Smoking With Brandon Hobson

Read the Story March 15, 2004

Writers are often challenged to write “outside their own skin.” Did you find it challenging to write from the Point-of-View in this story?

Originally this story was written in third-person, but I kept thinking something wasn’t right, that it didn’t feel like it had any sort of redemptive quality. It felt too unattached and resoundingly unempathetic—you know, when I was in grad school I used to see this type of story in workshops, and I usually cringed, so I thought this particular story had to be done in a different or somehow new or fresh way. Second-person narration seemed, at least at the time, to be more intimate than, say, first-person. As a reader I would think first-person narration here would be overly sympathetic and puerile. A second-person P.O.V. allowed me to not mention the teen’s gender and (hopefully) get away with it, because I think the gender, in this case, is of little or no importance.

As the old adage goes “Write what you know.” How much of you is in this story?

If your question is related to something along the lines of, say, do I fully understand what it’s like to be in a situation like this…then all I can say is that I used to work as a counselor in a juvenile detention center, so I’ve heard my share of horror stories, believe me.

What inspired this story? Who inspires you to write?

I’m still in social work, so I hear stories all the time that I find inspiring. I have this little notebook where I write things down that stay with me throughout the day. In terms of writers who inspire me, I like David Foster Wallace, Stewart O’Nan, Lorrie Moore, Lydia Davis, Nabokov.

What attracted you to flash fiction vs. other forms of writing?

I always wanted to write really short fiction after reading Diane Williams and Lydia Davis, two writers who totally floor me. Maybe also Ben Marcus. I’m amazed at how well they pull it off in such a short, aesthetic narrative.

If you couldn’t write, what would be your creative outlet?

When I’m not writing, I’m usually reading or watching The Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense on DVD. I’ve gotten pretty good at healing myself by slapping my forehead with a palm, David Byrne style, the way he does during “Once in a lifetime.” Other than that, I tend to walk around my apartment and read stuff out loud—not just my own work, but books, poetry or novels. Former girlfriends found this more than a little bit creepy, let me tell you. But I’m single, and I now live alone with my dog, so he doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, he sometimes even shakes my hand.

About the Author:

Brandon Hobson received his M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. His work has appeared in print in The Southern Anthology 1996; Diagram: An Anthology (Edited by Ander Monson, Del Sol Press, 2003); Sleepingfish; and online in 3am Magazine, Word Riot, Surgery of Modern Warfare, Diagram, and 2River View. He has completed a novel and lives in Oklahoma with his dog.