NightstandGabe HudsonWhen it came to creating the title character in Gork, the Teenage Dragon, Hudson says, it was like Gork just popped up in his life one day. "I felt like I was a tool and Gork was telling the story,'' he said. "Of course, I had to work through the story, but the voice arrived fully formed."Hudson is also the author of the story collection Dear Mr. President, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award and winner of the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. For many years, he was editor at large for McSweeney's. Hudson will appear with Matthew Klam (Who Is Rich?) at 1 p.m. July 30 at the Oxford Exchange in Tampa. We spoke to him by phone from his home in Brooklyn, N.Y.What's on your nightstand?American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I also read his Ocean at the End of the Lane. I'm also reading Jeff VanderMeer's Borne. I've been a big fan of his since the Southern Reach Trilogy. He is a singular megatalent, and I couldn't wait to get started on Borne.How far into it are you?Not halfway through, but I have read all the interviews I've come across involving it, and so I have a sense of what it's about.When did the first dragon enter your life? For me, it was Puff.In song, that would have been the first. I used the cadence in my book, so yes, Puff was a first, but I always wondered about Tolkien's Smaug. Who was he, really? When you were a child, what genre did you enjoy?I liked Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson and all the Sherlock Holmes stories.And what about fantasy?I went through a huge Tolkien thing. I read the books again and again. I read all of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit many times.Is there something that will mark the fantasy genre in 2017 for future readers?I think the barriers that exist between literary fiction and fantasy are being torn down or ignored by a lot of writers, and so I think that cross-pollination between various genres, including literary fiction, is what we will see, a beautiful hybrid form. Contact Piper Castillo at [email protected] Follow @Florida_PBJC.