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Smoking With Jen Michalski

smoke 6 colours by aubergene
"smoke 6 colours" by aubergene,
via Creative Commons license
Fear is transferred from grandmother to grandchild in this story, even though the grandchild did not directly experience the events of the war. Is the right to fear something that has to be earned?
That's a great question. I think the legitimacy of fear should probably be left to the individual, not judged by others, although I concur that someone who served in a war or lived in a war zone would probably have a more acute fear of having to experience another conflict. Ultimately, however, I think how we respond to fear, our own as well as others', dictates how we navigate our own social contract. If we know people who have suffered and fear this suffering ourselves as a result, if we're healthy, empathetic people, we do all we can to not cause such suffering in others.

The dead woman in the tree transforms in this story from a victim that women laugh at to a menace that bites. How do you account for that transformation?
This was an interesting part of the story for me, ie, how people deal with their fears. The women who spotted the dead body took sort of a perverse pleasure in further victimizing it, empowering themselves in this way. But the narrator gives power to the victim instead. It is only by eating the radishes at the end that she is able to gain insight, acceptance and, hopefully, her own power.

Much of this story is told in a habitual tense versus specific presence or past. Can you describe how you ended up using that tense and what problems, if any, you faced while bringing the story to life given the unspecific time?
The voice just seemed right for the character. As a child, you tend to have more of an dichotomous, absolute view of things, and this tense sort of lends itself to the rigidity of that worldview.

You have a short story collection, Close Encounters, available through So New Media. What has that experience been like and what are your plans for future projects?
Working with So New has been great. I'm proud to be part of such a great lineup of writers (David Barringer, Amy Guth, Jackie Corley, Savannah Schroll Guz). Working with a small press, you tend to wear a lot of hats and learn a lot about publishing as a result, and I've been grateful for that, too Right now I'm shopping around a novella and a second short story collection. I'm also hoping to finish a novel. And we're continuing to try and bring the best authors through our lit zine jmww (http://150m.com) to the public.

Read Roots.

Issue Twenty-Four (March 18, 2009): Barista by Sarah Black «» Night Vision by Edmond Caldwell «» Star Man by Bill Cook «» Bluegills by Thomas Cooper «» Seattle Gymnopédie by Scott Garson «» One Night at Crobar by Shane Goth «» Scrapple by Tiff Holland «» What If The Dungeon Closes by Tim Jones-Yelvington «» Toes by Darby Larson «» The Hamster by Tara Laskowski «» Dirtclouds by Charles Lennox «» Moat by Ravi Mangla «» A Witnessing at the K&W Cafeteria by Heather McDonald «» Roots by Jen Michalski «» I Use Commas like Ninja Stars by Sam Nam «» Turtle Creek by Gregory Napp «» Prey by Susannah Pabot «» By Saturday, We'd Be Singing by John Riley «» At the Foot of the Mountain by Ania Vesenny «» Interviews: Sarah Black «» Edmond Caldwell «» Bill Cook «» Thomas Cooper «» Scott Garson «» Shane Goth «» Tiff Holland «» Tim Jones-Yelvington «» Darby Larson «» Tara Laskowski «» Charles Lennox «» Ravi Mangla «» Heather McDonald «» Jen Michalski «» Sam Nam «» Gregory Napp «» Susannah Pabot «» John Riley «» Ania Vesenny «» Cover Art "No. 41 - 2007" by Marty D. Ison «» Letter From the Editor
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