Q and A with Hal Ackerman about his new story collection The Boy Who Had a Peach Tree Growing Out of
Tell us a little about your new book.
The stories follow characters approaching the end of a relationship or enduring its immediate aftermath: relationships between lovers, between parent and child, among a family of rabbits.
You've written novels, a popular guide to screenwriting, and this new story collection too. Do prefer one form over the other?
I love writing fiction. Theater, too. The immediacy is a exciting. I recently wrote and performed a one-person play called Testosterone: How Prostate Cancer Made a Man of Me. I describe it as Tootsie, but with prostate cancer instead of a dress.
You taught for years in the prestigious film school at UCLA - how has a lifelong fascination with film informed your fiction-writing?
Screenwriting imbued me with an inherent sense of structure. When I finished my first 'soft-boiled' murder mystery, Stein, Stoned, I was surprised to discover it had a perfectly proportioned three-act structure.
Which writers most influenced you while you were writing the stories in The Boy Who Had a Peach Tree Growing out of His Head: ...and Other Natural Phenomena?
I don't know if they'd claim me, but I'll tell you who I love reading (Present company included). Richard Ford, Sharon Olds, Alice Munro, Pinckeny Benedict, Milan Kundera, Kurt Vonnegut, Aleksandar Hemon, Anne Beattie, Lorrie Moore, Amy Bloom, John McPhee. And of course Updike and Nabokov.
What are you working on now (if you don't mind telling us)?
I am working on a novel called T'Shuvah whose basis is an amazing true story about a Jewish soldier about his relationship with a captured Nazi war prisoner during World War II.
Hal Ackerman has had numerous short stories published in literary journals, most recently in The Idaho Review. Others include The North Dakota Review, New Millennium Writings, Southeast Review, The Pinch, The Yalobusha Review. “Roof Garden” won the Warren Adler award for fiction. “Alfalfa,” was included in the anthology, I Wanna Be Sedated…30 Writers on Parenting Teenagers. “Belle & Melinda” was selected by Robert Olen Butler as the World’s Best Short Short story for Southeast Review. THE DANCER HORSE received a Pushcart Nomination.
TESTOSTERONE: How Prostate Cancer Made A Man of Me was the recipient of the William Saroyan Centennial Prize for drama. Under its new title, PRICK, it won BEST SCRIPT at the 2011 United Solo Festival.
His first collection, The Boy Who Had A Peach Tree Growing Out Of His Head...and Other Natural Phenomena,has just been published.