Smoking With Lesley C. Weston

Read the Story June 15, 2005

We love love love your writing style. How would you describe your prose?

I am usually tongue-tied when it comes to describing any prose, let alone my own, but I’ll take a deep breath and give it a try… My prose style results from the battle between my love of languorous, poetic word constructions and the taut lines of energy in actions. A setting description, for instance, may tend alarmingly towards purple prose but when a character enters the scene their rhythm and language takes hold, usually paring down the choices. Thankfully, most of my writing is character driven and the actions of the characters, and their voices keep me in line.

This piece, much as a poem does, revolves around a strong central image, in this case that of “the bird tree.” Where do you find such images?

Oh, this question is easy! Thank you. I walk around with my eyes and ears open. Bird trees are all around us, even in the heart of the cities. What constantly amazes me is the number of people who pass by them without noticing them.

You describe the birds as a “cloud of black whirling away.” Does such amazingly wonderful phrases come out fully formed (in which case I will have to find you and hurt you)—or is there hard, painful work involved (in which case you have my full sympathies).

Please, don’t hurt me! I cut more than I agonize—if I remember correctly “a cloud of black whirling away” popped out as is, but it was originally either proceeded or followed by “a dervish of wings”—so my hard painful work is not usually in forming the phrases so much as getting rid of a few.

How does “creating characters on the page” compare to creating them on the stage?

No one has ever rejected my writing because I was taller than the leading man they’d chosen. Sorry! Seriously, creating on a page and on a stage are both “inside jobs”, but there are many less limitations between the pen and paper than between my all to human bones and the footlights. There is a fierce joy in creating characters that I could never play on a stage, there are nuances possible that can only be fully formed between the minds of the writer and the reader—no camera could catch them, no audience on the third tier balcony could see or hear them. There is the intimate partnership that only the direct exchange of the written word can offer. Don’t get me wrong, I love and admire good acting, wonderful costumes, but they always suffer under limitations that don’t exist in writing.

What are you reading?—watching?—listening to? Any recommendations? Any influences sneaking into your work?

What am I reading? Well, loads and loads of short stories and flash fiction by a wide variety of struggling writers in the workshops I am involved with, as well as pounds of literary magazines both print and on line. Hard and soft covered books? I just finished reading Reservation Road by John Burnham Schwartz, Life of Pi by Yann Martel, and The Cabin by David Mamet—couldn’t really have picked much more different styles, but loved all three of them. I hope Schwartz’s wonderful use of shifting POV will seep into my subconscious. Yann’s immense imagination has certainly seeped into my dreams—tigers have made many appearances this week! Hopefully, Mamet’s spare, direct style will help me keep a critical eye on my own work. Watching is harder—I hate to admit it in public but I’ve been watching all of the CDs of Star Trek, Next Generation, in order, for the last month. A most disturbing vice, I know. And if anyone is interested in an amazing musician, I stumbled upon a young man named Jeremiah Lockwood and his music is an unlikely and utterly fantastic form of Klezmer influenced Blues.

About the Author:

Lesley C. Weston was consumed by theater for years and now finds meaning in creating characters with the pen instead of the stage.

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.