Issue #200: A Party for the Colonel
by F.T. Kola

200-coverWhen Maribeth and I started One Story, our goal was to make it to 100 issues. Then in 2007 we did, publishing “Beanball” by the award-winning author Ron Carlson. After we sent his story to the printer, Maribeth and I caught our breath and looked at each other. We made it! Now what? Do we close the magazine? We thought of our loyal subscribers, our talented authors, supporters, and wonderful staff. All of these people had become dear friends, and together had formed not only a community, but a family of readers and writers. We needed to keep going, Maribeth and I decided. So we set a new goal: 200 issues.

Since then, One Story has become a non-profit organization. We’ve also expanded our family by creating a summer workshop, a membership program, and hosting our annual Literary Debutante Ball, so that our readers and writers can interact in person as well as on the page. With our new online classes, One Story has spread even further, reaching across the country and across the globe—Alaska to Africa, California to China, North Dakota to the North Pole. We’ve also launched a sister magazine, One Teen Story, to encourage and foster teenage readers and writers, so that our love of fiction and the short story can be passed to the next generation.

And now here we are at issue #200.

One of the rules Maribeth and I made when we started One Story was that we would only publish an author once. We wanted our magazine’s pages to be open to everyone, to bring a new voice to our readers with every issue, and ensure that One Story was always on the forefront of the literary scene, featuring the best established and emerging authors, side by side. Our past two stories highlight this mission: Issue #199, “And Then Someone Came From So Very Far Away” was written by the legendary Ann Beattie, winner of the PEN/Malamud and the Rea Award for the Short Story, while our new issue #200 is by a debut author, F.T. Kola. “A Party for the Colonel” is her first published story.

Set in South Africa in the 1970s, “A Party for the Colonel” explores Apartheid during a time of violent upheaval, with each generation seeking their own path to change. The Indian family at the center of this tale exists in a world that bars them from “Whites Only” hotels, restaurants and cinemas, but also puts them in a different class from their Black and Coloured (mixed race) African neighbors in Johannesburg. While the Colonel tries to raise the family’s status through acquiring wealth, his son joins the ANC and is held as a political prisoner. Caught between these two is the Colonel’s wife, and it is through her sorrow and fear for her child that F.T. Kola weaves this finely wrought story of hope and racial injustice.

Born in South Africa, F.T. Kola brings a unique perspective to this world-wide problem, while tugging at the reader’s heart with her remarkable prose. I hope you will read her insightful Q&A about how she wrote this story, and help me congratulate her on being One Story’s 200th issue.

Here’s to the next 100!


Issue #198: An Inventory
by Joan Wickersham

198.coverWhenever I’m feeling overwhelmed by life I make a list. Instantly I become calmer, as if by scratching out my ideas, tasks and responsibilities on paper, I’ve won half the battle. Our new issue, Joan’s Wickersham’s “An Inventory,” explores this same inclination for organization. In this charming story, a character (“you”) accounts for all of her romantic partners (even if that romance was one-sided), exploring the forces of attraction as well as the tender reaches of her own heart. Compiled chronologically, these brief anecdotes—with footnotes from the future!—become a marvelous meditation on love, faith and endurance. I was first introduced to Joan Wickersham while reading Best American Short Stories. Years later, working as a bookseller, I was thrilled to discover her wonderful novel The Paper Anniversary (and hand-sold many copies). Since then, I’ve kept track of her career and continued to admire her skillful carvings of emotional truth. Connections like this between a reader and a writer, that cover many years and many books, are why I got into the business of publishing, so it brings me particular joy to present “An Inventory” in our pagesI hope that all of you—our dear readers, writers, supporters and fans—will stop by our website to read Joan’s Q&A, and welcome her into the One Story family.

Issue #196: Meteorologist Dave Santana by Diane Cook

196-coverLet’s talk about sex, baby. Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be.Salt-N-Pepa

If you grew up in the 90s, this song was probably played at your prom. Unless it was banned, that is—some parents and teachers found it too provocative (hard to believe given today’s celebrity sex tapes, nude selfies and graphic online porn). But at the time “Let’s Talk About Sex” was a fresh and candid take of women owning their libidos; enjoying sex while being smart about it. Salt-N-Pepa’s catchy chorus celebrated the joy of the physical, but each verse took things to a more serious level—discussing STDs and how sex can be incredible but also leave people feeling empty. With this song and others (like “Push It” and “Shoop”) Salt-N-Pepa made it OK for girls to like sex in an explicit way that hadn’t been done before. Rather than turning themselves into sex objects—they turned the tables and pushed the raw power of their sexiness out into the world. Our new story, “Meteorologist Dave Santana” by Diane Cook, takes this idea and runs with it, providing a lot of crazy, hot fun in the sack (NSFW, people)! But sex isn’t the only thing going on with Janet, Diane Cook’s fearless and headstrong heroine. Our story begins with a storm and Janet’s newfound obsession with the weather. Or, more specifically—the weather man, Meteorologist Dave Santana. Her focused and determined pursuit of Dave drives the narrative of this fascinating story, turning a crush into a fling and then a life-changing experience. Like all obsessions, the true story here lies not with the object of Janet’s affections, but why she was drawn to him in the first place—and then—why she can not let the idea of him go. Read our Q&A with Diane Cook to hear the inspiration behind “Meteorologist Dave Santana,” and how this story fits into her highly anticipated collection, Man V. Nature. Then dig through your old Salt-N-Pepa cassette tapes and bust out your best reverse running man. In the immortal words of “Push It”: This dance ain’t for everybody—only the sexy people!

Issue #195: Cool City
by Chuck Augello

195.coverHurricane Sandy happened almost two years ago, but its effects are still felt across New York City. I’ll never forget the way giant trees were thrown about like tinker toys, and the dread my neighbors and I felt as the Gowanus Canal broke its banks and started flooding sewage into the streets. As sections of the city were destroyed, and others left without power for days and even weeks, from Staten Island to Red Hook we were all shaken. Sandy was a reminder of how mother nature can bring civilization to its knees. That kind of chaos and randomness can be a frightening thing, so when Chuck Augello’s “Cool City,” appeared in our slush pile, I found myself both surprised and charmed by the way Augello took those same feelings of fear and uncertainty and spun them into a story about connection and love. Set during a terrible, Sandy-like storm, “Cool City” follows two young city-dwellers, each trying to cope with the randomness and terror of life. One uses numbers and OCD-like behaviors to make himself feel safe, the other uses “Fast Love”—a unique self-help program where love is broken down to an impulse decision followed by immediate, binding commitment. Be sure to read Chuck Augello’s Q&A with us about how he came up with the concept for “Fast Love”, as well as his decision to use Rainer Maria Rilke’s poems in “Cool City.”  I was moved and relieved when reading the final pages of this story, just as I was by the outpouring of volunteers and neighbors coming together in the aftermath of Sandy’s destruction. Like these two characters who fall in love during the chaos and wildness of the storm, when the rain finally stopped we found true comfort in each other.

Issue #193: A Very Small Flame by James Winter

193-cover_Page_01The siege of Sarajevo began in April, 1992 and lasted nearly four years, during which the citizens of that war-torn city lived in terror and suffered every possible kind of deprivation. Thousands were starved, raped, killed by snipers or wounded in bomb attacks. Like the mass murders in Srebrenica and death camps like Omarska, the siege of Sarajevo became a symbol of the Bosnian war and dominated the world news cycle. But how did the civilians caught in the crossfire live day to day? How did they continue on when surrounded by so much death? These are just some of the questions that author James Winter takes on in our new issue, “A Very Small Flame.” Written from the point of view of Pasha, a Muslim grocer trying to protect his family, “A Very Small Flame” uses a unique format to tell its story, presenting lists of words and memories to record the facts of history. As a reader I was caught up in the drama of Pasha’s life but also held by his refusal to fall into despair, even when bearing witness to the darkest of atrocities. Read our Q&A with James Winter to find out more about the research that went into “A Very Small Flame,” and how this thriving, cosmopolitan city went from hosting the Olympics in 1984 to being a battlefield just eight years later. It is a history lesson everyone should know, and a story worth telling—how to face such horror with an unflinching eye, and without losing love or faith in humanity.

Write a Short Story with
Hannah Tinti July 6-12!

Write a Short Story with Hannah Tinti

When I first started writing, I didn’t know how to tell a story. I had a lot of ideas, some descriptions, and strings of scenes that didn’t work together. My friends and family would read something I wrote, then hand the pages back saying: I liked it. But I could tell that they were not moved.

It wasn’t until I started studying and working with editors that I began to understand structure—how to bring shape and form to the page and use it to guide a reader through my fiction from start to finish. It was like someone had handed me an X-Ray machine. Suddenly I could see the backbone running through all of my favorite books and stories. So that’s how they did it, I thought. That’s how they made me feel this way.

Learning this technique changed the way I wrote. Now, I’d like to share it with you—while also having some fun (it is summer, after all). So let’s write a short story together! Through videos, power point presentations, online lectures, and discussion on the message board, I’ll lead you sentence by sentence, explaining each step along the way. At the end of the week—you’ll have a story with strong bones, ready to go wherever you want to take it.

Write a Short Story with Hannah Tinti is my first online class, and will take place July 6-12th. Deadline for sign up is July 5th. For complete details, go here.

I hope you’ll join us!

Hannah Tinti

One Story Collected:
Our First Anthology Featuring
the 2014 Literary Debutantes!

OSCollected (456x640)
One Story is VERY EXCITED to announce the publication of One Story Collected: Stories from the 2014 Literary Debutantes. An anthology that features past One Story issues of our 2014 literary debutantes in one extraordinarily cute little book:

Issue #132 “The Quiestest Man” by Molly Antopol
Issue #80 “Picnic After the Flood” by Rachel Cantor
Issue #98 “Fire Season” by Amelia Kahaney
Issue #86 “What Passes Over” by Celeste Ng
Issue #155 “Refund” by David James Poissant
Issue # 96 “The Strings Attached” by James Scott
Issue #119 “Eraser” by Ben Stroud

Haunting, vivid, touching and funny, these seven tales travel across the country and around the world, weaving together first loves and lost loves, guilt and forgiveness, and the different ways we try to relive and escape the past. One Story Collected is available digitally for $4.99, in print for $9.99. Buy your copy today!



One Story Literary Debutante Ball: The Pictures!

There's Got to be a Morning After (640x427)Thanks to everyone who came out to our 2014 Literary Debutante Ball on May 22nd at Roulette in Brooklyn. It was a wonderful night, honoring Mentor of the Year Colum McCann and the first books of our seven Literary Debutantes: Molly Antopol (The UnAmericans); Rachel Cantor (A Highly Unlikely Scenario); Amelia Kahaney (The Brokenhearted); Celeste Ng (Everything I Never Told You); David James Poissant (The Heaven of Animals); James Scott (The Kept) and Ben Stroud (Byzantium). Here’s some pictures of from that wonderful night! You can also read a great play-by-play of the evening over at The Story Prize blog.


Issue #192: Fear Itself
by Katie Coyle

192-coverI’ll never forget the first time I saw Vincent Price’s classic horror film House of Wax on late night TV. In the climactic scene, the young heroine discovers that the museum’s wax figurines are made from real corpses, including her best friend, who has been transformed into Joan of Arc. Trapped between a young Charles Bronson (Igor) and Vincent Price (the museum curator), she beats Vincent Price’s face, which falls apart, revealing a monster hidden behind a wax mask. I was reminded of the movie the first time I picked up our marvelously strange new issue, “Fear Itself” by Katie Coyle. Not only because of the wax museum setting, but because both stories center around identity and false appearances. The teenaged heroines of “Fear Itself”—Kara, Ruthie & Olive—are best friends, but find themselves grating against their assigned categories (the ugly one, the caretaker, the prude). The girls’ internal frustrations bubble to the surface on a class trip to a presidential wax museum, and soon overflow. Jealousy, love, courage and hate all come into play as these three friends search for ways to find new ground, eventually standing together against the forces of darkness (and in this case, also bad boyfriends). Check out our Q&A with Katie Coyle to find out more about the inspiration behind this sharply written, astonishingly bizarre and simply fun short story, then click the video below to see a clip from House of Wax. Despite all of the movie’s campiness and bad-acting, the moment where Vincent Price’s face falls apart still resonates with a creepy magic. What’s really behind the masks our friends and family wear each day? What’s behind our own?

Q&A with our 2014 Mentor of the Year: Colum McCann

columMcCannAt One Story, we believe that being a part of the literary community should include helping others. In that vein, each year at our Literary Debutante Ball we honor one established author with a “Mentor of the Year” award for their extraordinary support of fellow writers. This year, our Mentor of the Year is Colum McCann.

Mentoring is the kind of work that happens behind the scenes, but is vital to keep the literary world alive and kicking. It comes in all forms—from teaching, to blurbs, to recommendation letters, to late-night reads, agent advice, one-on-one conferences, career guidance and inspiration. Behind each book on the shelf is an unseen mentor, giving an author the help they need to make their work better, to keep writing when they are ready to quit, and eventually give them a boost over the publishing wall.

Colum McCann exemplifies this kind of gallant hard work, and we’ll be honoring him, along with our Literary Debutantes, Thursday, May 22nd, 2014 at the One Story Literary Debutante Ball at Roulette in Brooklyn.

In today’s post, Colum kindly took time from his busy schedule to talk with One Story about writing and teaching, the importance of being a mentor, and what he’s looking forward to the most at the big party this Thursday night.

  1. You’ve been a great supporter of emerging writers. But who were your mentors and how did they help you along the way?

I remember getting to meet of one of my heroes, Benedict Kiely, in Dublin when I was about sixteen years old.   He was a  friend of my father’s, and my first mentor.  He wrote me a beautiful note about some pretty awful stories that I had written.  I remember, years later, drinking with him in the pubs of Donnybrook.  He was an incredible raconteur.

And then for years I have had a correspondence with John Berger who sort of took me under his wing at a very early stage.  He once sent me 12 pages of notes about a novel of mine, Dancer.  There were many other mentors and spectacular acts of generosity all down the line.

Also, there were so many great teachers from my early years in Dublin, both at the primary and secondary school level.  All those songs and stories and poems.

Ultimately, however, I’d have to say that it was my father, Sean McCann, who was my primary mentor.

  1. Besides being an active member of various literary organizations such as PEN, and a founder of Narrative 4, which promotes empathy through the exchange of stories, you also teach writing at Hunter College’s MFA program. How does community work and teaching others fit into your literary life? And is it difficult to keep the balance with your own creative work?

Vonnegut says we should be continually jumping off of cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.  That’s how I feel about teaching and being involved with all these non-profits.  It keeps me on the edge.  It propels me forward.  It forces me to learn new things.  And my students keep me current in many ways also.  I see so many things through their eyes.  I don’t really find any tension there between my teaching and my creative work.  I like both immensely.  I think they compliment one another.  It’s just that there aren’t enough hours in the day.  I could do with another eight hours.

  1. You’ve recently published your 8th book, TransAtlantic. But could you share what it was like to publish your first book, Fishing the Sloe-Black River? What was the most surprising thing about becoming a published author for the first time?

I remember I went to London when Fishing the Sloe-Black River came out. I thought it was going to be a big deal.  I wore my torn black overcoat and a ridiculous beret.  I wandered around the publishing house, waiting for them to make a big fuss.  Nobody gave a tupenny bit.  I was distraught.  I stuffed my beret in the coat pocket and walked around, sulking.  But at the end of the day — just when I was about to give up on any pretense of celebration — my editor introduced me to Edna O’Brien who happened to be in the offices that day.  She was amazing.  She invited me to come read with her that very evening in a shop in Hammersmith.  It was my first ever reading.  An incredible experience.  Of course I read too long and didn’t have a clue, really, but it was unforgettable to read with Edna, another one of my heroes, one of the world’s great writers.

  1. Any words of advice for our 7 Debutantes as they start their literary careers?

My favourite quote from Samuel Beckett: “No matter. Try again.  Fail again.  Fail better.”

  1. What are you looking forward to the most about the One Story Literary Debutante Ball on May 22nd?

It’s a real honour to be seen as a mentor, but mostly I’m looking forward to hanging out with some of my students, and meeting the debutantes.