Alan Heathcock, the 39-year-old author of the story collection Volt (Graywolf), teaches writing at Boise State University, but he's also been a swimming pool manager and toiled at the American Bar Association, among other jobs. Two other career paths were considered but discarded. Heathcock says, "I thought long and hard about pursuing a career as a police officer, and separately as a minister. The police officer in me told me I was too blunt/curt to be an effective minister, and the minister in me told me I was too forgiving to be an effective police officer. I became a writer, in part, because it was the only significant profession that allowed both sides of my personality to exist and be expressed."

Volt represents a decade's worth of Heathcock's work as a writer and earned a starred review in PW. Several of the stories have appeared in magazines such as Harvard Review and Zoetrope, and most are set in the imaginary town of Krafton.

One story in particular captured the attention of Graywolf Press director and publisher Fiona McCrae when Sarah Burnes of the Gernert Company submitted the collection to her: "The minute I read ‘The Staying Freight,' I knew that I had to publish Volt at Graywolf," McCrae says. "I love how Heathcock isn't afraid to take risks in his stories. He allows them to play out for longer than you'd expect and they have a strong and surprising emotional impact."