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 Lydia Fitzpatrick
2016 O. Henry Award-winning Author

When I got the email saying that a story of mine had received an O. Henry Prize, my first thought was that the editor had gotten me mixed up with Lydia Davis (my married name is Lydia David, and this is a recurrent fear/hope of mine). For a few days I waited for an "our apologies for the mix-up" email, but when that email didn't come, I told my husband, and did some trepidatious celebrating. The email still didn't come. I told my mom. I did some mildly raucous celebrating. Now I'm truly hoping that "apologies" email never comes, because I've loved and taught The O. Henry Prize Stories for years, and I can't believe my luck at being included in its pages.

(author photo © Grainger David)

Writing Tips

In workshop, a friend of mine once quoted Alan Gurganus as saying that the writer should try to make the reader laugh and cry on each page. I am not a funny person (at least not when I intend to be), nor am I a funny writer, so this advice sent me into a funk. But then I found myself starting to appreciate its broader implication: that writers strive to find a balance between light and dark on every page. To find that balance in every story or novel as a whole. I still try to be funny sometimes, but I try, too, to remind myself that there are other ways to achieve this balance and that it is a writer's responsibility to remind readers of life's lighter moments, its beauty, our grace, and that, without this relief, the darker moments aren't nearly as impactful.

Writer's Desk

I'm just finishing a draft of a novel set in Louisiana and in a refinery town in Russia's near east.

About the Author

Lydia Fitzpatrick was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University from 2012-2014, and a Carl Djerassi Fiction Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train, Mid-American Review, and Opium. She received her M.F.A. from the University of Michigan, where she was a Hopwood Award winner. She's also received support from the Elizabeth George Foundation. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

Writer's Desk

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