Saturday, September 13, 2014

Summer Short Story Spectacular, Season 1, Episode 16 - MELISSA YUAN-INNES

Today I welcome to my blog short story writerMelissa Yuan-Innes!

She is an emergency physician, writer, and cheerfully married mother of two loud children. They wreak havoc outside of Montreal, Canada. Her latest Hope Sze medical mystery, Terminally Ill, was hailed as "utterly likeable" by Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and hit the Kobo Top 50 bestseller list.

Time for some questions. Melissa, What is your all time favorite short story and why?

I kind of hate picking out my favourites, but when I was growing up, I would re-read "The Most Dangerous Game" and "The Monkey's Paw." Danger! Thrills! A satisfying ending! As an adult, I've read almost all the Best of Fantasy and Horror collections, and one of my favourites is "Gestella," by Susan Palwick, about a werewolf who falls in love with a man, except like dogs, she ages much faster than him...

What is the most difficult part of writing short fiction for you?

Sometimes, I write a very quick bite of a story that satisfies the poet in me, but the only to have the editor respond, "This story's just getting started." So I have to decide if I want to keep the story short and savage, or develop it into a more complex tale.

What piece of advice would you give to a prospective short story writer?

Work hard and have fun. 

Sounds like great advice, Melissa! Readers are going to want to know which is your short stories should they read first and why?

I have a soft spot for "Indian Time," featuring a Mohawk man newly released from jail who's trying to get to know his two sons again, only his white mother-in-law stands in his way. Publishers Weekly called it "impressive" and "moving" and named it one of the best short stories of 2010.

On a more personal level, I talked to some students at St. Lawrence College about it, and Tesha Sunday, one of the Mohawk students, had made my infant daughter a ribbon dress, "because you wrote about my culture, and you got it right." I had my daughter wear that dress until she ripped the sleeve!

Melissa's links:

Indian Time
And her latest novel: Terminally Ill


  1. Write and have fun. Words to write short stories by! Enjoyed the interview. Good luck with all your future writing, Melissa.

    1. Thanks so much for having me, Linda. And good luck to you, too, Gail. It's a pleasure joining in.

      In fact, special good luck if you two or anyone else enter Kobo's Going Going Gone Contest featuring three of my stories:
      You could win $5000 and a Kobo H2O Aura. So, if were to redo this column, I'd pick one of those stories--they're free and you can win!

      Happy writing and reading, everyone.

  2. It has been lovely getting to know you, too, Melissa! All the best, and perhaps we shall meet one day.