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 O. Henry Prize-winning authors free rein to share their thoughts on these questions and others, and the result is a rare treat.

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Comments James Lasdun
2010 PEN/O. Henry Award-winning Author

Obviously it's a great honor to have a story selected for this wonderful anthology, but beyond that it's just extremely nice when anything happens to give your work a little extra, unexpected life.

(author photo © Nina Subin)

Writing Tips

This was an unusual story for me, in that it was based on a real event—the accidental death of a neighbor. Finding a tone and point of view that would do justice to the tragic nature of what happened while also allowing me to extend things in the direction I wanted to take them, was extremely hard, and I had dozens of false starts before I got anything that seemed to work even remotely. I suppose I could have written it as reportage, but somehow the event, with its odd mixture of human drama and deus ex machina chance (or mischance) seemed to call for the imaginative freedom of fiction. My own feelings of affection and shock and loss were very bound up in my desire to write about it, and I wanted to write something that would give form to those feelings. A certain amount of transformation seemed necessary.

About the Author

James Lasdun was born in London in 1958. He has published several books including The Horned Man, a novel, and Landscape with Chainsaw, a collection of poems. His story "The Siege" was adapted by Bernardo Bertolucci for his film Besieged. He co-wrote the screenplay for the film Sunday (based on another of his stories) which won Best Feature and Best Screenplay awards at Sundance. His story "An Anxious Man" won the inaugural UK National Short Story Award in 2006. It is included in his latest collection, It's Beginning to Hurt. Lasdun lives in upstate New York.

Writer's Desk

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