In Seven Questions, we interview writers, editors, designers, and others in publishing. Today Daniel Orozco gives us the inside scoop. His story “Only Connect” first appeared in Ecotone’s evolution-themed issue and is now also in Astoria to Zion: Twenty-Six Stories of Risk and Abandon from Ecotone’s First Decade.
Where did the idea for “Only Connect” in Astoria to Zion come from?
I went to a wedding in Astoria where I knew none of the other guests. Not a single one. I was mingling with strangers, feeling antsy and awkward. So I eventually slipped away and holed up in my motel room, with a view of the Columbia River, and the mist rising off it and all around the Astoria Bridge. I got glum, and inspired—a darn good combination, as it turns out.
What emerging author or first book are you most excited about?
I read a story last year by Manuel Gonzales, “The Miniature Wife,” and it was really good—fabulist, darkly comic, completely and delightfully engaging—and it is now the title story of his recently published collection. I’m pretty excited about getting my hands on that.
If you could spend a year writing anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Flaubert said: “Be regular and orderly in your life, like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” And so, a year just writing, anywhere in the world? Right here in my apartment, adventure-less and undistracted, in my little study with the view of the brick wall across the alley.
Name a book you bought for its cover.
Many years ago, before I imagined being a writer, I bought a Bantam Classic edition of Moby-Dick. It cost $1.95, and it had on its cover the spookiest image of the ocean I’d ever seen: greenish-black water churning in the foreground, against a grayish-green haze of blank sky. I had no intention whatsoever of reading Moby-Dick. I was just struck by that cover, that slice of oceanic vastness. It really creeped me out. (I’ve since read it, and I still have this very copy, with a bookmark in it from the bookstore I bought it from.)
Had you settled on the interlocking structure for “Only Connect” before you began writing?
Yes. I knew at the outset that I wanted to write a story wherein the drama, and its point-of-view, passed from one protagonist to another, then another, like the baton in a relay race.
Which character did you start with?
I started with Bennett, and wrote his episode first, though I started thinking about the story via Costas and the boy in Astoria. But I couldn’t start writing what happens to them in Astoria until after I figured out what happens to them in Seattle. So I came up with Bennett and wrote him first.
Typing or longhand? typing
Silence or music? Used to be music; silence these days.
Morning or night? morning
E-reader or print? print
Vowel or consonant? consonant
Train or plane? train
Bookmark or dog-ear? Bookmark! We are not barbarians!
Cake or pie? pie
Mountains or sea? Desert, but if I have to pick one of yours: mountains, in the distance.
Dog or cat? Dog, of course.
Daniel Orozco is the author of Orientation and Other Stories. His stories have appeared in Harper’s, McSweeney’s, Zoetrope: All Story, and Ecotone. He’s currently at work on his second novel and lives in Moscow, Idaho, where he teaches creative writing at the University of Idaho.