“Language that crackles on the page”: An Interview with Guest Reader Dana Diehl

by Tara Laskowski See all Guest Readers
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What’s your favorite thing about editing fiction? And what are the biggest challenges/downers?

I love the sense of discovery I feel while editing fiction. Sifting through manuscripts is like going on a road trip without a map. For two years, I was an editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review. The hardest part was how many stories were technically good but ultimately felt very familiar. These were hard to turn down, because I could tell the authors had talent and just hadn’t yet found that thing that made their stories spark.

Tell us about your upcoming story collection. It sounds amazing.

Thank you! Our Dreams Might Align is a collection of fifteen stories that I wrote over the course of four years. My goal in many of these stories was to explore how our relationships with the environment reflect or enlighten our relationships with one another. In these stories, you’ll find a lot of sea creatures, insects, and geology metaphors. I am so, so grateful to Justin Daugherty and Matt Fogarty at Jellyfish Highway Press for giving this collection life. You can buy copies here.

What kind of story are you hoping to find in our queue during your reading week?

My favorite writing makes me want to write. During my reading week, I’ll be looking for stories that send me running to my notebook with inspiration. I’ll be looking for stories with language that crackles on the page, images that blend the familiar and the surprising. I’ll be looking for stories that are not afraid to lean into what makes them a little weird.

You’re instantly rich and famous and appearing on Celebrity Jeopardy! Which charity are you playing for?

This is such a great question! I would play for Bridge Rescue For Dogs, Inc, a group in Tucson that provides foster homes for dogs in need until they’re able to find forever homes. For about a year and a half, I fostered for Bridge. I’ve only recently stopped fostering, because I decided to adopt the dog I’ve had for several months (she’s become such an important part of my little family that I can’t imagine parting with her). Most of the dogs Bridge fosters are pit bull mixes on the euthanasia list at local shelters. Bridge provides the dogs with agility and behavioral training to make them more adoptable. I love that this group takes challenging pups and less popular breeds and gives them a second chance. If this all sounds good, you can donate here.

About the Reader:

Dana Diehl's work has appeared or is forthcoming in Passages North, New South, Booth, and elsewhere. Her first short story collection, Our Dreams Might Align, is available from Jellyfish Highway Press.

About the Interviewer:

Tara Laskowski has been editor at SmokeLong Quarterly since 2010. Her short story collection Bystanders was hailed by Jennifer Egan as "a bold, riveting mash-up of Hitchcockian suspense and campfire-tale chills." She is also the author of Modern Manners For Your Inner Demons, tales of dark etiquette. Her fiction has been published in the Norton anthology Flash Fiction International, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Mid-American Review, and numerous other journals, magazines, and anthologies. Tara lives and works in a suburb of Washington, D.C.