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 Judy Troy
PEN/O. Henry Award-winning Author

Being included in the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories means a great deal to me because the stories are chosen by a writer whose work I admire, and my story gets to be in good company. Also, writing is so solitary that you forget your stories are "out there," and that people are reading them. What a lovely reminder. It gives me more confidence.

(author photo © Bob Sanders)

Writing Tips

To write the first draft takes just a small fraction of the time I work on a story--maybe 5 or 10 percent. I work on it until it's as good as I can make it on the computer, then I print it out and revise the hard copy, put the revisions into the computer, print it out again, revise it again, and so on, until I feel I've done everything I can to make the story--at that time in my life, anyway--reach its potential. I never keep track of how many drafts--that just seems irrelevant to me. I go through a ton of ink cartridges, which I hate, but it's the only process by which I can write a short story.

Sometimes I get into a sort of runner's high, working on a story, as if physiologically the story is demanding to come together. I have more energy, need less sleep--it's lucky when that happens, but I haven't figured out the secret of what exactly triggers it. Though waiting for a story to come to me rather than my looking for a story, seems to be part of it. So patience and trust, I guess, are components. And being patient is particularly difficult for me, because I'm always wanting to be writing something.

About the Author

Judy Troy was born in 1951 in Whiting, Indiana. She is the author of a story collection, Mourning Doves, and two novels, West of Venus and From the Black Hills. Her short stories have appeared in Epoch, The Kenyon Review, and The New Yorker, among other journals; her nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times and the St. Petersburg Times. She is Professor and Alumni Writer-in-Residence at Auburn University, and lives in Auburn, Alabama.

Writer's Desk

  • I'm currently finishing a novel entitled Memories of Earth, in which the disappearance of an 18-year-old boy in a small Arizona town unveils complexities, schemes, and secrets in the lives of five of its inhabitants. In structure the novel is a mystery, which is fun to do, but the interest for me lies more in the minds and hearts of the characters. Horton Foote, whom I so respected, said, "I believe very deeply in the human spirit and I have a sense of awe about it because I don't know how people carry on." That resonates with me, though I could not have put it as beautifully and simply.

  • Writer's Desk

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