Smoking With Katy Gunn

by Brandon Wicks Read the Story March 26, 2012

Tell us how this story came about.

I was interested in the special “things” between people—relationships that can feel almost tangible, or like a third party that is always present. Especially relationships that get bulky enough to stumble over.

I enjoy how the Madness becomes so concrete as a character that it leaves the realm of metaphor—it eats the women’s shoes, gets bathed, and reacts beautifully to its coming-of-age party. Was this your intent from the beginning or was it a decision you discovered while drafting and revising the piece?

I’ve been told otherwise, but I think it was a logical direction. Even the most static relationships aren’t static. They’re always being altered by small things. The madness in this story changes with the changes between Ruth Ann and Ira.

I was also delighted that the Madness, described as rodent-like, also has “an old-man nose.” How or why did you come to visualize it this way?

I tried really hard not to visualize it entirely. I wanted it to stay sort of mysterious, since it does belong only to Ruth Ann and Ira. They’re the only ones who can see it, and they spend a lot of time choosing not to. And it’s always changing. Later it gets a proboscis, a backpack, and an antler. It really loves the antler.

I would, too. Lastly, there’s room to read the relationship between Ruth Ann and Ira in at least two ways here: as platonic roomies or as a couple fraught with the desire (or conflict) to have children. What’s their backstory?

They’re a couple, and fraught, yes. This piece is the first section in a larger project that watches them break apart. The madness has not grown to full size, as Ruth Ann hopes. There’s a lot more of it for her to contend with later on.

About the Author:

Katy Gunn is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Alabama. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Super Arrow, Alice Blue Review, elimae, and The Offending Adam, among others.

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.