Q&A with John Mathews, writer of “She’s Out There”

Now that my debut short story She’s Out There has been out for over a week now, I decided to answer some questions I received from readers! If you haven’t read it yet, know that a spoiler is referenced in response to a question down below, so I recommend giving it a read before proceeding! You can read it for yourself right here. With that out of the way, let’s answer some questions!

What inspired you to write She’s Out There?

I came up with the idea of writing this story a couple of months after going through a breakup. It had been the first relationship I’d been in. Prior to that, I had been striking out on inquiring in person and wasn’t having any luck on dating sites. I decided to write a story to express the doubts I was starting to feel, but I wanted to present it through the eyes of a fictional character. I hoped writing this story candidly would be a cathartic experience for me, and I wanted to share it with the world in hopes that it’d maybe resonate with some people also feeling lost.

What has been your experience with online dating apps?

That aforementioned relationship I was in was blossomed through matching on OkCupid. I’ve also tried POF, Tinder, Bumble and Coffee Meets Bagel. I’ve had matches on some of these services, but they’d usually result in the match unmatching me after I introduce myself, or we’d actually get talking, but the match would suddenly go AWOL on me.

What are your past experiences with short stories? Were there any short stories that inspired you?

To be honest, I’m not a real big reader. Most of what I have read are novels and not short stories. But I felt like She’s Out There was something that would flow much better as a concise short story than a stretched 40,000+ word novel, so that’s why I made the decision to make it a short story.

Did any films inspire She’s Out There?

While the real inspiration for the story came from my heart and personal experience, (500) Days of Summer was a film that I definitely drew some inspiration from. The final scene of that film where Tom meets Autumn was something that inspired She’s Out There‘s epilogue, where Kyle meets Emma through random circumstance.

Is She’s Out There the full story, or the first part of something you’re planning?

This is likely the full story. I could see where one could think I was setting up a sequel with the epilogue, but I instead wanted to leave the story letting the reader choose how it ends. Was Emma just a really friendly stranger doing her good deed for the day? Or was this the start of something between the two of them? I wouldn’t completely rule out the possibility of Kyle’s story continuing down the line, but I felt wrapping up She’s Out There the way I did, appropriate.

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