Do you have a favorite among your books?
—Jane Schraceo, Decatur, Texas
I’ve sometimes wondered that myself. In the most general sense, I think it’s analagous to how a parent feels about a child. You don’t love one more than another; instead you love them in different ways. The thing about my fiction is that, whether I’m working on a short story or a novella or a novel, I always feel I’m creating the entire world that its characters inhabit. That world becomes mine as well. In fact, when I’m writing something, I may well spend more time thinking about that imagined world than the real one. The characters become very vivid to me, and I go over their conversations again in my mind as I might revisit a conversation I had with you or with someone else.
Those worlds never really leave me, which may explain something like my going back to the germ of Will Wheelock’s story, which I’d started years ago, and expanding on parts of his story and then adding his daughter’s story to write Time Stamp. And sometimes I’m reminded of one of these fictional worlds when a scrap of description pops into my mind. Little cat feet. A flying whisper like Tina’s kitten. That takes me right in to The Second Magician’s Tale. For whatever reason, if I return to any of my stories or novels, I feel myself entering its particular world again and find a renewed interest in its characters. Perhaps the key is that I’ve only written the stories I want to write. They always speak to me on some level.
I’m going to admit this, though. When I think of my short stories, I think more often of the stories that have had a higher profile and so have increased my confidence as a writer. And when it comes to readers, I fully expect they may favor one book over another because of their own interests or even because of their feeling that one book is more successful than another. It’s rare that we like even our favorite writers’ works equally. I think that’s fine.