Anchor Books The O. Henry Prize Stories
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What does it mean to be included in the O. Henry Prize Stories? How does an author refine their art? We've given the authors of the winning and recommended stories free rein to share their thoughts on these questions and others, and the result is a rare treat.

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Comments Kate Cayley
"The Bride and the Street Party"
2017 O. Henry Award-winning Author

Being in this anthology means being put in good company, past, present, and to come. It's a commonplace that writing is solitary and can feel like pushing a stone up a hill. This makes me feel like I'm in the presence of others, doing the same thing, and that we're in this together. Plus I'm pretty gobsmacked by the honor of it. I hope that goes without saying.

(author photo © Carmen Farrell)

Writing Tips

I want to write with a mixture of strict control and complete freedom, and I think that's the tightrope: to know why you do a thing, and how you do a thing, and, as much as and at the same time, not to know. So you set out hopefully, each time you sit down to write, and with some basic tools, but really going forth blindly, not sure of where you'll end up. Too much freedom is self-indulgence, too much control is arrogance. So the trick is to inhabit both things, and pray for luck.

Writer's Desk

I am working on a novel about a young girl who grows up in a religious commune in the 1970's, and then is forced to leave it and negotiate a new life for herself in Toronto. It is long and ruminative and a bit of a theory of everything book. When I have time, I'm working on a second collection of short stories. This feels a little dizzying: the rules for throwing your punches early and getting out quick are so different than for a longer, more leisurely paced thing like a novel.

About the Author

Kate Cayley was born in 1978 in Ottawa, Canada. She has written two collections of poetry, When This World Comes to an End and Other Houses, and a short story collection, How You Were Born, which won the Trillium Book Award and was a finalist for the Governor General's Award. She is a playwright-in-residence with Tarragon Theatre, and has written two plays for Tarragon, "After Akhmatova" and "The Bakelite Masterpiece." She lives in Toronto.

Writer's Desk

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