SmokeLong Quarterly
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Smoking With Lesley C. Weston

Art by Marty D. Ison
Art by Marty D. Ison
We love love love your writing style. How would you describe your prose?
I am usually tongue-tied when it comes to describing any prose, let alone my own, but I'll take a deep breath and give it a try… My prose style results from the battle between my love of languorous, poetic word constructions and the taut lines of energy in actions. A setting description, for instance, may tend alarmingly towards purple prose but when a character enters the scene their rhythm and language takes hold, usually paring down the choices. Thankfully, most of my writing is character driven and the actions of the characters, and their voices keep me in line.

This piece, much as a poem does, revolves around a strong central image, in this case that of "the bird tree." Where do you find such images?
Oh, this question is easy! Thank you. I walk around with my eyes and ears open. Bird trees are all around us, even in the heart of the cities. What constantly amazes me is the number of people who pass by them without noticing them.

You describe the birds as a "cloud of black whirling away." Does such amazingly wonderful phrases come out fully formed (in which case I will have to find you and hurt you)—or is there hard, painful work involved (in which case you have my full sympathies).
Please, don't hurt me! I cut more than I agonize—if I remember correctly "a cloud of black whirling away" popped out as is, but it was originally either proceeded or followed by "a dervish of wings"—so my hard painful work is not usually in forming the phrases so much as getting rid of a few.

How does "creating characters on the page" compare to creating them on the stage?
No one has ever rejected my writing because I was taller than the leading man they'd chosen. Sorry! Seriously, creating on a page and on a stage are both "inside jobs", but there are many less limitations between the pen and paper than between my all to human bones and the footlights. There is a fierce joy in creating characters that I could never play on a stage, there are nuances possible that can only be fully formed between the minds of the writer and the reader—no camera could catch them, no audience on the third tier balcony could see or hear them. There is the intimate partnership that only the direct exchange of the written word can offer. Don't get me wrong, I love and admire good acting, wonderful costumes, but they always suffer under limitations that don't exist in writing.

What are you reading?—watching?—listening to? Any recommendations? Any influences sneaking into your work?
What am I reading? Well, loads and loads of short stories and flash fiction by a wide variety of struggling writers in the workshops I am involved with, as well as pounds of literary magazines both print and on line. Hard and soft covered books? I just finished reading "Reservation Road" by John Burnham Schwartz, "Life of Pi" by Yann Martel, and "The Cabin" by David Mamet—couldn't really have picked much more different styles, but loved all three of them. I hope Schwartz's wonderful use of shifting POV will seep into my subconscious. Yann's immense imagination has certainly seeped into my dreams—tigers have made many appearances this week! Hopefully, Mamet's spare, direct style will help me keep a critical eye on my own work. Watching is harder—I hate to admit it in public but I've been watching all of the CD’s of "Star Trek, Next Generation," in order, for the last month. A most disturbing vice, I know. And if anyone is interested in an amazing musician, I stumbled upon a young man named Jeremiah Lockwood and his music is an unlikely and utterly fantastic form of Klezmer influenced Blues.

Read Bird Tree.
Issue Nine (June 15, 2005): Irvin Hammers a Cat House by Mike Young «» In the Dust by Joseph Young «» Pet Snail by Sam Vaknin «» Living in Sin by Stephen Ausherman «» China by Michelle Garren Flye «» In Too Deep by Kay Sexton «» How We Can Be Saved by Max Ruback «» Eros by Henry Stanton «» Saft by Jai Clare «» The Woman Who Sold Her Flute to Buy a Cabbage by Maggie Shearon «» Bird Tree by Lesley C. Weston «» Pornography by Steve Almond «» Brisket by Stuart Dybek «» A Deep Desire for Blue by Alexandra Fox «» The Names of Things by Cami Park «» Interviews: Mike Young «» Joseph Young «» Sam Vaknin «» Stephen Ausherman «» Michelle Garren Flye «» Kay Sexton «» Max Ruback «» Henry Stanton «» Jai Clare «» Maggie Shearon «» Lesley C. Weston «» Steve Almond «» Stuart Dybek «» Alexandra Fox «» Cami Park «» Cover Art "Groom Left Waiting at the Altar" by Marty D. Ison «» Letter From the Editor
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