USA Archives | The Short Story Project

Aimee Bender is an American writer. She was born in 1969 in Los Angeles. Her first book, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, was published in 1998 and was a NY Times Notable Book. Two years later, her first novel, “An Invisible Sign of My Own,” was published, which was also critically acclaimed. In 2005, Bender published another collection of stories, “Willful Creatures,” which was highly praised and also has her unique style of surrealistic characters and plots. However, it was only after the release of the novel “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” (2010) that she won her true recognition. The book was a best seller and was praised by critics. Bender has won prestigious literary awards (including twice the Pushcart Award), and has published short stories in prominent literary magazines such as Granta, GQ, Harper’s, McSweeney’s and Paris Review. She teaches Surrealism at the University of California and is active in social projects such as the Imagination Workshop, a program that encourages writing and artistic work among people with special needs and mental disabilities. She lives with her family in Los Angeles.


Martha Witt is an American writer. She grew up in Hillsborough, North Carolina. She received her M.A. in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University, and an M.F.A. in fiction writing at New York University, where she was a New York Times Fellow. Her novel Broken As Things Are was published in 2004. She lives in New York City.  

Katherine Anne Porter was an American writer. She was born in India Creek, Texas in 1890 and lost her mother at the age of two. At age fifteen she married John Henry Koontz, the first of four husbands. She spent her early twenties moving from Texas to Chicago and back, working as an actress, a singer, and, later, a secretary. In 1917, after a battle with tuberculosis, Porter took a job as a society columnist for the Fort Worth CRITIC. Two years later she moved to Greenwich Village, New York where she began to work seriously as a fiction writer. Despite her self-imposed exile from her home and Southern background, Porter used this distance as a means of coming to terms with the memories she sought to escape. Supporting herself with journalism and “hack” writing, Porter published her first story in “Century” magazine. In 1930 her first book, “Flowering Judas”, a masterly collection of short stories. Only about ten years later she published her second book, a collection of three short novels, “Pale Horse, Pale Rider”. She followed this in 1944 with “The Leaning Tower and Other Stories”. “Ship of Fools” (1962), was Porter’s first and only novel. Dealing with the lives of a group of various and international travelers, the book became an instant success. Based partially on a trip to Germany thirty years earlier, Ship of Fools, attacked the weakness of a society that could allow for the Second World War. After 1962, Porter did very little writing, though she won a Pulitzer Prize for her Collected Stories four years later. In 1977, fifty years after her protest of the Sacco and Vanzetti trial, Porter wrote an account of the event entitled “The Never-Ending Wrong”. Three years later she died at the age of ninety. Outliving most of her contemporaries, the strong-willed Porter left behind a thin but insightful body of work. Her flawless pen and harsh criticism of not only her times, but of human society, made Porter a major voice in twentieth century American literature.



Sharma Shields is an American author. She received her B.A. in English Literature from the University of Washington (2000) and her MFA from the University of Montana (2004). She published the short story collection, Favorite Monster, and the novel, The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac. Her novel, The Cassandra will be publishd in 2019. Sharma’s writing has appeared in Electric Lit, SliceThe New York TimesKenyon Review, Iowa ReviewFugue, and elsewhere and has garnered such awards as the 2016 Washington State Book Award, the Autumn House Fiction Prize, the Tim McGinnis Award for Humor, a Grant for Artist Projects from Artist Trust, and the A.B. Guthrie Award for Outstanding Prose. Sharma has worked in independent bookstores and public libraries throughout Washington State. A Public Services Specialist at the North Spokane and Spokane Valley Libraries, she is a board member for the Friends of the Spokane County Library District and also serves on the programming committee for Spokane’s Spark Central. She lives in Spokane with her husband and two young children.

Herbert George Wells is considered one of the pioneering authors in Science Fiction. Wells was born in Kent County, England in 1866, during the last phase of the Victorian Age. With academic education as a biologist, his futuristic prose combined social criticism and dystopian themes. Among his renowned novels are The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), and The War of the Worlds (1898), all of which include modern themes such as the rise of technology and science. Wells died in 1946, at the age of 79, of unspecified causes, at his London home.

Amy Gustine is an American writer. She is the author of the short story collection You Should Pity Us Instead, a finalist for the 2017 Ohioana Book Award in Fiction. Her work has appeared in many publications, including The Michigan Quarterly Review, The Kenyon Review, The Alaska Quarterly Review, and the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Journal. She is the recipient of an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council and a Pushcart Prize XXXII Special Mention for her story “Goldene Medene”.

Steven Schwartz is an American author. He grew up outside Chester, Pennsylvania, and has lived in Colorado for the past thirty-two years. He is the author of four story collections, Little Raw Souls (Autumn House), To Leningrad in Winter (University of Missouri), Lives of the Fathers (University of Illinois), Madagascar: New and Selected Stories (Engine Books), and two novels, Therapy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and A Good Doctor’s Son (William Morrow). His fiction has received the Nelson Algren Award, the Sherwood Anderson Prize, the Cohen Award, the Colorado Book Award for the Novel, two O. Henry Prize Story Awards, the Foreword Review Gold Medal for Short Stories, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, MacDowell, and Bread Loaf. His essays have appeared in The Massachusetts Review, The Gettysburg Review, Crazyhorse, Image, and have been awarded the Cleanth Brooks Prize in Nonfiction from The Southern Review. He teaches in the low-residency writing program at Warren Wilson College and the MFA program at Colorado State University, where he also serves as fiction editor for the Colorado Review. Married to the writer Emily Hammond, they have two grown children.

*Author’s official website

Washington Irving was born in New York in 1783 to a family of Scottish origin. Irving was the youngest of 11 children, only eight of which survived to reach adulthood. Also a historian and a biographer, Irving became one of the first American writers to be widely accepted in Europe as an American author. Irving is thought to have been the first American author whose stories take place in the United States. Irving died at the age of 76 in Tarrytown, New York, where Sunnyside, his homestead, has become a tourist attraction.

Jack London was born in San Francisco in 1876. In his earlier years, he worked, among other occupations, as a fisherman, a journalist, and as a sailor. As part of the Gold Rush, London went to Alaska but returned from there penniless. These experiences greatly influenced his literary writing. Among his best-known works are the novels The Call of the Wind, The Sea-Wolf, White Fang and The Iron Heel, as well as the short story “To Build a Fire,” which was written and published in two different versions. His writing is known to have an influence on naturalism in literature and on the genre of science fiction. London died in 1916, at the age of forty.

Johnny Gruelle was an American author and illustrator best known for his children’s series Raggedy Ann and Andy, as well as the very popular Mr. Twee Deedle cartoon. He was born December 24th, 1880 in Arcola, Illinois. Johnny Gruelle eventually created over forty Raggedy Ann and Andy books, all capturing his unique version of childhood.