English professor republishes collection of short stories

A&E, Campus News

Capital University professor Bryan Hurt re-printed his book of short stories, Everyone Wants to be Ambassador to France, this summer.

The book originally came out in 2015, but since the original press went out of business, the book was reprinted by Red Hen press over the summer of 2018. Although Hurt edited a book called Watchlist before this, Everyone Wants to be Ambassador to France was the first time his personal work was published.

Hurt originally wrote this book as his graduate school dissertation. It’s a compilation of several short stories from a variety of genres, of which he said he can’t pick a favorite, though he says the most interesting to write was about Alan Bean.

Hurt said he was inspired to write this story by the many songs and pop culture references made about Bean.

“Alan Bean’s story is basically that he went to the moon – he was the fourth guy to walk on the moon – and then he retired from NASA to become a professional painter,” Hurt said. He decided to write the story during a nonfiction/journalism class in graduate school. He said that he was able to get a phone interview with Bean, but the interview didn’t go as planned.

“I emailed the person who ran his website online and got a phone interview with him. It was the first interview I’d ever done and I think I completely embarrassed myself.  I didn’t know what questions to ask and I asked all the wrong questions,” Hurt said.

Bean didn’t view himself as the sort of tragic figure that pop culture painted him out to be, and Hurt said it came through in the interview.

“The interview didn’t really match what I expected and so I was like, ‘I don’t know what to do,’ so I just sat on it for a couple of years and then I was like, ‘well if I’m not gonna write the nonfiction piece maybe I can fictionalize it to some extent, so I wrote a short story,” Hurt said.

Hurt said that his inspirations for his stories often come from pop culture, like the story about Alan Bean, or maybe even from his life. For example, a story in the book called “Panic Attack” was inspired by a rejection letter he received.

The title of Everyone Wants to be Ambassador to France comes from a line in one of the stories about a man plotting to kill a president due to, shockingly, wanting to be ambassador to France. When he is discussing this with another character, the character responds with the eventual title of the book.

Hurt explained that he thought this line was an appropriate title because the stories included a lot of characters with fantastical aspirations and the idea of being ambassador to France strongly represented that.

Hurt gave some advice for new writers.

“Write every day,” Hurt said. “You’ve got all these competing things competing for your attention, so pay yourself first. If you’re passionate about it make sure that you give yourself time every day to do it and you get better over time.”

The collection of short stories is available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Gramercy Books among others.

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