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Interview: Sean Adams on “An Obstruction to Delivery”

Sean AdamsTell us a bit about “An Obstruction to Delivery.”

Based on the true and tragic story of what happened when, in 1984, the town Glennfork, Vermont experimented with a new subterranean mail route, we follow a post office forced underground by the actions of a rambunctious young mail carrier, Peter Ponducci, who’s since disappeared. They no longer have to worry about weather or appearances as they walk the tunnels, but they do need to worry about whoever–or whatever–is killing their coworkers and reducing them to piles of bones.

Also, there is no Glennfork, Vermont. I made that up.


What was the inspiration for this story, or what prompted you to write it?

I wrote the story my first semester in grad school. Most workshop leaders required you only put up two stories each semester, but there are often slots to go a third time. I signed up for one. It felt like a real nothing-to-lose situation. The two stories I’d already put up, while satirical, were definitely more straightforward. There was no harm in going off the deep end and trying something a little weird.

The idea itself had been knocking around in my head for a while. I had initially imagined it as a series of vignettes about the postal workers in the tunnels, the plot being built mostly on their various relationships and workplace drama. Then I thought, these tunnels would be a great place for a monster to live. So I added a monster, and it was like, well, I guess this is about a monster now.


Was “An Obstruction to Delivery” personal to you in any way?  If so, how?

It feels very personal to me more now than when I wrote the first draft. I’d always enjoyed reading speculative fiction, and a lot of my stories before this one had been speculative-ish, with elements of weirdness or the otherworldly, but this feels like my first real foray. And since I’ve started, it’s been hard to stop.


What are you working on now?

I’ve got a story coming out in the literary magazine The Normal School about the career of an actor who only plays cadavers, and then a few other stories that are almost ready to send around. Mostly, though, I’m focusing my efforts on finishing a draft of a novel. It’s about the relief effort following the collapse of a strange city in the desert. I’m calling it “The Heap” and not just when I’m mad at it.


“An Obstruction to Delivery” appears in the July/August 2017 issue of F&SF.

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Clicking on Mr. Adams’s author photo will take you to his website:


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