Christopher Guerin never stopped writing. Having earned two English literature degrees from Northern Illinois University, he recently composed and released a book of 17 short stories, The Story of My Universe, marking the first release of his work by a commercial publisher.
Writing, however, was not always at the forefront of his career.
After working for two years in public relations, Guerin and his wife left Chicago. The couple moved to Colorado Springs for a few years, and Guerin found himself in the middle of the city’s local music scene.
It was a career choice that ultimately led him to Fort Wayne.
Classical Music and the Phil
“I loved classical music,” Guerin said in an interview with Whatzup. “I have since college. I knew a lot about it. In Colorado Springs, I sort of stumbled into a full-time job with the Colorado Springs Symphony.”
Guerin worked his way to the assistant manager position with the symphony. He later moved to Fort Wayne to become the president of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic in 1985.
But after spending two decades with the Philharmonic, Guerin decided that 26 years working for symphony orchestras was enough. When Guerin resigned his position at the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, he was asked by Chuck Surack, a Philharmonic board member and the owner of Sweetwater Sound, to lend his writing, music, and communications expertise to the growing enterprise.
Guerin managed many departments and initiatives during his years at Sweetwater, some of which include work in public relations and donations as well as establishing video and social media departments for the Fort Wayne company.
“I did a whole bunch of things at Sweetwater,” he said. “I worked there until three years ago when I retired, which allowed me much more time to write and finally put this book together.”
Time to Tackle a Novel
“My entire life I have written fiction and poetry,” Guerin said. “I have written short stories pretty regularly all the way back to the early ’80s and have published a number of them in what they call ‘little magazines’ — small literary magazines.”
In addition to this new collection of short stories, Guerin has produced several other works, including a one-act play that received a staged reading in 1998 by Equity Actors.
The one-act play, Quartet, follows four musicians who begin to argue over the course of a rehearsal. According to Guerin, during the quartet’s rehearsal, secrets are revealed.
While the COVID-19 pandemic delayed plans, he hopes Quartet will soon be fully staged.
Guerin’s versatility does not end at plays, music, and short stories. In 2018 the writer self-published My Human Disguise, the first of several planned collections totaling more than 600 sonnets. He has also published a number of children’s stories and three books of poetry.
Now, Guerin aims to tackle the personal challenge of writing a novel. While he has made previous attempts, he stands hopeful that his work in progress will prove successful.
“At least up until now, novels have been like Mount Everest for me,” Guerin said. “It’s very hard to sustain a narrative for two, three, or four hundred pages. In a short story, you can tell a whole story in a relatively small number of pages.
“The short stories came before the music. I was a writer all the way back to being a freshman in college. Even all the time that I was in the symphony business, I would still write in the evenings and on weekends”
Guerin continued to pursue his love of writing throughout his tenure at Sweetwater. He has now finished a second book of short stories that is double the length of his recently released volume.
An avid reader, Guerin draws inspiration for his writing from a number of different authors, including Franz Kafka, Nikolai Gogol, and Philip Roth. In fact, Guerin describes one of his short stories as a satire of Kafka’s 1915 novella, The Metamorphosis.
“It’s a very strange story about a man who wakes up to find that he’s been turned into a giant beetle,” Guerin said. “So I turned it around and had a guy wake up to find that he’d been turned into a tiny little beetle — a normal-sized beetle — and what does that mean?”
Guerin described three types of short stories that readers will find in The Story of My Universe.
“One is stories that are not quite fantastic,” he said. “They’re certainly not fantasy, but they’re more in the realm of magic realism. They’re somewhat unbelievable. Strange and impossible things happen.
“There are three stories that are about the symphony orchestra business. Those are more realistic in nature, though one of them is somewhat a bit of a satire.
“And then the rest of them are much more in the sort of realistic camp.”
Guerin explained that the very first story in the new collection, “Shoot Me,” which has to do with a hunting accident, actually happened.
“Some of this is taken, not a lot, but some of it is taken from real life,” he said. “In that case, the first half of that story happened to my brother, and the second half of the story happened to me.”
After a long career, the retired Guerin’s workload shows no sign of letting up any time soon. With several books in the works, including a novel, Guerin will continue to contribute to the literary world for the foreseeable future.
“I write every day,” he said. “It’s just part of my life.”
Guerin’s new collection of short stories, The Story of My Universe, is available for purchase on Amazon as well as at Hyde Brothers Booksellers on Wells Street in Fort Wayne.