Congratulations to the MFA Program’s Joshua Sheridan for his 3rd place award in the 18th-Annual Zoetrope: All-Story Short Fiction Contest. His story “The Narrators” was one of over two thousand entries in the contest, and was selected by author Ben Fountain.
The following are Josh’s thoughts on submitting to the contest, writing the piece, and the impact his story has on its readers.
“The biggest reasons I chose to send in ‘The Narrators’ were that it was the freshest thing I felt like I had completed, and that I knew Ben Fountain was All-Story’s guest judge this year. I’m a huge fan of his work (check out Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, if you haven’t already), and I felt like ‘The Narrators’ had a lot of the snappy, darkly humorous dialogue that Fountain seems to enjoy in his own work. Also, neither of them have a lot of flowery writing or a ton of digressive background information, so I felt like this particular story would match Ben Fountain’s preferences well.
I don’t really know what inspired ‘The Narrators,’ honestly. Some weird amalgam of a bunch of dysfunctional stuff in my past, no doubt. I’m not super big on straight-up autobiography, though, so there wasn’t really a direct line from me to… you know, it.
If ‘The Narrators’ works for people, it’s probably because they’re fans of cynicism and sarcasm. But also, if you’ve ever read any Jonathon Tropper, you know you come away with this sort-of split personality: am I sad right now, or giddy? I was going for that, I think. I wanted people to say, ‘I don’t really know how I feel about this.’ That seems like a good way to get people talking.”