Stephen Case’s story “Barstone” is published in Shimmer Issue #13. teaches physics and astronomy at a small liberal arts college in Illinois. His fiction has appeared in Ray Gun Revival and Beneath Ceaseless Skies and his poetry in Mindflights and Isotope. His Research on scientific instrument collections in the antebellum south was recently published in the journal Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences. He lives with his wife, twin sons, and baby girl.
Tell us how “Barstone” came to be.
Sometimes a word or phrase gets stuck in my head just as I’m drifting off to sleep or waking up. (Once I dreamed I was a bit actor in the first Star Wars movie and recalled my single line perfectly on waking.) If I’m very lucky, this might be the kernel for a story. One night as I was falling asleep I heard Barstone’s name, and I decided to write about him. I really did live in Mississippi, and I really did have a three-legged dog. I did not, however, marry the girl with freckles.
Which authors, if any, have had an influence on your own writing?
My brother-in-law once said I write like Gene Wolfe, and I’m not sure anyone’s ever paid me a higher compliment.
As a child, did you want to be a writer, or did you have different aspirations?
I wanted to be an astrophysicist.
When did you know you were a writer?
I think something happened at college and I realized that writing would always be a part of any “real job” I took. I started writing short stories then and decided to add a writing minor to my science degree.
If you could choose any five literary people — real or imagined, living or not, friends or otherwise — for a gathering (lunch, tea party, etc)… who would they be?
C. S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton, Jorge Luis Borges, and Gene Wolfe. We’d probably have to meet in a pub. If it really had to be five, we’d let Alexander Schmemman come along to bless the meal.
Favorite book that you’ve read recently?
I recently had to read Father Acosta’s “Natural History of the Indies” for a course and truly enjoyed it.
Favorite book from your childhood?
The book that changed my life was “The Book of the Long Sun” by Gene Wolfe.
If you could have written any short story or novel in the world, which would it be?
I think that “The Last Unicorn” by Peter S. Beagle is one of the most perfect books in the world, and had I been able to write that or write something like it one day I would be pretty satisfied.