Smoking with Nance Knauer

Read the Story September 15, 2003

The prosthetic leg! Where did the idea for this come from?

I’d like to say the idea for the character with the prosthetic leg came to me in a blinding “flash,” but in truth, she did live above me, and a wilder woman I would search long and hard to find. How much is truth and how much is fiction? Just like her life, it’s hard to tell.

How do you feel about Flash versus other literary forms?

Been doing a lot of thinking about flash lately. I see it as both an exercise and an art form that helps to not only tighten my writing, but allows me to experiment within a prescribed structure, encourages me to use a few words to create a whole new rhythm. It means taking that old phrase to heart, “In other words, to make a long story short,” all of which helps inject energy into longer works.

What time of day do you find best for writing? Why?

Writing time depends on the process. If it’s brainstorming, any time at all works. That includes while talking to my mother-in-law, while standing in line at the bus stop, or even while sitting in the dentist’s chair. The trick is to first, find something to write on, and second, explain to people no, your meds haven’t worn off, you’re a writer. If it’s lyrical, dreamy passages I’m in search of, then it’s that stage between half asleep and half awake. The actual pounding of the keys, when the story finally appears, comes later in the day, usually much later than I would like, and quite often, not until 3 in the morning when my inner critic finally dozes off. Revision time is whenever I’m at my sharpest, which is that five or ten minutes between not enough and too much caffeine.

Are there any authors that inspire you? Or particular books that you love?

Authors who inspire me, how to choose only a few? A. L. Kennedy would be at the top, and I would point you to Everything You Need, except that for reasons I can’t articulate, her little nonfiction treatise called On Bullfighting keeps haunting me. Janice Galloway in her novel, The Trick Is to Keep Breathing, helps me remember that words paint pictures and the mind, even at its darkest, is beautiful beyond belief. Kirsty Gunn and Chris Offut. I read them to place myself in the landscape, to stand in one spot, feet on the ground, face to the wind, and find the horizon.

Anything else you’d like to get off your chest?

I have nothing to get off my chest, but to be on the safe side, I’m seeing my dermatologist later in the week.

About the Author:

Nance Knauer is a transplanted southerner who gathers wool all day and knits it together all night. Published at The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, now dealing with the fame of it all.

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.