Margaret Malone is a 2009 Oregon Literary Fellowship recipient in fiction. Her work has appeared in The Missouri Review, Swink, The Wordstock Ten Anthology, latimes.com and elsewhere. She’s at work on a collection of stories and a memoir co-written with her husband. Feel free to contact her through her website.

Judge Lauren Grodstein had this to say about Margaret’s work:

“In “People Like You,” Margaret Malone’s devastatingly sad and funny short story, Cheryl and Bert decide to go to a party, and then they decide to leave. This is, more or less, all that happens. But in the finely detailed play-by-play – the getting dressed, the getting in the car, the getting lost on the way – Malone captures the perfect and crucial details, the details that give us the world. For instance: “I look around the party and realize two things. One, I hate parties… two, there are three other women present, and they are all pregnant. A tender spot: my eggs are no good.” In a gloriously downbeat first-person narration, Malone tells us about the party guest dressed like a “substitute teacher,” the host who accuses Cheryl and Bert of going through other guests’ coat pockets, the sad table of party snacks. She tells us about toilets with shag covers and forgotten birthday presents. But mostly, she tells us about the disconnect between people who share communities, parties, and friends. What “People Like You” does best is prove the sad truth that it’s often when we’re surrounded by others that we’re at our most alone.”

We asked Margaret some questions:

What are you working on currently?

Right now I’m working on a few different projects, some fiction, some non-fiction. That said, my current focus is mainly on a collection of short stories titled People Like You. Ten stories, a few of which have been published, and three more are out right now trying to find a home somewhere. The remaining stories are written in draft form but haven’t been man-handled by me nearly enough yet – so that’s what I will be focusing on this year. I’m eager to dive in and finish the collection, which I can do now, thanks to the OLF and Literary Arts.

Do you have a writing schedule?
Four days a week, I write in the mornings before going to work at my day job. On great days, that means an hour or more of writing, and on hectic days, I may get in only twenty minutes. Fridays I have off, so those are my “writing days” – the days when I get to live like I’d want to live if I didn’t have a day job. I start writing later in the day but write for longer periods of time. I love Fridays. But no matter how much time I spend on the work, I have to have that ritual of writing a little bit everyday, or I’d never get anything done.

What inspires you?
Connection. I love the small, everyday ways that people love and hurt each other. The things we regret, the things we’re proud of, obsessed with and embarrassed by. I’m just endlessly fascinated by the choices we make, and how we treat one another (for better or worse). Perseverance too – trying and trying and trying in the face of the unknown. Because eventually, with all that effort, success on some level, even if it’s just momentary, will happen.

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