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.

(Browse our archive of featured authors from The O. Henry Prize Stories.)

Comments Ron Rash

Being included in the O. Henry collection means so much to me because so many of the short story writers I admire have been O. Henry winners. William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor have been an influence on my own writing, and my two favorite living story writers, William Trevor and Alice Munro, have each been in the collection several times. It is an honor to now be part of such a distinguished group.

(author photo © Jeff Daniel Marion)

Writing Tips

The best advice I know for aspiring fiction writers it to read as much good literature as possible. When you read, concern yourself not only with what is being said but also with how the artist has made the story. Read a lot of poetry; it will teach you an attentiveness to language. Reading poetry teaches the fiction writer concision, but it also teaches him or her how to use sound and rhythm in prose. James Joyce began as a poet, and anyone who reads the last paragraph of "The Dead" sees and hears a writer who uses all the possibilities of language.

Beginning writers should also be patient. Unless you are one of the rare geniuses such as Keats, your early work is doomed to be mediocre and derivative. Persistence will get you through that period and allow to you find your own distinctive voice.

About the Author

Ron Rash grew up in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, and holds the John Parris Chair in Appalachian Studies at Western Carolina University. His poetry and fiction have appeared in many magazines, including Sewanee Review, Yale Review, Georgia Review, New England Review, and Poetry. He is the author of two short story collections, The Night the New Jesus Fell to Earth and Casualties; three volumes of poetry, Eureka Mill, Among the Believers and Raising the Dead; and two novels, One Foot in Eden and Saints at the River. Rash lives in Clemson, South Carolina.

Writer's Desk

  • I am currently finishing my third novel, which will be published in April 2006 by Henry Holt. A modified version of "Speckled Trout" is the first chapter in the novel.
  • Picador will publish a collection of my stories later in the year.

    To view Ron Rash's most recent PEN/O'Henry Prize author spotlight page, click here.

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