Smoking With Mary Miller

Read the Story December 15, 2005

“The slashes are what got me.”? Love that. How funny are you in real life? How important is humor to your own writing—and flash slash writing in general?

Those who know me well, think I’m pretty funny. I think it came from having three siblings. All of us are funny, or desperately try to be. Our specialty is the one-liner. You won’t ever hear any of us tell an actual joke. I can’t even recall a single joke I’ve ever heard. I don’t find things that are supposed to be funny very funny. In writing, I guess some appreciate humor and some don’t. I do.

You have such a terrific skill with dialogue. What’s your secret? Any tips?

Thanks. I just try to write like I speak. I say things out loud or in my head to see if they sound right. I started out writing poetry, and in poetry the way words sound is very important. So that’s my advice: say it out loud

“I don’t know what I’m doing here.”? Ha. Great ending. How about you? Do you know what you’re doing here?

Thanks. No, I never know what I’m doing. Ask anyone who’s ever been unfortunate enough to work with me.

How are things post-hurricane in Mississippi? You work in a children’s shelter there, yes? Tough these days? And graduate school! How do you do it all?

Things in Mississippi are getting back to normal. My town sustained a lot of damage because we had a Cat 1 hurricane in central MS. It’s sad. I refuse to go to the coast because I don’t want it to be real. I only work part-time and go to school part-time, so I don’t actually do all that much. Don’t let me fool you.

A new year approaches (yikes!). So, what’s the best that 2005 had to offer in literature, web sites, music, movies, television, DVD, and the like? Also, any predictions for 2006? And we’d love to hear your New Year’s resolution.

I have really bad taste in music. Lately I’ve been buying teen pop stuff. It’s awful and I thoroughly enjoy it. Mary Gaitskill had a new book out this year, Veronica, which I haven’t even finished yet, but she’s my idol. It’s wonderful so far. I don’t want to read it too fast. I don’t watch a lot of TV or movies anymore because they make me feel unproductive. Oh, Fionna Apple’s new CD is great. I don’t make predictions and I’ve given up resolutions.

About the Author:

Mary Miller attends graduate school and works at a children's shelter in Mississippi. She writes a lot.

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.