SmokeLong Quarterly
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Smoking With Nance Knauer

You guest edited issue 3, then joined the SmokeLong staff for issues 4, 5, and 7. What do you, as an editor, look for in a story? What about your own story, "Johnny," fits this criterion?
I look for short, vivid strokes that define character and setting along with understated emotion, something that lets the reader feel what the character wants without pointing to it directly. I think "Johnny" gets the emotion across, but not the life behind it.

Strong beginning! I especially love that cracks appeared in the angel's folded hands and under the wings. How do you know when you've nailed an opening?
Ha! The only thing I know about beginnings is when I don't nail it.

I like how subtle this piece is. I can't say for sure who the angel represents, or why it's such a source of contention between Johnny and his wife, but every time I read this story, I think I find a new clue.
That's a good point. If readers don't know what the character wants, or why, by the second read of a story, then I'm not doing my job. I'm still learning how to let the people in my work carry more of the weight than the symbols.

You've just about completed your MFA from Queens, right? Is that a low residency program?
Thanks, yes, I'm done! Queens University in Charlotte, NC, is run by Fred Leebron and Mike Kobre and is the only low residency program which includes distance workshops as part of their program. I'm one of those people who believe the MFA experience is valuable and sometimes necessary in order to evolve as a writer.

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 am so grateful and so in awe of the folks like SmokeLong and FRiGG who continue to give us a place to display our work. Most of my ups and downs and setbacks have been confidence related. I've submitted very little, but that will change this fall which means lots of stumbling to come. How to endure the ups and downs? I just try and remember what an honor it is to be able to write every day. If that's not working, I read like a maniac.

Read Johnny.

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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