“Putting Your Ear to the Tracks”

Jessica Wilbanks

Jul 22, 2021

This month’s interview over at Catapult focuses on Leesa Cross-Smith’s short story “Whiskey & Ribbons,” which was published in Carve magazine after winning the Editor’s Choice Award for the 2011 Raymond Carver Short Story Contest, and which later became a novel published by Hub City Press.

When I asked Leesa about the image that began this project, she described her inspiration for the piece.

The image that set the story off for me was a man standing at a window. It was snowing, and he was holding a baby. I could see it so vividly in my mind. Originally the guy was sort of like Tim Riggins from Friday Night Lights. He was a little whiter than the brown baby he was holding, and the baby wasn’t his. So why was he holding this baby in the middle of the night? That’s how I write entire books, from an image like that.

Hear more about Leesa’s thoughts about endings, structure, and why you should trust your readers at the full interview linked here.