Smoking with Pam Mosher

Read the Story December 15, 2006

A character’s desire, it’s said, drives narrative into being. But little is said about a writer’s desire. What desire of yours drove this amazing story into existence?

A friend had read a different story I’d written, and mentioned that my character in that story seemed too nice to be believed. I think I was responding to that and searching for something more honest about human nature. And I wrote the story very quickly, in one sitting, without any self-editing.

That rusty red Olds. You have such a wonderful mastery of metaphor. How important are such central metaphors to this piece?—your other flash pieces?—and flash in general?

The rusty red Olds came to me as an image, actually, and as you’ve probably gathered from my first answer, I didn’t consciously manipulate much in this flash for meaning. Sometimes, the most fun thing about writing is the surprises that you discover after you’ve written a piece.

What’s the difference between the girl coming-of-age story and the boy’s version? What myths must be debunked about these journeys?

The danger of writing fiction about teenagers is that it’s such well-trod ground. Most teenagers in this culture go through similar painful experiences, and stories about teenagers can become a minefield of clichés. The challenge in writing about them is to see the common experience in a new way.

Word on street is that you are working on a teen novel. Any exclusive behind-the-scenes information you can share with us?

I spent last year finishing a first draft and am now in the painful process of throwing a lot of that work away. I’m rewriting more or less from scratch. This second draft is more fun to write, though, because I’ve learned so much. It hasn’t been a very efficient approach. But I’ve thought about this world and these characters for so long that they have become amazingly real in my mind.

The 2005 Edge Annual World Question (www.edge.org) asked a question that the BBC called “fantastically stimulating.” One year later, we ask you this same question: “What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?”

Solitary as it is, there is something about writing and reading fiction—some sense of connection—that can’t be reached in any other way.

About the Author:

Pam Mosher's fiction has appeared in Ink Pot, Summerset Review, Pindeldyboz, FRiGG and other publications. Her story "The Pinwheel" was chosen as a Notable Short Story for 2005 by Story South Magazine.

About the Artist:

René Magritte was a Belgian surrealist artist (21 November 1898 - 15 August 1967).