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Smoking With Claudia Smith

Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette
""Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette"
by Vincent Van Gogh
"The world is my target." Does she have it right? Can one target the world without one's self becoming a target?
Hmm. I don't know. Maybe someone can target the world without becoming a target. But I'm not sure if she can.

How do you come up with your titles? I love your titles. Mine—not so hot. Secrets—I need all your secrets to great titles. Please.
I wish I had a secret. Titles are sometimes difficult, sometimes easy as pie. They seem to come more easily to me when I write flashes; maybe because often, flashes are like puzzles to me, and the title is the solution. Usually, when I write a flash I either know the title when I start, or I know it before I've finished. In this story, I started with the image of lips, and I think the title came to me when I was almost done. You know, sometimes I end up shaving off a last sentence and turning part of it into a title. But thank you, thank you for saying my titles are great, because I don't always know what to make of them myself.

"Well, it's true now," she says. What makes "truth" in the world?—and why do lovers only want things that are true? Or am I talking nonsense here?
Lovers want things that or true, or, at least, they say they do. I don't have lovers figured out yet. There's often a craving to get closer and closer, isn't there? And then, when you do, you realize it's probably impossible to really get inside someone else's skin.

I write, and I believe a lot of people write, in an attempt to get at truth. I write fiction, and not memoir, because I believes it frees me up to be honest in ways I might not be if I were caught up in factual details. I think fiction can get at emotional truths we didn't realize were there.

How psyched are you about the upcoming Norton anthology The New Sudden Fiction and your story being it in it? Woo-hoo!
Very, very excited. I remember reading the first Sudden Fiction anthology when I was in high school, after it came out. I'd never read anything like it. Our senior year, we had to do a project and I did mine on Sudden Fiction. I wrote a Sudden Fiction story myself for it; I don't remember exactly what happened in it, only that it involved an old witch and probably sound a lot like an imitation of One Hundred Years of Solitude, another book I fell in love with that year.

Time for the first (and perhaps only) SLQ deserted island questionnaire. One CD. One novel. One flash piece. One movie. One very much alive famous person. One very much alive writer. One SLQ editor with the initials R.B.. Go!
Okay, here goes:

One CD: I've been very nostalgic for outlaw country since Waylon and Johnny Cash died, so I'll say if I were stranded on an island tomorrow, I'd want The Highwaymen, Willie, Waylon, Cash and Kris - Live

One novel: Okay, I put a lot of thought into this one. I'm thinking something long, right? Because who knows how long I'll be on that island. But then I thought about it some more. I'm going to need a rich fantasy life on that island. So I'll say Wuthering Heights. Plenty of material for romantic daydreams.

One movie: I was thinking about all the movie greats, the movies I love that make me feel as if I've climbed a mountain - Citizen Kane, The Godfather, The Elephant Man. And then I thought about all those great, intimate, personal movies from the 1970s. But you know, honestly, I think I'd want something light and fun. Clueless, maybe. Or something romantic that reminds me there is more than sand and ocean in the world - Dr. Zhivago. Not my favorite movies. But I'm stranded, right? So I don't think I'd want my favorites. I'll watch those when I get off the island.

One flash piece: How about a really short story by Hemingway? Is that cheating? I'm thinking "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place."

One very much alive famous person: Vince Vaughn. I won't cheat on my husband with him or anything, but he will make me laugh and we will flirt. By the time we get off the island, I'll have lost the babyfat I'm still carrying and I'll be in great shape from lifting all those coconuts and building rafts. Then Vince will introduce me to all his famous, funny friends and some movie mogul will give me money for one of my stories. It'll become a film - Vince will play a dark character against type and get an academy award.

I would say Jeff Daniels, but I'd rather have the thirty-something Jeff Daniels with me.

One writer: Who is alive? Okay, maybe this is cheating, but I think I'd want one of my friends with me. Kim Chinquee, or Jim Whorton, Or Pia Ehrhardt, or Darlin Neal....there are many writers I'd like there with me. Okay, I'm picking one. Okay, I'll say Jeff Landon, because he will make me laugh. And it's good to have a friend with you in such situations.

Read Her Lips.
Issue Thirteen (June 15, 2006): A Foreign Woman by Roberta Allen «» Fetichismo by Christopher Battle «» How the Broken Lead the Blind Until They Both Become Something Else Entirely by Matt Bell «» See Odi Naked by Lisa K. Buchanan «» Memory of Sky by Jai Clare «» The Captain by Ron Currie, Jr. «» Bingham by Steve Cushman «» The Table by David Erlewine «» Daffodil by Kathy Fish «» Fishing by Mike Hagemann «» Real Estate by Jennifer A. Howard «» Emily Avenue by Jeff Landon «» Tough Act by Steven J. McDermott «» Cheering by Srdan Papic «» Something Blew by Ellen Parker «» Euclid's Elements by Mary Lynn Reed «» Miracle by Chad Simpson «» Her Lips by Claudia Smith «» Man and Dog by Girija Tropp «» Randomization by Joseph Young «» Interviews: Roberta Allen «» Matt Bell «» Lisa K. Buchanan «» Jai Clare «» Ron Currie, Jr. «» Steve Cushman «» Katrina Denza «» David Erlewine «» Kathy Fish «» Mike Hagemann «» Jennifer A. Howard «» Jeff Landon «» Steven J. McDermott «» Srdan Papic «» Ellen Parker «» Mary Lynn Reed «» Chad Simpson «» Claudia Smith «» Girija Tropp «» Joseph Young «» Cover Art "Despair" by Marty D. Ison «» Letter From the Editor
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