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 L. E. Miller
O. Henry Award-winning Author

It is a terrific and overwhelming honor to appear in a collection I savor every year, to keep company with writers whose work inspires and delights me. My presence here this year speaks to the wonderful democracy of the short story form, The Missouri Review, where "Kind" first appeared; and this collection. I feel challenged to keep writing at the top of my capabilities, to do what I can to keep the short story vital and necessary.

(author photo © 2009 Illumea Photography)

Writing Tips

I have written only one story in recent memory that came out fairly quickly, as a coherent whole. Generally, my stories need time—sometimes years—to ripen and accrue details. When I'm lucky, elements start appearing: a picture in the newspaper, a conversation overheard at another table, a fortuitously recalled incident. When I'm very lucky, all these pieces work together in a way that lends depth, resonance, and coherence to the story. While the particular tension in a story often occurs to me early in my process, I am often unsure how it will play out until quite late in the game. This was true of "Kind." When I finally realized that Edith should say to Ann, "I forgive you," it allowed me to complete the story in a much more satisfying way.

Every one of my stories has its own journey, whether relatively smooth or difficult. No matter what the outcome, the ride is always thrilling, treacherous, exhilarating, heartbreaking, and instructive.

About the Author

L. E. Miller was born in 1963 in Boston, Massachusetts. She has published short stories in The Missouri Review, Scribner's Best of Fiction Workshops 1999, and twice in CALYX. Miller holds an M.A. in fiction writing from the University of New Hampshire. She lives in Newbury, Massachusetts, and works as a grant writer for several local non-profit organizations.

Writer's Desk

  • I have been working on a collection of stories for years. Stories have come in and gone out with impunity. I am now about halfway to completion. This year, I have set myself the challenge of writing one new story every month. By doing this, I expect to generate enough material to finish this collection at last. I have a few ideas for novels kicking around, but I find good short stories especially magical and anticipate working in this form for a long time to come.

  • Writer's Desk

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