Jules Archer is the author of the short story collection Little Feasts. It's a fantastic read filled with strange feminist stories from female perspectives. Editor Jessica Purgett asked her some questions about this great collection. If you'd like to read an in-depth review of Little Feasts, click here!
Q. Little Feasts is your most recent collection of short stories, but you also published another collection called All the Ghosts We've Always Had. What is it that draws you to short stories? Have you or will you write longer work?
A. I think I'm drawn to short stories for a variety of reasons. First, I don't agonize over them like I do with novels. I write a flash, let it sit for a few days, edit, and then call it done. Second, I love the immediacy of them, the instant gratification I get from writing to publication. Third, and this is the best one, I know I’m good at writing them— especially compared to a novel, which I tend to over think. So yes, in answer to your second question, I have written several novels, but just haven’t cracked them yet.
Q. Some pieces are very short. "Happiness, Lies, & Reno Rush" is only a paragraph long but it sticks with you long after you've finished reading it. "How to Love a Monster with Average Sized Hands" is also short but extremely impactful. Do these stories come to you that concisely? Did they start out as longer pieces that you've honed down?
A. Thanks! I’m glad you like those pieces. They’re some of my favorites. Yes, most of my flash pieces, especially the prose poem or prose paragraph run-on format come in long bursts that I just get out in one moment. It’s super rare that a short piece starts out long and gets honed down. Usually, it’s the opposite way in my writing – a flash piece needs to be longer to make it a stronger story.
Q. Why did you choose to name the collection Little Feasts? Also, what does the heart on the cover represent? Why does it have tentacles coming out of it?
A. Hmm. Honestly, it was a name that just came to me. I always liked it. I thought Little Feasts represented the briefness of each story in the collection, as well as the weird and the macabre. Everyone has a heart right? But also everyone has a weird side, a dark side, a kinky side. To me, that’s what the heart on the cover represents. Q. All of the stories in Little Feasts were previously published by literary magazines. Do you have any advice to authors who want to be published in lit mags?
A. You can do it! But seriously, keep trying, everything is subjective, BUT do take advice when it’s given (if you believe in it), and most importantly, never give up. It’ll come to you. Just put in the work. Q. Can you explain the process of taking the stories and forming them into a collection that would become Little Feasts? How did you choose which stories to use? How did you go about finding and submitting the collection to Thirty West Publishing House?
A. I always wanted a collection of weird, creepy stories, so this definitely came into play when selecting pieces. From there, it became clear I wanted all strong, female voices. No men allowed, so that helped me choose as well. Then, there were some stories from the past that I didn’t think were super strong or worked with the voice so those got booted, and got the collection to where it is today! As for Thirty West, they actually published my chapbook All the Ghosts We’ve Always Had, and when they came to me asking if we could work together on a collection, of course, I said yes. They’re great. Everyone should love them. Q. Most of Little Feasts' stories depict females who are strong and independent. Most of the stories also have a feminist theme to them. However, in "Hard to Carry and Fit in a Trunk" the main character wishes a man would kidnap her and commit acts of violence against her. Why did you choose to include this story in a collection of more feminist tales?
A. I think the act of a woman choosing her kidnapping, wanting it to happen is pretty feminist. Maybe that’s not the right term, but she’s in charge of her fantasy and making it real. To me that’s independence — even if it’s twisted and sick. One of the main themes in the collection is women with fetishes or playing to fetishes, and that’s why I included this story. Q. Which story in Little Feasts was the most challenging to write and why?
A. I’d say “Garbage Girl” was probably the hardest to write. It was because of the ending. It took me a few tries to get it right. I had to go against my dark, morbid grain to give my main character, Lucy, a happy ending. I think it’s one of the only stories with a more upbeat-than-usual finale. Q. Who are your favorite authors? Who inspires you?
A. Some fave flash fiction authors are: Kathy Fish, Cathy Ulrich, Tommy Dean, Sara Lippmann. My one true loves are: novels are always S.E. Hinton and Ronlyn Domingue. Q. What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
A. You mean, other than not wearing pants? Ha. I think my favorite thing about being a writer is that it is my true passion. At the end of the day, yes, I love putting my work out there and having others read it, but I love writing for myself the most. I love creating worlds, stories, characters and losing myself in them. And looking at it and saying, wow, I did that. I made something and it is mine. That's really cool.