Smoking With Manuela Silvestre

by Ashley Inguanta Read the Story March 25, 2013

How did this story begin? Tell me about how it took shape.

As simple as it sounds, it actually began with the first sentence. I can’t tell you why, but I developed this fear that I’d wake up one day to find my boyfriend’s eyebrows weren’t there. I wrote the first sentence in a new word document and saved it and it was lost in my carousel of random thoughts for a long time. I was looking for things to write this past summer, and when I came across that sentence the rest just kind of came out all at once. I edited it many times since then, added about 200 words to fill it out, but the main story was written in one sitting.

When things go missing, where do they go?

I have no idea. I like not knowing, though. When I lose anything (which happens quite often) it drives me absolutely crazy because, where can things go when they were just right in front of us? Is there an alternate world where all of our lost things are? Do we get to find out when we die? But, strangely enough, I don’t want to know where Robbie and Lila’s things go when they go missing; I think not knowing is what allows the story to be in that space Todorov called the hesitation between the marvelous and the real.

Tell me about the relief the narrator feels when Robbie’s eyebrows go missing.

I think for her his eyebrows were a point of fascination; as their relationship deteriorated it was one of the things about him she found to disapprove of.

Surprise is a very specific layer of change. How does the narrator surprise herself when she drives to “bad parts of town”?

Again, I’m not quite sure. I’m sorry about all the ambiguity! I think I’m hinting at the fact she was cheating on him, or at least I wanted the possibility to be there, for her to have done “worse things while he was sleeping.”

If you could tell Robbie one thing, what would it be?

I don’t think I’d have anything to say to Robbie.

The narrator?

I would tell her that the dog is better off. And that I’m sure she looks just fine in thongs.

About the Author:

Manuela Silvestre is a writer by night, New York University student by day. This semester she is hiding out in South America until it is no longer cold. This is her first publication.

About the Interviewer:

Ashley Inguanta is a Florida-based writer and photographer whose work has appeared in Redivider, PANK, and The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review. She is also the Art Director of SmokeLong Quarterly. In 2010, Ashley’s story “The Heart of America” earned an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train for their Very Short Fiction Award. She is a former art director of SmokeLong Quarterly and author of three poetry collections: The Way Home (Dancing Girl Press, 2013), For the Woman Alone (Ampersand Books, 2014), and Bomb (Ampersand Books, 2016). In 2019 Ampersand Books will publish her newest collection, The Flower, about how death shapes us.