Contributor Spotlight: Josh Denslow

Josh Denslow’s short story, “Too Late for a Lot of Things,” was a runner up in our 2015 Editor’s Reprint Award and can be read here.

Tell us a little more about “Too Late for a Lot of Things.”
Like most of my stories, this one started with an opening paragraph. Then I got excited because I was able to work in this vague idea I’d had of a guy working at a Christmas-themed amusement park. It began to breathe when I discovered his animosity toward his co-worker who portrayed Santa Claus. I loved the buried jealousy. And by making him physically short, his inadequacies were manifest for the world to see. But when I saw how much humor suffused the story, that’s when I knew I had something. I love listening to these people talk.

What’s the most difficult part of the writing process for you?
I guess I’d have to say starting a new project is always the hardest. I’ll rewrite the first few paragraphs hundreds of times until it becomes the blueprint for the rest of the piece. Once the first page is set, I refer back to it every time I move the story forward. That first page will return me to the feel of that particular piece. It’s the doorway to the tone, the voice, and the mood. Life is always trying to convince me not to write, but no matter how far I get from a story, I can always find my way back in by rereading the first few paragraphs. So with that kind of pressure, starting something new can feel daunting.

Recommend one book published in the last decade.
This is hard. I think I’ll first recommend the books I’m reading right now because they are on my mind: The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. Bizarre and utterly human, I can’t believe I haven’t read VanderMeer sooner. As far as I’m concerned, he’s a magician. The other book that immediately springs to mind is Orphan Master’s Son. It shows a completely different world, but unlike VanderMeer, it’s real. I think it’s the most I’ve ever recommended a book, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t do it here.

If you could have a drink with any living author, who would it be? Why?
Hey, maybe I could get a drink with Jeff VanderMeer. Someone put us in touch!

What are you working on now? What’s next?
I finished a novel last year that is currently being reviewed by agents. I have no idea what’s going to happen with that, but I guess that’s the point. While I’ve been waiting around, I wrote a YA book that turned out to be the most fun writing experience I’ve ever had. So much plot!

Our thanks to Josh for taking the time to answer a few questions and share her work. Read Josh’s short story here:


Josh Denslow’s stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Third Coast, Cutbank, Wigleaf, The Dr. T.J. Eckleburg Review, and Black Clock, among others. Josh plays the drums in the band Borrisokane and edits at SmokeLong Quarterly.