Issue 92: Bill Gaythwaite

Bill Gaythwaite headshot

About Bill Gaythwaite

Bill Gaythwaite grew up in Boston and is the author of Underburn, (Delphinium Books/HarperCollins 2023). His short fiction has appeared in Subtropics, Chicago Quarterly Review, Puerto Del Sol, South Carolina Review, North Dakota Quarterlyand many other journals and anthologies. Bill has worked at Columbia University since 2006, where he was on the staff of the Committee on Asia and the Middle East and is now the Assistant Director for Special Populations at Columbia Law School.

You can buy Bill's debut novel Underburn here
His website (with selected short stories) is
His recent essay on the writing process can be found here

A Profile of the Author

Notes on "If You Only Knew"

I have a special feeling for this story because I wrote most of its first draft while my son was an infantLarge chunks of it were written in the middle of the night with him in my lap when he couldn’t sleep. I cradled him while typing with one handThese memories are forever linked. Considering that my son is now 26, I suppose this piece also represents persistence.  "If You Only Knew" was a finalist in various contests and came “close” at other magazines, but it was never offered publication.  I didn’t give up on it thoughI just kept revising it through the years The story itself was always a pleasure to come back toKevin’s sardonic voice remained in my headIn the revision process, I did cut a long scene at the end between Kevin and his estranged father, a Kill Your Darlings strategyIt was a really tough decision for me, but I think it helped the story overall.  I still do much of my writing in the middle of the night, given other schedules and responsibilities, but sadly my infant cradling days are in the pastI’m so pleased that when "If You Only Knew" found a home it was at Willow Springs!  

Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.

I’m a movie guyI’ve never been a music guy, so when it comes to music I depend on my partner Tom and his all-encompassing Spotify playlistWithout him, I would only be listening to Kelly Clarkson covers, which are fantastic, but there’s something nice about getting some music education on a drive to the grocery store.  Unlike Tom, I really only listen to music in the car.  I’m always pointing to the dashboard and saying, “Who is that again?” and Tom will grimace and say, “It’s Pat Benatar, how do you not know that?”  We listen to everybody from Frank Sinatra to Troye Sivan, from The Rolling Stones to Years & YearsOn our drives, I get acquainted with groups like Public Enemy or The Go-Gos, who I should have been listening to in my youth but I was too busy watching old moviesTom will sometimes stop the music and tell me facts about a particular singer or about the first time he went to an Elton concert or when he saw Diana Ross at Radio City or the time he met Kenny Loggins after a showI like these little biographical interludesIt’s like when he lets me pause old movies to explain why Barbara Stanwyck was considered Hollywood’s most cooperative actress or why Humphrey Bogart’s Oscar win was so popularI guess we each get points for patience.     

“If You Only Knew” by Bill Gaythwaite

By Donhiser, Fiona | October 25, 2023

Found in Willow Springs 92 Back to Author Profile BEFORE MY FATHER RUNS OFF, he suddenly showers us all with attention. It’s jarring at first, like having someone crowd next to you on a bus when there are plenty of seats in back. There’s something desperate about it, but I’m not thinking this at the time. … Read more

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