Lee is a creative writing professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Her fiction has been heard on NPR's Selected Shorts. Lee has published a novel, The City Is a Rising Tide, and her short stories have appeared in Atlantic Monthly and Zoetrope. Her collection Bobcat and Other Stories was released last year in Lee's native Canada, and in June it will be published in the United States by Algonquin Books.
What's on your nightstand?
I've got four. First, Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence. I'm reading every paragraph out loud and pretending I wrote it. I've got David Quammen's Spillover. It's about that leap when infectious diseases go from animals to humans. It's not good for me to read because I'm somewhat of a hypochondriac. I always keep a book, it's dusty now, Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. I keep it out because it feels like God wrote it. The voice is so wise and deep. And A Town of Empty Rooms by Karen Bender. It's got big domestic drama. I describe her as reminding me of Jonathan Franzen. There's so many characters and great political backdrop.
How long did it take to write all of the stories in Bobcat and Other Stories?
Well, I wrote the one titled Flatlands when I was 24, and I'm 45 now. In between, I wrote a novel, so I did pause for quite a while.
And what do you prefer more — the short story or the novel?
I worked for awhile for C. Michael Curtis of the Atlantic Monthly. He said a really great story has an entire novel in abundance in it. So, I have a feeling that I'm always secretly hoping my story will turn into novel, and actually one did turn into novel. I think, though, that I often approach them the same way.
Piper Castillo, Times staff writer