SmokeLong Quarterly
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Smoking With Bob Arter

You guest edited issue 17. What do you, as an editor, look for in a story? What about your own story, "Paper Mouse," fits this criterion?
First, typos and other niggling errors. After that, I want the sense of the story to pass through the writer as transparently as possible to the reader. In this particular flash, rhythm is also an important element—I wanted a sort of singy-song fairy tale.

It does have terrific rhythm and song quality. What genre of music do you envision accompanying this fairy tale?
Anything danceable—good beat, get out on the floor, put the coins in the slots, push the buttons on the jukebox, and boogie. My Paper Mouse is into hip-hop, possibly into freestyle. Back in medieval times, there was a Top 40s hit that dinosaurs danced to at the malt shop. It was called "Land of a Thousand Dances," and the lyrics were, oh, You gotta know how to Pony, like Bony Marony, Do the Mashed Potato...right—you got it. Okay, you have a snowman and a paper mouse in a lowdown bar, and they're diving under a table when the air ride siren goes off, alerting everybody that several dozen thermonuclear devices have them triangulated. I like that word; it sounds mildly pornographic, and how would you like to have mere seconds before these H-bombs came raining down on your head?

"...and Germany is drunk and metric." Love this! There's something about that word "metric." It seems random, and yet it conveys so much. But what does it convey? I'm not sure...
Thanks. I spent a lot of time toying with "drunk and metric" and "metric and and drunk." In the beginning, "drunk and metric" felt more like a song lyric. It still did at the end. It's silly, of course, but I strove for silliness throughout.

I can't help but ask: What's your favorite beer?
Guinness Stout. If I were thinking domestic-only and being all patriotic, plain old Bud.

This issue marks SmokeLong's fifth anniversary, which has me thinking about longevity and growth. There's no denying the literary arena is a fickle one, with journals coming and going, writers shooting onto the scene then falling into a long hiatus, editors changing houses, agents merging, and the trends! Don't even get me started! How do you, as a writer, endure the ups and downs? Have you experienced any setbacks? What measures have you taken to grow?
I'm not sure this is a "setback," but I haven't submitted anything (besides "Mouse") for quite a while. Plus: I've been ill, so I have an excuse to fall back on. Right now, though, I have a novel nearly written (first draft); I'm collaborating with a fellow Zoetrooper on a short story having to do with Viet Nam; I'm collaborating with a cousin on a fantasy novel for young adults. Plug: Please subscribe to Writers Market online for $3.99 per month. It's a terrific resource.

Read Paper Mouse.

Issue Twenty-One (June 15, 2008): Paper Mouse by Bob Arter «» The Folk Singer Dreams of Time Machines by Matt Bell «» The Bone Orchard by Randall Brown «» Disease Relics by Blake Butler «» We Decided to Make Porn by Brian Allen Carr «» The Baby Drop-Off by Natascia Casey-Dean «» The Cougar by Dave Clapper «» Anointed by Myfanwy Collins «» Sister Earth by John Colvin «» Soap by Katrina Denza «» The Interpretation of Light by Murray Dunlap «» The Hole by Ashley Farmer «» Repair Man by Kathy Fish «» In the Kitchen She Wakes by Stefanie Freele «» American Gothic by Scott Garson «» Lobster Girl by Alicia Gifford «» Pen and Notebook by Natalie Goldberg «» Memento Mori by Rosanne Griffeth «» BiC by Steven Gullion «» Parting by Evelyn Hampton «» Tuesday by Lindsay Hunter «» Waiting on Lombard Street by W.P. Kinsella «» Johnny by Nance Knauer «» Like Swimming by Jeff Landon «» Feeling Sad by Darby Larson «» Alone With Cooper by Ellen Meister «» The Angel's Visitation by Corey Mesler «» South Dakota by Mary Miller «» California Fruit by Meg Pokrass «» Home Made by Bruce Holland Rogers «» Handful of Dirt by Jim Ruland «» Steam City Girl by Paul Silverman «» Sugar by Claudia Smith «» The 13th Toast by Amy Sparks «» Gathering by Kelly Spitzer «» Tiny Shadows by Maryanne Stahl «» Double-Exposure by Thomas White «» Epistemology by Joseph Young «» Why This Isn't a Good Story to Tell by Shellie Zacharia «» Liquid by Michelle Zellers «» Real Estate by Bonnie ZoBell «» Interviews: Bob Arter «» Matt Bell «» Randall Brown «» Blake Butler «» Brian Allen Carr «» Natascia Casey-Dean «» Dave Clapper «» Myfanwy Collins «» John Colvin «» Katrina Denza «» Murray Dunlap «» Ashley Farmer «» Kathy Fish «» Stefanie Freele «» Scott Garson «» Alicia Gifford «» Rosanne Griffeth «» Steven Gullion «» Evelyn Hampton «» Lindsay Hunter «» Nance Knauer «» Jeff Landon «» Darby Larson «» Ellen Meister «» Corey Mesler «» Mary Miller «» Meg Pokrass «» Bruce Holland Rogers «» Jim Ruland «» Paul Silverman «» Claudia Smith «» Amy Sparks «» Kelly Spitzer «» Maryanne Stahl «» Thomas White «» Joseph Young «» Shellie Zacharia «» Michelle Zellers «» Bonnie ZoBell «» Cover Art "Five Years of SmokeLong" compiled from art by Marty D. Ison, Robert Dornberg, Malina, and Rebecca Gullickson «» Letter From the Editor
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