Ask the Author | Adam Soto

Author, high school English teacher, and Web Editor for American Short Fiction in Austin Texas, Adam Soto, found himself including ghosts in many pieces he was working on. This fascination with ghosts led to his new novel, ‘Concerning Those Who Have Fallen Asleep: Ghost Stories,’ a collection of 13 different short stories that released on Oct. 4.


Contributed photo from Adam Soto.

Anaka Sanders, Arts Reporter

Adam Soto is an author, high school English teacher, and Web Editor for American Short Fiction — a literary journal in Austin, Texas. His second novel, “Concerning Those Who Have Fallen Asleep: Ghost Stories,” released on Oct. 4. It follows the release of his debut sci-fi novel “This Weightless World” last year and was longlisted for Best Debut Novel in 2021 by Locus Magazine. Soto is also a musician, spending time with his band, The Brighter The Day, and was recently appointed the director of Insider Prize — a literary contest for incarcerated writers in Texas. Soto is giving a reading at Prairie Lights Bookstore on Oct. 27 over “Concerning Those Who Have Fallen Asleep” and will be speaking with fellow Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate Nickolas Butler.

The Daily Iowan: What is your book “Concerning Those Who Have Fallen Asleep: Ghost Stories” about?

Adam Soto: It is composed of 13 different short stories. Each deal with the theme of ghosts, but each is an attempt to change the way that most ghost narratives function. Sometimes the ghost is sort of hidden in a more realistic story and is slow to reveal itself. “Concerning Those Who Have Fallen Asleep” does some genre-hopping and definitely embraces horror in places as well as science fiction and a speculative style of writing. Some of the stories are scary, many of them are very melancholic; One or two of them are actually kind of funny.

DI: Did you have a favorite ghost story or one that was the most fun to write?

Soto: My absolute favorite is the story “Animal Fires.” It’s actually my favorite piece of writing that I’ve ever created. I was inspired by a number of different stories that my wife had shared with me about some areas in the Gulf of Mexico in Texas. It is a human portrait of this tight little family, and the grief and confusion that they share. I really fell in love with the setting of this little beachside farmhouse that I crafted. It just has a really special place in my heart. I also like writing about animals, so all the little animal characters in it were really lovely to me.

DI: How did you come up with the idea to write about ghost stories?

Soto: I’ve always liked supernatural stories. I’ve always liked ghosts and learning about how ghosts function and what they are like in other cultures. There are certainly other cultures in the world where living amongst ghosts is a totally normal thing. Nobody would ever have to ask you whether you believe in ghosts.

I was taking breaks from writing my first novel, “This Weightless World,” which came out in 2021 — it took nearly a decade to write. I would take these breaks and write short stories to continue practicing that form which I really love and to get a little boost and immediate feedback. I would send them out, and every so often one of them would get published; that was nice. About a year and a half ago, I was talking with my editor and my agent, and we were talking about doing another book. I was looking at different manuscripts that I had, different books that I was already working on. I had this pile of short stories and suddenly realized, ‘Wait, there’s a ghost in so many of these.’ I said, “What if it’s a collection of ghost stories?” It was funny because after everybody was on the same page we thought that would be a great idea, a good follow-up for this strange science fiction novel that I had written. Stories that I had been having a hard time finishing. When I started to frame them in a ghost story, they suddenly clicked — I know exactly how to write the story and how to finish it. Just throw ghosts in it.

DI: Did you release the book on Oct. 4 on purpose because it is so close to Halloween?

Soto: It was originally slated for late September, which I was always happy about because it’s so close to Halloween. So, the fact that there were some printing issues with some supply chain paper thing or whatever; that bumped it. I thought that it was even better that it came out in the spooky month.

DI: What are you looking forward to before your reading and conversation at Prairie Lights?

Soto: I’m just so excited to be going back to Iowa City. I graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2012, and I went back in 2013, then I haven’t been back since. Just being in that community again and meeting the current students at the workshop — learning about what they’re working on, seeing old instructors, and visiting some old haunts around town. Being able to be there with Nick Butler, who was my roommate in grad school — he’ll be joining me for the event that evening and just reliving that space together I think is going to be really magical. I’m excited to share the stories with the Iowa City community. There’s just such a warm, receptive, and discerning literary audience. I am honored to be welcomed back.