Smoking With Melanie Ann Campbell

Read the Story June 15, 2004

You’ve recently retired to the country. Could you tell us more about that experience and what/how your writing has been affected?

A move from a wild city to the sparsely populated country is similar to stepping from a bed of hot coals into a tub filled with ice water. I heard snow fall and understood the concert of insect songs. The effect on my writing became the gift of time; a harmony within myself because I could dispense with the guilt about stealing minutes for my creative soul and allow myself to savor the full experience of writing.

Dark and lonely images. Is this a style you normally explore?

Because I began writing a few months ago, after a thirty year hiatus, I haven’t settled into a style or genre. When an illusive ‘something’ triggers a story idea, I allow it full liberty. This story grew from an invasion of our backyard by two stray dogs. At the time I was home alone and our small dog wanted to challenge their rights to her yard. That night I dreamt about a lonely old woman coping with a pack of stray dogs. I awoke from the dream, rushed to the computer and the story wrote itself.

How long have you been writing and what stories are your favorites?

After college I knew fate meant me to become a famous author; but, fickle-fate delayed this event. My husband became seriously ill and I had to work in the ‘normal’ world to care for our three children. During the seventies, I wrote a weekly one thousand word newspaper column
called ‘Tidbits’. A mélange of gossip, opinions, current events and more opinions. For this venture, I earned nothing, except the gratitude of a tired editor and publisher. Among my favorite stories is a collection by Isaac Bashevis Singer. Every story he wrote, I cherish.

What authors do you return to again and again?

Agatha Christie because she gave birth to Miss Marple. Ann McCaffrey and her Dragon series, in which she created a complete society. Harlan Ellison, Frank Herbert, Kurt Vonnegut, Ursula LeGuin, for their daring dreams.

What do you feel flash stories accomplish that longer stories or poetry cannot?

I think Kurt Vonnegut made the statement, “If it doesn’t move the story forward don’t include it”. Within a flash, every word and the structure of each sentence has to move the story forward. This is their challenge to the writer and their reward for the reader.

About the Author:

At age sixty, Melanie Ann Campbell discovered a new 'hobby,' writing and since then, could not stop. Since this discovery 16 short stories have been published. Oh, by the by - she's only been that grand old age for a few months.

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.