Smoking With Donna Gagnon

Read the Story March 15, 2005

I love this character. From where did he come?

Ah, Randall. She’s a girl. But isn’t it neat that you think it’s a man? Especially when there’s all that laundry happening at the end! I hadn’t realized until just now that this piece truly is androgynous. How cool.

You know, I really need to start doing more manly things, like maybe hunting or fishing. I saw laundry and thought “man.” Ah well. It’s interesting the way the story uses “days” as a structuring mechanism. Could you talk a little about that decision?

Time ticks. And when you’re waiting for something important to happen, something positive in a rather dreary life, it tends to go by way too slowly. One bloody day at a time.

I found the ending of your story extremely poignant—and the writing left me literally breathless. The poignant ending, I think, is a tricky thing to master. What do you think?—and do you mind sharing any secrets to getting it right?

Endings usually take me longer to write than the rest of the piece. Because no story ever really has an ending. So, I try to pick a feeling or an observation that gives a tiny bit of resolution to the moments that have gone before. A snapshot, a breath, an inkling maybe that this person’s life has changed … or is about to change.

How does the life, setting, mood, and/or atmosphere in northern Ontario creep into your writing?

Where I live, on the southwestern tip of Algonquin Park, geography and landscape is all we’ve got. There’s no industry. If we didn’t get an invasion of tourists in the summer, nobody could afford to live here at all. For most of the year, they start vacuuming the carpets in the bar at ten at night even if you’ve still got money in your pocket for more beer. Not much to do. Just lots of sky to look at, endless vistas of water and rocks and trees. If you don’t let it inspire you, allow it to permeate your gut and migrate up into your head, there’s not much else to keep you occupied. Especially in the winter.

Tell us more about your story “Walking Home” and Gatto publishing’s e-anthology, where this story will appear.

This is another landscape-inspired tale, about a young man who discovers a woman curled up on the side of the highway one winter. Gatto Publishing has accepted it for publication in their upcoming e-anthology. This is a fairly new publishing venue based in Scotland. They encourage the work of new and established writers of contemporary fiction. The proof I’ve seen of my story is very snappy. Can’t believe the perfect photo they found to illustrate it … it’s almost like somebody was looking out my front door when they took it.

About the Author:

Donna Gagnon lives in northern Ontario, Canada. Her work has been published in several now-defunct Canadian magazines and currently appears on bewrite.net and cafedoom.com. Her short story "Walking Home" will be featured in an upcoming Gatto Publishing e-anthology.

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.