Smoke and Mirrors—An Interview with Kathryn Lipari

by Shelly Weathers Read the Story June 22, 2015

The story is a list, structurally, but a list with an arc. I’m a Libra. I can’t choose a pair of socks without an inner debate. How did you choose the list form when clearly you had options? And what story forms should fear you next?

Not sure that I did have other options: this piece grew out of a list prompt at my writing group. Driving home afterwards the title wrote itself in my mind and the rest just followed.

The sea shanty? I’m mostly a novelist. That said, this is really just a very, very short version of one of my manuscripts.

This story is effectively visceral. I checked my arms for cuts when I was done. Last night, I dreamt I burned myself. Did you experience a kind of tactile stigmata while writing it?

No, the opposite in fact—while I wrote this I felt scars disappearing.

As a writer, do you pack your stories in bags and carry them around with you for days? Do you swallow them whole and sprout them like a rogue alfalfa sprout? Do you shed them like a coat of peeling paint? Do you weep them like tears and swish the salt around for sounds? Or, do you jot them while eating lunch and texting, knowing you’re about to break us down?

All of the above. Some stories are fully formed before I put pen to paper; others, every single word is a battle.

If I’m your main character, you’ve just turned my bones into earrings, metaphorically speaking. How do I feel about you?

You’re afraid that I’m fucking with you: cradling you in my palm only to drop you again.

#12. Holy shit. Things done behind a cupped hand while the kids play at our feet. What secrets should parents take all the way to the grave?

There’s no way to keep a secret from your kids; even if they don’t ferret it out and feel compelled to keep it for you, they’ll be confused and ashamed by its long shadow.

About the Author:

Kathryn Lipari writes and reads in Portland, OR. Her short fiction has appeared in journals including Typehouse Ink, Marathon Literary Review and Women's Studies Quarterly, and is forthcoming in The Puritan and Hypertrophic Literary. A member of Full Frontal Writing Collective and, Kathryn is currently pedaling a manuscript, Run Don’t Run, and working on another—as yet, untitled.

About the Interviewer:

Shelly Weathers’ fiction has appeared in Tahoma Literary Review, Adroit, Sou’wester, Moon City Review, Timber, and elsewhere. Her work has been recognized with the 2013 Beacon Street Prize in Fiction and the 2014 John Steinbeck Short Story Award. She lives in the desert Southwest with her family.

About the Artist:

Ashley Inguanta is a former art director of SmokeLong Quarterly and author of three poetry collections: The Way Home (Dancing Girl Press, 2013), For the Woman Alone (Ampersand Books, 2014), and Bomb (Ampersand Books, 2016). Next year, Ampersand Books will publish her newest collection, The Flower, about how death shapes us.