Hi, Joe. Thank you for talking with us. To start off with, your experiences in the Vietnam War have inspired a number of your novels and stories, including your first book, War Year. How did your time in the army influence “Graves”?
Vietnam gave me the central image for “Graves.” We were airlifted into an area that included a graveyard, which had been extensively shelled. Plenty of moldy old corpses. Very different from the fresh ones we normally dealt with.
“Graves” won both the Nebula Award and the World Fantasy Award for best short story in 1993. Were you surprised by the fan response it received, or the attention it continues to get?
I don’t think many writers are actually surprised by success . . . The more likely feeling is, “Hey, if you think this is good, you should see X.” Or, “Why the hell didn’t you give an award to X?” among the less charitable.
Looking back at your story a decade after it was first published, is there anything you would do differently if you were writing it today?
I don’t think so, but I don’t have the story at hand right now. (In the middle of unpacking after a move.)
If you were to teach “Graves” in your writing class at MIT, what would you want your students to take away from it?
I think viewpoint consistency in a first-person story that spans some years. Or “How 2 rite creepy.”
What work can readers expect to see from you next?
I have a short story, “For Emily,” coming up in F&SF soon; a collection, The Best of Joe Haldeman, out this year; and a novel, Work Done for Hire, next year.