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Interview: Nick DiChario on “Bella and the Blessed Stone”

Nick DiCharioTell us a bit about “Bella and the Blessed Stone.”

On the surface, “Bella and the Blessed Stone” is about a girl who has an epiphany and what that epiphany costs her. I love to write stories that are hard to categorize, and I think “Bella” is one of them. It’s not exactly science fiction or fantasy. It’s not a dream, an allegory, or an alternate history. Mr. Finlay, in his intro, called it a “contemporary fairy tale of sorts,” which might be as close as anyone will come. Whatever you want to call it, the story fits comfortably within the genre — a clean, well-lighted place open to quirky short fiction that can at times defy classification. I’m grateful for that, and for the ever-adventurous readers of F&SF who appreciate stories that stretch the imagination and challenge the very idea of story.


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

I had a notion that I wanted to write a satire (of sorts) about social media, human behavior, culture, chance, and faith. That’s a lot to pack into a six-page story, but I hope I’ve done it, or come close. As I get older, I find that I mull a lot. I enjoy mulling. In fact, I love the word mull. It’s a small word that carries a fair amount of heft. I’ve always been a muller to an extent, but while I used to mull over my job, to-do lists, responsibilities, and family stresses of one kind or another, I’ve replaced that with what I call creative mulling. I’ll take long walks outside (one of the advantages of living in Florida), or go to the gym or a yoga class and let my imagination wander. Sometimes this doesn’t lead to anything I’ll want to write about, and other times I’ll get a few story ideas. I might go home and take some notes, or type out a couple paragraphs to see what sticks. That’s how “Bella” happened. I was thinking about how social media has shortened our attention spans, how humans are becoming creatures of brevity. We only have a moment to stand out in the crowd, and when that moment passes, we die a little death. I wanted to write a story that explored that social trend. I suppose that was my inspiration. It began on the yoga mat as a downward dog, and it ended up in the pages of F&SF.


What was the most fun about writing this story?

“Bella” is one of those pieces that was at first a thought experiment and became a story as I was writing it. That can be scary or fun, depending on how it goes. It’s fun when it works. I got lucky this time. Things got interesting when God walked on stage not as a character but as a meme. That gave me the bright idea to write the piece from the omniscient point of view, pull the camera angle way out, and fiddle around with the question of God and science. I love super tight stories where the reader can’t afford to take a break, where every sentence counts. I thoroughly enjoy writing that way. I think, in part, it’s why I’m so drawn to folk and fairy tales. I’m an obsessive rewriter. I get a kick out of trimming and refining after the first draft is done. So, to your point, I guess I’m going to waffle on the most fun part. It could have been getting the idea, finding the story, rewriting it ad infinitum, or seeing it in print. Let’s call it a happy draw.


“Bella and the Blessed Stone” appears in the March/April 2019 issue of F&SF.

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Visit Mr. DiChario’s website by clicking on his photo.


One Response to “Interview: Nick DiChario on “Bella and the Blessed Stone””

  1. Something Old and New for April 2019 – Nick DiChario on April 19th, 2019

    […] talk about my short story “Bella and the Blessed Stone” in this interview posted on the F&SF site (April 11). I hope you get a chance to check it out. You can buy a copy […]

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