Jason Ockert is the author of Wasp Box, a novel, and two collections of short stories: Neighbors of Nothing and Rabbit Punches. Winner of the Dzanc Short Story Collection Contest, the Atlantic Monthly Fiction Contest, and the Mary Roberts Rinehart Award, he was also a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award and the Million Writers Award. His work has appeared in journals and anthologies including New Stories from the South, Best American Mystery Stories, Oxford American, The Iowa Review, One Story, and McSweeney’s. He teaches writing at Coastal Carolina University.
"Everyday Murders" (from storySouth)
"Smoke remains weeks after the wildfire is contained. It hovers in the singed pine forest like an apparition and when rain finally arrives, the recalcitrant southern ground sizzles."
"Max" (from The Iowa Review)
"Crows arrive heavy as always. The mid-November sky over Auburn turns from gray-blue to black-sheen as the birds by the tens of thousands settle in. Most people here hate to hear the shrill caws and the thump of wings punishing the air. It’s the sound of something ending."
"Sailor Man" (from Post Road)
"The phone rings and wakes the baby up and it's after midnight and for a moment there before the clamor it was quiet and nice. Answering the phone this late is never a good idea, it cannot be happy news; last time I picked up the receiver after midnight I heard word from a groggy nurse that my mother had passed which was a surprise since everyone knew it was my father's time to go."
"Insectuality" (from Ecotone)
"Arc went into the city to soothe a woman’s hands. Her name was Muir. She entered the bakery wearing a scarf and sunglasses one afternoon and pointed to a pastry filled with cream, behind the glass."
"Shirtless Others" (from Born)
"A thin woman waits to slice the Mako shark with a butcher knife. This is the last shark of the competition and the biggest my lover and I have seen. This one could be a winner."
Interview with The Fiction Writers Review:
"Good writers manage to stay curious despite the mind-numbing bullshit that laps upon our adult doorsteps. The kinship to our childhood is that curiosity."
Interview with Wraparound South:
"The best stories have an uncanny way of making you feel as if you are not alone in your pain and individual struggles. Important writing doesn’t teach us new things about ourselves it reminds us of the simple truths we may have temporarily forgotten."
Interview with Panhandler Press:
"Good writing is generated by finding the right words every single time. Sentences must do more than serve the events of the narrative. Discourse isn't a dutiful dog leashed by plot. A sudden turn of phrase or surprising image can make a scene pulse and anchor the reader onto the page. I'm always re-working sentences, searching for the best ones."
Interview with Hobart:
"I look at fame and fortune the way that I look at flying and invisibility. They're cool ideas. There are rumors that writers can achieve these feats. That doesn't mean I'm going to throw myself off a building or don a cloak of invisibility and strut publically nude. Better to keep my shirt on, feet planted, and let the chips fall where they will."
Interview with Full Stop:
"The way I see it, the only truth a fiction writer is bound by is an emotional one. An underrated asset to a writer is his/her ability to feel. Poets know this sublimely. I like my artists a bit unhinged; uncomfortable in their bodies."
Interview with One Story:
"I like to take disparate characters, clack them together, and see what sparks. Part of the joy comes in the surprise of discovering undetected similarities."
Interview For the Shirley Jackson Award:
"Nothing can break your heart like a good short story. Since there isn't a ton of time to make sense of a shorter narrative you can often trick the heart into feeling something before the pesky brain goes to work dissecting, dissecting, dissecting. I like that a short story can create its own logic and that you can carry the world-he sentences—around with you as you move about the hum-drum day."
Podcast and Videos
Video- Story:"Into the Dead"
Video- Story:"Shirtless Others"