Interrogation—Glenn Gray

Who: Glenn Gray

What: His stories have appeared in a wide range of online and print magazines and anthologies. His story collection, THE LITTLE BOY INSIDE AND OTHER STORIES was published by Concord ePress.

Where: New York

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

Your short story, “Break,” kicks off the new Broken River Books anthology, HARD SENTENCES. How did you come up with the idea for this one?

That was all David James Keaton’s fault. Seriously. I was racking my brain for an idea, something medical. Maybe the infirmary at Alcatraz, from a physician’s point of view. I started researching Al Capone and his well-known history of syphilis in his later years. It was all pretty interesting, but nothing good jumped out or clicked as far as story. I considered various angles, but most were dead ends for me. Nothing unique enough. Then DJK posted a list of concepts in the HARD SENTENCES guidelines that he wanted to see written. One of them was, “a story inspired by that Russian guy in the news who squeezed through the food slot in his prison cell.” I was like, huh? So I searched online and found the video and was like, hell yes, we may have something here. I watched this lanky naked dude wriggling through the food slot of his cell like some kind of slippery fish. He plops down on the other side of the bars, puts his clothes on and nonchalantly walks away.

The wheels started turning. What if there was no food slot? How could someone squeeze through the bars? What would stop you? Bone, of course. If we had no skeleton, we’d just be a blob and could squeeze through anything, and I thought of that liquid metal guy in Terminator 2. So I started thinking about diseases, anomalies, syndromes, anything that could help. And for me, the medicine has to make sense in order to write it. It can be fantastical but it has to be based in some real medicine or disease. And the anatomy has to be perfect. I had some diseases in mind, did more research, settled on osteogenesis imperfecta, and quickly realized I had something workable.

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