Book Born would like to welcome Austin L. Wiggins today. Thanks so much for joining us! Can you tell us a little something about your short story collection, Bonds that Bind?
Thanks for having me! My short story collection Bonds That Bind is part a cumulation of my best work from the last year and a half and part forecast of my future works. The collection is drama-based and never deviates from human/character-driven story.
What is your favorite story in the collection? Why?
The “fan favorite” so far is “The Outsider.” I can certainly see why. I wrote it from a place of utmost honesty and from experience of my life. My personal favorite however, is “Of Flowers”. There’s something mysterious and poetic to it. I didn’t really plan the ending the way it turned out. It was something else entirely. Then a beta-reader harped on theme and suddenly knew how to morph it into something oddly beautiful.
What do you think makes your stories different from the others out there?
I’ve touched on it a bit earlier, but the way my stories are different is because of character-driven narrative. Stories on the market now have convoluted plots but their characters are written so flatly that any character from any book could take the main character’s place and it would remain the same. My stories, the work of my peers, and the work I subscribe to focus on having a character-centric narrative where the main character is the reason plot gets pushed forward. It’s an old school of storytelling. One I learned to love from reading classics.
What do you think are the advantages of a short story over a longer work?
There is of course, the time aspect. I can spend a month or two working on a short story where a novel or similar long work would take me months to years to work out. Because of that time factor I’m also able to put out more works which gives me more practice for finishing a complete narrative.
As a primarily short story author, you have the ability to really jump around the genres. What do you consider your primary genre? Your secondary?
As much as I’d like to humble-brag that I’ve jumped around genres, I haven’t. I’ve stuck mostly to general fiction. It’s my biggest regret coming off such a big first year of writing. I didn’t do anything to diversify my writing. One of my aims for this coming year however, is to delve into sci-fi, dystopian, fantasy, and a few others (maybe even a horror story?) It’ll will help readers see me as a diverse writer. Given time I think I can handle those genres well but we’ll see where the next year takes me.
You also run a magazine called Beautiful Losers. Could you tell us what inspired you to start it?
It started by me wanting to start a magazine a magazine for millennials. There would have been news, politics, tech, science, and literature all written by millennials for millennials. It would have help bring out interesting and controversial voices from people in my age range. I was really excited about it. I just didn’t have the time or resources to create a product. Around the same time I met a writer named Dario Cannizzaro. He wanted to do a guest post for my blog. It was a creative non-fiction piece that I really enjoyed. So I offered to work with him again sometime if we thought of a project. One day I mentioned doing a literature magazine and we both ran with it. Dario got Alfonso Coasuonno, another writer, in on it a bit later. Together we formed a magazine that supports artists. It’s holistically for the improvement of literature.
What was the inspiration for the title?
One part Leonard Cohen and his book, one part reality. There are people who aren’t ever given the time of day, who spend their lives at the sideline and watch as other people’s stories unfold. They are the graceful circus mutants that nobody sees. I’ve identified as one and I’m sure my coworkers share the same sentiment.
The ‘About’ page mentions a ‘literary revolution’. Can you tell us more about that?
This literary revolution is a move away from books with cheap gimmicks. A deliberate withdrawal from a literary culture that demands a sequel with the exact premise as the last books. We say revolution but we’re more traditionalists who know that books should be treated as art. We’re not knocking any of anyone’s favorite books, we just want people to see that literature can be much more than what we’re currently making it out to be.
What is the biggest challenge with running a magazine?
Aside from all of it? Keeping up with submissions is the hardest part. Having to decide what piece is “worth” being in the magazine and what’s not is really hard. Not in terms of quality but in terms of the rejection. I’m a many-times-over rejected writer. I hardly have an accepted piece under my belt, actually. So I’m sympathetic to the work of those I have to reject. It makes things a bit difficult.
If you could sum up the tone of your blog, Writings by Ender, in a few sentences, what would you say?
My blog Writing By Ender is a deep exploration into the life of a writer. In terms of tone I’d say serious and critical of whatever topic is at hand. I’ve plans in the works to lighten up the tone a bit in the future, but for now this is where I am as a writer and I think the blog reflects that well.
What are you planning to do next?
I’ve got more short stories in production. I’m considering making another series of short stories, this time with about 10 or 12, where their stories are in various genres. It’d be my experiment to see what I genres I can work in but I think it will also be worth reading. I also plan to start a novel sometime in the beginning of next year. It too will be told in a series of closely related short stories. I’m hoping to take my medium of short stories and bring them to the forefront of people’s attention.
You can find and follow Austin’s work here: