Beaufort author Tim Johnston talks about the art of the short story

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Beaufort author Tim Johnston talks about the art of the short story

Special to Lowcountry Life
Published Friday, February 24, 2012   |  497 Words  |  

Tim Johnston, founder of Short Story America, spent most of his career teaching English, literature and creative writing. He spent five years as headmaster at Beaufort Academy, leaving in 2009 to pursue his lifelong passion of writing short fiction. Johnston's latest story published in print is "The Guest," which appeared in the January issue of PineStraw, a Southern Pines, N.C.-based magazine. Born in Pittsburgh, Johnston spent much of his childhood growing up in Durham, N.C.

Question. What is Short Story America?

Answer. It is an online print and soon-to-be audio publisher of classic and contemporary short stories that was started in 2010 ( The print version is a hardcover book called "Short Story America Anthology," which is a collection of 56 short stories.

Q. Why did you start it?

A. The short story is a great original American literary art form. I think we all have favorite short stories from our childhood or recently, but the short story has not been given the credit it deserves.

I started it to provide an outlet for top emerging writers of short fiction to gain an audience for their stories. We receive about
75 stories a week.

Q. Why did you gravitate to short stories?

A. When I got older, I saw how the best short stories connected with me as a human being and revealed aspects of society that are important. It's a brilliant art form because when done well, it both entertains and matters to our souls.

Q. Who are your favorite short-story writers?

A. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Carver, Ernest Hemingway, Flannery O'Connor, Ray Bradbury, there are so many.

Q. Any contemporary writers you admire?

A. The author who is writing the foreword to our second anthology has burst onto the scene this past year with a short story collection called "Volt." His name is Alan Heathcock, who is from Boise, Idaho, and he teaches creative writing at Boise State.

Q. What advice can you give to budding writers who want to get published on websites or in print publications?

A. If it's short stories, read lots and lots of short stories. You must be an avid reader in the form you want to write. If you just want to write and you aren't a passionate reader, you are not going to write anything good. I work with grown-ups in the area who want to develop their craft as writers, and that's my first advice. There's an old clichè that goes, "There are great readers who are not great writers, but there are no great writers who are not great readers."