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Jul 3, 2017

How Award-Winning Short Story Writer Abigail Ulman Writes: Part One

The recent Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and acclaimed author of the award-winning short story collection Hot Little Hands, Abigail Ulman, visited the show this week to talk about having a beer with George Saunders, the life of a traveling freelancer, and the idiosyncrasies of great writers.

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In addition to being a freelance copywriter and screenwriter, the native Australian author and self-confessed gypsy has followed in the footsteps of other famous itinerant writers.

At Stanford’s two-year creative writing fellowship she got the chance to study with great writers like Tobias Wolff and Colm Toibin. Other notable fellows — to name a few — have included Raymond Carver, Ken Kesey, Scott Turow, Thomas McGuane, and Larry McMurtry.

Abigail’s short stories invited the interest of publishers, and her first book, Hot Little Hands, went on to win a 2016 Best Young Australian Novelist Award and is a collection of “… heartbreakingly tender and often darkly funny fiction.”

Lena Dunham called it a “… highly inventive collection of short fiction which hits virtually all my buttons,” and Publishers Weekly said of the book, “The captivating women in this collection leave a lasting impression.”

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In Part One of this file Abigail Ulman and I discuss:

  • How a love of travel and words led her to Stanford University
  • The emotional challenges she faced finishing her first book
  • On the shift from the solitude of writing fiction to the collaborative nature of screenwriting
  • How she tested out her interview skills on the biggest stage available
  • Why she nerds out about her coffee ritual

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