SmokeLong Quarterly
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Smoking With Alicia Gifford

You guest edited issue 16, and you're the Fiction Editor at Night Train. What do you, as an editor, look for in a story? What about your own story, "Lobster Girl," fits this criterion?
I'm a sucker for humor, sometimes at the expense of meaning and depth. "Lobster Girl" probably reflects that.

I'm never quite sure how to interpret stories that contain unreal elements. Are they meant to be humorous? Or do they step outside the box, so to speak, in order to shine new light on human emotions and problems?
Speaking only of "Lobster Girl," humor, yes, the flamenco wannabe alien is there for humor, and also irony, in that the extra-terrestrial is kind of an on-purpose cliché. He serves to bring out Maybelline's loneliness and sense of being "other", but it wasn't necessary to use an unreal element to do that.

What sparked this crazy, fun story?
I wrote it for a Flash Flood, which is an event where a bunch of writers write flashes, post them, and then comment on them online. There were some prompts, I believe the chocolate chips were one of the prompts, and I've forgotten the rest, but I did incorporate prompts. There used to be a news anchorwoman in Los Angeles, Bree Walker, who had this deformity, ectrodactyly, and she must've been on my mind, somehow.

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 write because I enjoy it, it's stimulating and fun, and that's mainly what drives me. Rejection is discouraging and I'll say I've gotten used to it, but then something particularly disappointing happens and then I'm not so used to it. Hmmm, I have this image right now of a merry-go-round, the painted ponies enduring the ups and downs, but getting nowhere. Now I'm really depressed. Ha ha! As far as growing, I think workshops and all that stuff are valuable, anything that makes something click about craft, etc., but the best "growing" medium seems to be just reading admirable work and deconstructing as much as possible, why it works. That said, I should heave my TV out the window.

Read Lobster Girl.

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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