I was born in Southern Georgia to a working-class poor family. I started working when I was 12, mowing grass. I was a custodian and then worked in hotels through high school and college. I worked for the Air Force as a civilian, worked as a counselor, and landed in higher education where I taught and then became an administrator. While I wrote in high school and college, it wasn’t until I was teaching that I had my first publication. Married with two teens, we live in Western Tennessee.
What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?
I would say that my greatest accomplishment was having a story published in The Saturday Evening Post, and then being named among the best new fiction by The Saturday Evening Post in 2019. However, the accolades from some of my published books have also been very nice.
Why do you write?
I think writing evolves as does the reason one writes. When I began, I wrote about feelings, frustrations, etc. It was a limited and maybe egocentric form of writing, but eventually, I wrote about things that happened in life, injustices, humorous stories, and much more. I think one can’t stifle creativity. It’s a very natural way of being in the world.
What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)
I think I have a very “normal” process. I typically compose on my computer and I write early in the morning (I get up at 4am without a clock and always have). I typically go back two or three times to edit, but I usually read most things out loud to my wife. Generally, I catch more errors that way. She also likes to offer her comments. By the way, she doesn’t always like my stories and I’m okay with that. I then rewrite a couple of other times before I send pieces off for consideration. Sometimes, I have had acceptances the same day, but while those are truly rewarding moments, they have been few and far between. I have had thousands of rejections, but I have also had stories published that were often rejected. I’ve come to know that “fit” is an important part of the writing process that most of us don’t understand even if we know the editor, the magazine, and the requirements. I can even read published pieces in a magazine and still not know “fit” and I’ve read pieces in magazines and couldn’t believe the editor selected or published it. There’s something about the process that is ambiguous and maybe always will be.
Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?
No, early in my career when I was really trying to get published, I had friends who were faculty members review and offer feedback, and I have had other published writers read drafts and offer feedback (such as Lee Smith, Janice Daugharty, Inman Majors, and others), but other than my reading stories out loud to my wife (to mostly catch errors and get any opinion she might have), I don’t ask anyone and I find it a bit awkward when someone asks me to offer a blurb or review or even feedback on a draft. I’m becoming even more shy about that.
Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?
Well, I have a flash fiction collection titled For the Cheesecake (title is from one of the stories published in Forth Magazine in L.A.), a novella-in-flash titled A Blessing and a Curse, and about thirty unpublished stories I’m constantly submitting for consideration. While I certainly don’t have expectations of anything happening, I do have an agent in CA who is pitching two films and a series for me.
Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?
I am teaching a flash fiction workshop through the Pat Conroy Literary Center in South Carolina and am excited about that, and I’m judging a flash fiction prompt for Vancouver Flash Fiction in British Columbia this month. The above submitted works will hopefully get picked up this year. I have several stories forthcoming in multiple journals and magazines like The Hong Kong Review.
What do you hope to achieve as a writer?
Some of my work has been meaningful with nominations and I think they speak to quality, but I don’t know if they will survive the test of time like other writers may have historically. Plus, I think what survives is changing rapidly. There are lots of writers out there, many publishers, and a lot of magazines that come and go. This has never been about money for me. I have a career. I often joke that I couldn’t pay one month’s house payment with what I have earned in royalties through the years, but to be recognized by peers has been meaningful to me. This year, The Citron Review took a story titled “Keeping Time” and then nominated it for a Best Microfiction award, The Boston Literary Magazine took a piece titled “Mean Boys” and nominated it for a Best Microfiction award, and other magazine in New York, Big City Lit nominated my story “Rotarian on Vacation” for a Pushcart Prize, my third Pushcart nomination. Ultimately, I should be satisfied with what I have done—a novel, two collections, and a novella (plus the ones coming)—and the recognition. I never expected any of it and if I dropped dead tomorrow, I would leave this world very appreciative.
What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?
Most of them that are bad typically say something good, so I’m not sure they are actually bad. I think they bring attention, and like the news on a nightly basis, I’m not sure it’s the good or bad that matters. It’s the attention, and actually, I’m not sure I think that’s how it should be, but it’s reality, and what’s even sadder to me is that I don’t think anyone really reads them and I don’t even think a lot of people read in general.
What advice do you have for novice writers?
Don’t give up. Keep it up, keep going, trying. It’ll happen eventually, but you might want to ask yourself starting out, what do you want out of this? If it’s money, you might want to stick with your day job and do this as a hobby. I don’t mean that to be discouraging. On the contrary, I mean for it to be a wake-up call and to be realistic.
What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?
I think social networking and social media are GREAT and have been important to me in my writing/publishing. I actually went to New York City to read with a group of writers I’d met via social media. I really didn’t know any of them and interestingly, some of them thought I was British because of my name—Niles Reddick. When I got on stage to read and this deep Southern accent came out, they were stunned. I thought it was hilarious.
Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)