Smoking With Arwen Dewey

Read the Story December 15, 2007

Christian folk, a high-dive, Jennie Dean, Billie Rae, Ike’s pasture. In what part of the country do you envision this story taking place?

The story takes place in an unspecific part of the US, loosely based on descriptions my old college buddies used to give of life in small-town Georgia.

“…Jennie Dean is larger than life.” Here is a girl who knows how to capture an audience. She’s confident, unshakeable, as you say. She climbs up that high dive as if there’s nothing to it, as if she’s a ghost, a space alien, magic, perhaps even Jesus himself. Does she actually believe in her ability to fly, or is she play-acting?

I enjoyed wondering about that while working on the story. Let’s just say I’m not sure even Jennie Dean knows whether she’s play-acting or not.

As a reader, what type of characters capture your imagination?

I like quirky, unexpected characters that surprise me repeatedly while still reminding me of myself or other real-life people I know.

SLQ is honored to publish your first story. Tell us about the road you took from When You First Started Writing, to When You First Started Submitting Your Work, to Your First Published Story. Was it straight and wide-open? Twisted and narrow? Dirt-packed? A Nascar type speed-way?

I started writing stories at around age three, and have wanted to “be a writer when I grow up” ever since then. Of course, I also wanted to be an astronaut… But I always wrote: stories, essays, poems, even novels. So the writer’s path is one I’ve been traipsing down for a long time. The road to being a published writer isn’t one I’ve tried with as much consistency, but I’ve become more serious about it in the past two years. So far the road is rocky, but it’s a great adventure as long as I can remember not to take the potholes too hard!

SLQ completed issue 18 at the close of summer and launched this issue, 19, on the threshold of winter. During the three months in between, the crops were harvested, the leaves fell, the rain returned, temperatures dropped, darkness lengthened. Death in increments. How does the turning of the seasons affect your “muse,” your inspiration?

I’m always inspired by the way the changing seasons create new and often shockingly different scenes around us. There you are, walking down the same old street, and suddenly something has changed: the light, the colors, what’s on the ground, what’s falling down on you, and maybe you’re unexpectedly freezing cold, or breaking out in a sweat. Seasons are nature’s brutally direct way of suggesting that we look at the world around us differently, a reminder to not take the way things are for granted. Following that suggestion can be a terrific source of ideas and inspiration.

About the Author:

When not writing, Arwen Dewey spends her time singing 17th-century lute music and bicycling. This is her first fiction publication. She lives in Southern Oregon.

About the Artist:

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison's work here.