Smoking With Beverly C. Lucey

Read the Story September 15, 2003

What inspired this piece?

Writing prompts. I’m a nut about them. It’s not that I can write on command, or write something I don’t want to (like a position paper to spin a crummy political decision into a brilliant move) but one of the joys of writing is the surprise element. Although there are readers who are fond of surprise endings or tricky finishes, as a writer I don’t want to set a reader up or manipulate narrative for the sake of it. No, I discover a story that would not have existed had someone not challenged me to include certain objects or images in a flash challenge. Once the story is done, if it works, the suggested elements don’t matter any more. For all I remember, before Mrs. Mitts started to live her sorry sad life, the challenge could have been: pick up truck, books, and lilacs. I honestly have no idea. But the joy comes when I get to watch what happens when a character doesn’t know I’m looking.

Why do you write?

I love words; I love stories. I think and talk in narratives. My fascination with small detail never passes. Also, I prefer to express my opinions in writing rather than just flapping my gums in a dinner party chat. That editorializing requires my non-fiction hat, which is much sturdier and more practical looking than my fiction hat. The latter hat, wide brimmed, perches precariously on top of my head and can get picked up by the wind quite easily. But it’s my favorite.

An uncanny number of writers I’ve met say they knew they would be writers right around fourth grade. What is it about fourth grade, do you think?

I don’t think it was fourth grade for me. That was Mrs. Vernon’s class and the most creative thing we did was build a papier mache volcano. Also, that was the year Janice Comeau threw up right near my seat while we were on page 64 of our geography text reading about Dutch cheese. I think the trauma of eruptions beyond my control did not set the scene for relaxing into writing. I was reading, reading, reading on my own. I don’t remember daring to write until high school. Once I did, I just kept going. Not that this activity was encouraged by anyone. Liking to write was a secret. I was dorky enough as it was.

If you discovered that you lost your magic touch with words, which persecuting hobby would you take up instead, or would you just continue on writing until it killed you?

What? What? You mean that’s a possibility? Now that’s just not a thought to entertain. After all, I have never played a team sport, I’m a klutz, I have no patience for detail regarding crafts…..never mind that one has to buy all sorts of crap to even have a hobby. I have a dear friend who is a stamping nut. She has a craft room. Thousands and thousands of dollars worth of stamps, paper, ink pads, stray ribbon, glue guns, tubes of glitter, special raggedy scissors. She’s always on a mission to find new paper punchers. It’s scary.

A life without words is not worth living. If I couldn’t write, I’d just spend more money on books and read even more. Don’t you dare ask about fading vision.

All right then! Do you have a literary website you’d like to share with us? Because it can take you anywhere you want to go. Literarily speaking.

About the Author:

Originally from New England, Beverly C. Lucey writes now from the Land of Lard and Peaches. After a lifetime in the northeast she chose to follow her husband south. Flannery O'Connor knew the line from the old song was true--A Good Man Is Hard to Find. Four stories are anthologized in We Teach Them All (Stenhouse Press, Maine) Other credits include the 1999 edition of The Flint River Review ; winter 2000 print edition of Moxie. spring edition (33) of Quality Women¹s Fiction, 2001 (UK) Wild Strawberries (Œ03) Her online presence includes Zoetrop All Story Extra, Vestal Review,, flashquake, WouldThatItWere, and Literary Pot Pourri. She lives with her husband and black standard poodles, the elegant Miss Bessie Smith and the slightly trashy Lillian deLuna. They are adapting well in a suburb outside of Little Rock, AR. Lucey loves R&B. As the other song goes, "Wild women don't get the blues." Reach her at Homepage:

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.