Interview with Richard R Becker, Author of Ten Threads

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What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Ten Threads?

Ten Threads is a brisk 10-story companion to my best-selling and award-winning debut of short stories, 50 States. While they stand on their own, most of the stories in Ten Threads also build upon the original collection.

It was something I wanted to work on right away, giving readers a glimpse into how each of these stories will evolve and, in some cases, intersect. Of these ten stories, I’ll call out two. North Forty is the first story that explicitly brings two characters from different stories in 50 States together. Third Wheel is very likely the first chapter of my first novel (although there are other contenders). Life is the inspiration for all of it.

If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of Ten Threads, what would they be?

I was asked this question during the release of 50 States and really loved it. My answer for the debut was Line of Fire by Junip. It’s a song about the decisions we make when we’re in the line of fire and how we look back on those decisions when all is said and done. What would you do if it all came back to you?

Since carrying the same song forward feels like cheating, I’ll go with Hurt by Johnny Cash for many of the main characters in Ten Threads. It’s a song that beautifully balances regret and acceptance. It was written by Trent Reznor, of course, but it’s Cash’s version that hits home for me. Doubly so because the release of Ten Threads was postponed due to the loss of my stepfather, poignant for me because the companion is dedicated to the grandmother who raised me.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

My reading is as eclectic as my writing. I have four books going at any given time and as I finish one, I usually pick up something of a contrast. For example, I might bounce from a literary classic to modern horror or from science fiction to urban fiction or crime. Or, if we’re talking about nonfiction, I might finish a history book and pick up something educational or philosophical. It’s something I’ve done since college when I discovered how much I had missed out on by sticking with primarily two genres.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

I have more than 200 on my TBR pile right now so it’s easier to share what I’m reading right now. They include: Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley, Viking Heart by Arthur Herman, A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende, and I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson. I’m reading the latter with my daughter, and our schedules have been so packed that we’ve been carrying around copies for months. I’m excited to finish it because I’ll Give You The Sun will likely find a place on my favorite’s shelf. After that, my daughter and I plan to give A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas a try.

What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

Every scene takes hold of me when I write so there are no favorites. However, I was especially excited to write A Miserable Day, which is a continuation of A Beautiful Day in 50 States.

The story follows the granddaughter of the recently deceased and “disappeared” Ellen Williamson as she attempts to reconcile her loss against the backdrop of adults titillating over the details of her grandmother’s death. The granddaughter, Ellie Mae, measures the room as they ramble on about her grandmother, wondering what their stake in her life might have been because many of them are strangers in her eyes. Eventually, she can’t take any more.

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)

I still like to sit down at my computer in my home office with a cup of coffee and quiet (although I’m not unopposed to thumbing scenes on a cell phone at my daughter’s softball practice). So maybe my quirkiest writing habit isn’t where I do it as much how I do it. I tend to have several unfinished stories open at a time and enjoy bouncing back and forth between them until one takes hold. Right now, for example, I have three stories and one novel chapter in the works. None of them are related beyond the general idea that they will all intersect in one way or another some place down the road.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

The best life you get is the one you are living.

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

Nothing ever really ends, does it? Ten Threads is a rest stop or way point for some longer works that will surprise and delight people. I took a bit of a risk in releasing a 125-page, 10-story companion instead of a full anthology of new stories. It’s been well worth it while I work on my first novel and finish more stories that will eventually become a traditional anthology.


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