Smoking With Molly Giles

by Tara Laskowski Read the Story July 25, 2010

You describe seahorses so well in this. Do you have any? Or have you visited many aquariums?

I like aquariums, zoos, museums, shrines (have gone to Graceland twice) etc., and have no trouble playing tourist in public places, especially when I am one. The jewel-like sea horses in my story were observed at a lovely small dark aquarium in Baltimore. I’d escaped from a writing conference to go there.

I love stories that hint at some trouble, but don’t spell it out. Did you have this trouble in mind when you started the story, or did it evolve as you were writing?

While there, I saw a middle-aged, drably dressed woman rap the glass with her wedding ring. I got the idea of the story from that. So the “trouble” was given to me. I mouthed “thank you” to the universe and went back to my hotel room to draft it.

What is your proudest writing achievement so far?

I am proudest of my novel, “Iron Shoes,” basically because it was so very hard for me to write it. I’m a short story writer; novels drain me. I want to kill all the characters off after 10 pages. I’m working on the sequel to “Iron Shoes” now, and it’s a slow go. I have to remind myself that it was just as hard the first time. I am genuinely surprised writing has not gotten easier. But it has not.

What are you reading, listening to, watching right now that you love?

I just finished reading a wonderful short novel, recently reprinted, “A Month in the Country” by J.L. Carr. I am also reading a collection of Mavis Gallant’s short stories. I loved “Olive Kitteridge” and gave copies to all three of my daughters. I go to at least one movie a week, thought the Coen Brothers “A Serious Man” was pretty good and enjoyed the new “Karate Kid” far more than was seemly for someone my age. Last semester I had to hurry back from the university to watch “Project Runway,” and I was also hooked, horribly, on “New York Housewives.” (This is definitely too-much-information, I know.) I am torn between eloping with Leonard Cohen or Steve Earle and the last CD I bought and listen to constantly was Salif Keita’s “Papa.”

In what other ways besides writing are you most creative?

If I could do anything besides write, I would. But I can’t.

About the Author:

Molly Giles is the author of four award-winning story collections and a novel. She has recent and forthcoming fictions in Bellevue Literary Journal, Foglifter, Juked, West Marin Review, Willow Springs, and Zyzzyva.

About the Interviewer:

Tara Laskowski has been editor at SmokeLong Quarterly since 2010. Her short story collection Bystanders was hailed by Jennifer Egan as "a bold, riveting mash-up of Hitchcockian suspense and campfire-tale chills." She is also the author of Modern Manners For Your Inner Demons, tales of dark etiquette. Her fiction has been published in the Norton anthology Flash Fiction International, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Mid-American Review, and numerous other journals, magazines, and anthologies. Tara lives and works in a suburb of Washington, D.C.