The Story Behind the Story: “Infamy”

In this segment of The Story Behind the Story, Grant Faulkner talks about what motivated him to write “Infamy.”

I created the character Ginny from the back story of a novel I’ve been working on for a while. She’s the mother of one of my main characters, but doesn’t appear in the novel, so I decided to write a few 100-word stories about her, in part because she’s different from my usual types of characters, yet I saw her so vividly.

Ginny is a person who has always been held down by others. She’s the type of person who allows herself to be treated badly, and almost expects it. In one story, she goes home with a man she waits on at the diner she works at, only to find he’s left with her scrapbook the next morning. Another story is about her relationship with her teenage daughter, Sheba. Ginny gave her the name Sheba so she’d be strong, “one to be reckoned with,” but the name backfires when Sheba hits Ginny during an argument.

In this story, “Infamy,” Ginny has achieved that rare and precious grace of not caring what others think. I grew up in a small town in Iowa, Oskaloosa, so I placed the story there in my imagination. Oskaloosa has a beautiful old band stand on its town square. I imagined Ginny doing her fantastic promenade around the square as people watched her from the restaurant across the street in a huddled, transfixed way that can only happen in a small town.

People might ridicule Ginny, but she’ll no longer be embarrassed. She’s stronger now in her way than everyone around her. I rarely write stories with happy endings, but this is one.

Grant Faulkner

About Grant Faulkner

Grant Faulkner is the executive director of National Novel Writing Month and the co-founder of 100 Word Story (100wordstory.org). His stories and essays have appeared in The Southwest Review, The New York Times, Poets & Writers, PANK, Gargoyle, eclectica, Puerto del Sol, the Berkeley Fiction Review, and Word Riot, among others. He's currently finishing a collection of one hundred 100-word stories, Fissures.