Aaron Tillman


Aaron Tillman is an Associate Professor of English at Newbury College. He received a Short Story Award for New Writers from Glimmer Train Stories. Two pieces of his flash fiction were nominated for inclusion in The Best Small Fictions of 2015 anthology. His fiction has appeared in several literary magazines, including Arcadia Magazine, The Madison Review, The Carolina Quarterly, and great weather for MEDIA. He has recorded stories for broadcast on the Words & Music program at Tufts University and for Functionally Literate Radio. His short story collection was a finalist in the 2015 Autumn House Press Fiction Competition.

On your nightstand: 

Jess Walter’s novel Citizen Vince, Karen Russell’s short story collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove, and Ross Gay’s poetry collection Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude. It’s a terrific nightstand at the present time.

If you could spend a day with an author, who would it be?  

If it’s okay to take some liberties here, I would spend the day with Jorge Luis Borges. More than anyone, his work inspired me to write fiction. I’ve always found his concepts chilling and his descriptions beautiful. Since I’m already spending my day with a dead man, I might as well put us in Buenos Aires too – a place I only know through his fiction and poetry. Perhaps a walking tour of the city? Never mind that he was blind for the latter part of his life. I am imagining a sensory tour, lit by memory and imagination. If anyone can help make that happen, please let me know.

Who or what inspires your writing?

I would love to say music or art or something really cultured, but most often it’s stupidity and absurdity – primarily my own – that inspires my writing today. Either I’m wondering how and why something happened, taking creative liberties when necessary, or I’m imagining a circumstance that is just-beyond-conventionally-acceptable, and exploring how far I can push it without losing believability. Although it doesn’t always happen, I am always hopeful that the writing will help me learn something about myself and the world.