17: C. P. Boyko, "The Prize Jury"

It's December 17. C. P. Boyko, author of Novelists and Psychology and Other Stories, orders the second-most-expensive item on the menu.

How would you describe your story?

C. P. BOYKO: A stirring dissection and fearless glorification of the ineluctable mystery and inestimable strangeness of existence by a shrewd observer of the psyche and astute physician of the soul operating at the very pinnacle of his powers. —Oh, wait, that’s an excerpt.

When did you write it, and how did the writing process compare to your other work?

CB: A few years ago now, I think. The writing of it was arduous, satisfying, frustrating, puzzling, overwhelming, boring, and exciting by turns. All the writing I do is like that.

What, for you, are the essential elements of a good short story? 

CB: It should probably be short, or it may be mistaken for a good novel, but otherwise I’m not sure. I wish I knew!

Did this story require any research? If so, what?

CB: I used a few of the notes, ideas, character traits, turns of phrase, words to conjure with, and observations that I’ve been collecting in notebooks all my adult life, but if I recollect aright, no research per se was required, no.

Where can people go to learn more about you and your work?

CB: The library and the internet are probably good places to start. As a last resort, I guess they could phone me.

What's on your Christmas list this year?

CB: A new melody to hum; a smile from a pretty stranger; a nice dessert, something hot and cold, sweet and savory, crunchy and smooth; seven unforgettable sentences; a genius grant; good sleep and continuing good health; a freehold tenure of time with energy instant and inexhaustible; company.