Clones, Cavemen and Christmas Angels

Take a trip through Stacey Richter's imagination with her new book of short stories, Twin Study

There are a few things you probably don't know about Tucsonan Stacey Richter.

Like, for example, her curious preoccupation with hedgehogs. Or her fascination with odd medical procedures. Or that she's great company when you walk your dog or go out for dinner, especially when she picks up the check.

You may also not know that Richter, who wrote movie reviews for the Tucson Weekly for about three years back in the mid-'90s, has an enchanting imagination and a dazzling voice. She's had her short stories published in magazines such as GQ, Seventeen and Penthouse, as well as a bunch of those fancy-pants literary journals you wouldn't recognize. She's the winner of four Pushcart Awards, which go to the very best short stories of the year. And she's won the National Magazine Award for fiction, even though, as she puts it, "I never won one of those stupid Arizona Press Club awards."

Richter, who describes herself as a "widely anthologized and very, very fancy writer," grew up in Phoenix before she set off to see the world--she earned her master's degree at Brown University--and many of her stories are about Arizona and the West.

No less an authority than The New York Times Book Review declared that Richter's first collection of short stories, My Date With Satan, "offers a refreshingly original vision, reminding us at every turn that our surfaces rarely reflect the depths of our human reality."

Now she's back with a new collection, Twin Study, which features short stories about clones, time-traveling cavemen, girls in rock 'n' roll bands and dogs that run wild when they can get out of the yard. Publishers Weekly notes that "Richter has a great feel for dialogue and conflict, extreme and otherwise."

The story here, "Christ, Their Lord," came about after Richter visited an open house for a home for sale in Winterhaven.

"A what-if thought started swirling in my head: What if I had to live in Winterhaven? I love it there, because I love the old houses, but then I would have to deal with the most terrible time of the year," says Richter, who traditionally spends her Christmas holiday in Las Vegas.

If you enjoy this story--and we have no doubt you will--you can find more online, where you can also ask her all the questions that you didn't find answers for here. And it goes without saying that you really should go buy Twin Study today.

So what about the whole hedgehog thing?

It seems to strike her as a stupid question. She wonders: "Who doesn't like hedgehogs?"

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