Smoking With Kara Vernor

by Brandon Wicks Read the Story March 25, 2013

As a reader, I’m not normally drawn to stories in the second person. However, your piece moves quickly into a very specific and well rendered character for “you.” Why the second person for this story? What do you feel it accomplishes or achieves? (Or allows the narrator to accomplish?)

I wasn’t conscious of choosing it, but I’m guessing that’s what came up because the urge to run away, to go somewhere different to fix what’s broken, seems universal. Who hasn’t at one time thought about up and leaving? The “you” acknowledges that most readers share this with the narrator, and it invites empathy for her, her hopes, her need to flee.

The frustration and disappointment felt in the story is also infused with a great sense of humor. I particularly enjoy the intentionality of the universe, how the icy ocean “couldn’t care less about red swimsuits. It says fuck you red swimsuit, I am busy tearing at land. I will tear until I reach the Atlantic.” How frequently do you find yourself using humor in your fiction? How important do you see it in terms of understanding character and desire?

Thanks! I think humor does serve to quickly reveal character, especially when it exposes flaws, but I mainly use it to temper the heavy themes I usually write about. Without humor, many of my stories would just be sad. The humor makes them tolerable.

“David Hasselhoff” ends on a resonant image. It’s a great open moment, but I’m curious: Would you want the main character to stay or go? Why?

Stay, definitely, and specifically to get it on with Mike. He’s hot and nice. If I were her, I’d be all over that.

Despite the main character’s disappointment with California (and the reality she’s confronted with), in some ways, she finds what she really needs, as Mike demonstrates: a nexus of people like her, of real “found” people who know each other, who share personal connections. In your own experience, what are some of your favorite places where lost-and-found people congregate?

I love this question. My favorites would have to be: small towns, Okkervil River concerts, Alaska, writers’ gatherings, the Big Island, bars.

Lastly, what’s been one of the most hyped expectations—and therefore biggest letdowns—of your life so far?

Losing my virginity of course.

About the Author:

Kara Vernor lives in Napa. Her stories have appeared in Necessary Fiction, Wigleaf, Hobart online, The Los Angeles Review and elsewhere. She has been a fiction fellow at the Mendocino Coast Writer's Conference and has a story forthcoming in Monkeybicycle.

About the Interviewer:

Brandon Wicks is the associate editor for special projects at SmokeLong Quarterly. He is a freelance writer and illustrator based in Philadelphia. His debut novel, American Fallout, will be published by Santa Fe Writers Project in 2016. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Pembroke Magazine, Potomac Review, Sou'wester, and other journals.