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Smoking With Sandra Maddux-Creech


"Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Pipe"
by Vincent Van Gogh
How did this story come to such an ending, "dry and rough"?
It was originally the second to the last line, and Dave Clapper asked for a small edit at the end. We did go back and forth a couple of times, but it resulted in the original final line being mercifully killed. Don't ask what that line was. I won't tell you. Maybe Dave would. But I like the contrast between the water in the line before and the dry, rough hands at the end.

What place, for you, has the magical power that Old Leningrad wields in this story?
The river, of course, as opposed to the church and the other buildings. I like the idea of water touching one place or one person and then flowing off to touch places and people on the other side of the world.

What effect did the MFA at Colorado State have on your writing?
It taught me a lot that I didn't realize I'd learned for years. When I graduated, I was a bad writer. I still remember things people told me in workshop, things I resisted then. They talked about nuance and deeper meaning. I was only a storyteller. I still am a storyteller, but now I feel like a writer.

Congrats on being the finalist in some fantastic contests. Do you ever write a story for a specific contest? Also, any advice for those writers such as me who have yet to place in any contest, even one that my mother was judging?
I'm sure it was judged blindly, and that's why she didn't move you up. But thank you. I was thrilled to place in those contests. The e-mail from Glimmer Train kept me grinning for days. But when I have written specifically for a contest, I haven't done well. My only advice would be to read, read, read. Read the winners. Read what's getting published every day.

The titles of the stories in this issue wowed me and got me thinking about the value of the great title. What are some great titles—for novels, stories, movies, albums, CDs, and the like? And what is the worst title you've ever encountered?
I've always hated the album title, Weasels Ripped My Flesh. But, though I have respect, I'm not a huge Zappa fan, so maybe it has some meaning I'm not aware of. It's odd, but now that I think about it, my favorite books don't have fantastic titles. Some great titles: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, On Beyond Zebra, Foggy Mountain Breakdown, Films About Ghosts, God Shuffled His Feet, Through the Looking Glass, Pictures of the Gone World, Fables of the Reconstruction, Let us Compare Mythologies, Postcards from the Edge, and Pretzel Logic. Do I have to cite the sources for all those? I'm probably forgetting the very best ones.

Read Old Leningrad.
Issue Seventeen (June 15, 2007): Renoir Responds to Aline Charigot’s Charges of Painting Her Ugly by Daniel Bailey «» Cymothoa Exigua by Christopher Battle «» Oblivious by Gary Cadwallader «» The Wedge in Between by Debbie Ann Eis «» One Purple Finch by Kathy Fish «» Clouds by James Hanley «» Mousafa's Woman by Kyle Hemmings «» First Night by Ric Jahna «» My Great-Aunt Meets Jesus at the Mobil Station in Montana by Stephanie Johnson «» Old Leningrad by Sandra Maddux-Creech «» Selective Memory by Mary McCluskey «» The Attraction of Asphalt by Stefani Nellen «» Of Potential by Jim Nelson «» Portrait of a Mother, Beforehand J.M. Patrick «» Midnight in Albuquerque by Tiffany Poremba «» Flatlining in the Edward G. Bellacosta Memorial Park by Jake Ruiter «» Prow by Claudia Smith «» I Know This Man; He is My Father. by Tavia Stewart «» In the Last Frame by Beth Thomas «» My First Two-Headed Boy by Veronica Thorn «» Interviews: Bob Arter «» Daniel Bailey «» Christopher Battle «» Gary Cadwallader «» Debbie Ann Eis «» Kathy Fish «» James Hanley «» Kyle Hemmings «» Ric Jahna «» Stephanie Johnson «» Sandra Maddux-Creech «» Mary McCluskey «» Stefani Nellen «» Jim Nelson «» J.M. Patrick «» Tiffany Poremba «» Jake Ruiter «» Claudia Smith «» Tavia Stewart «» Beth Thomas «» Veronica Thorn «» Cover Art "Peace in a Time of Monsters" by Marty D. Ison «» Letter From the Editor
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