there was a very different breaking point for each relationship. Those breaking points became the stories’ present time and then flashbacks were used throughout the story to bring in the past events. I wasn’t sure what the present time would have been had it been written like a conventional novel. I suppose that it could have worked in a setting as if it was Rebecca’s wedding day and she reflected on all her past dealings with guys in her life, but that route wasn’t really what I wanted to go for. The break points – the I’ve had enough, or maybe I need to reconsider, or maybe I missed my chance – those moments were too important to get lost.
I really felt like each relationship needed to stand on its own, but at the same time I wanted to make them connected. Some people reappear in other stories and I wanted people to gather that there was some connecting theme there. In order to make the connections clear I wrote a poem tying the stories together and took the name of the poem as the title of my book. This idea was a suggestion thrown out in a short story writing class I took. As soon as I heard it I loved it and immediately went to work on my poem when I went home.
And finally I love reading short stories, so I think they inspired me. Olive Kitteridge was definitely an inspiration. That book fell into my hands when I joined my first book club and I loved the idea of developing a character through showing different glimpses into that person’s life. I wanted to develop Rebecca’s heartbreak, her insecurities, and her overcoming them through different interactions. Whether it be the silence from Patrick on the phone or the painting of the wall to rid the feel of Rasheed in her apartment, each interaction helped shape a part of Rebecca.
As for my other short story inspirations I can’t leave out one of my favorite authors – Jhumpa Lahiri. I still can visualize a scene from one of her short stories to this day. If my craft could ever be one fourth as a good as her’s I will be amazed with myself. I think people overlook the power of a short story and she really reinforces how amazing they can be. When I was writing I got caught up in times on the number of pages. Sometimes I would think the book isn’t going to be long enough, but when I finished I knew that concern was unnecessary. If I said all I said in those pages and made my point and conveyed what I wanted to do, the number of pages the words filled didn’t matter. The words are what mattered. To me my book of stories was more about an outpouring of emotion and the stories conveyed that and at the end of the day I’m happy with it. I hope that someone can read my stories and find the power in them.
Rachael O’Bryan keeps a personal blog at rachaelsnewyork.blogspot.com. Her book Unlocked is available on Amazon.com, Lulu.com, BN.com (for the nook), and in the iBook store. Her online magazine, Rachael, launches June 1st and you can subscribe at rachaelmagazine.com starting then.