Smoking With Randall Brown

Read the Story December 15, 2004

Okay, Randall, we have to ask… what was the inspiration for this strange and wonderful story?

I was at dinner with friends and family and someone mentioned the time a yeast infection cream led to her vagina swelling to six times its normal size. And then she talked about her childhood neighbors who had strange tin foil packets in their freezer. I got two stories out of that dinner. And some images I’ll never ever be able to erase from my memory bank.

Speaking of being frank, can you reveal what was in those phallic-shaped freezer packs?

Phallic-shaped? I thought they were banana-shaped. What’s going on in that sick little mind of yours, Ellen? I’m shocked.

Okay, we’ll change the subject and try to keep phallic symbols out of it. A while back you were Guest Editor at SmokeLong, and now you’re coming back as a full-time editor. An easy decision?

Dave offered to tell me his secret to keeping one’s lover/wife sexually satisfied. Strangely, it involved banana-shaped freezer packs. Hmmm…

Hmm, indeed. Now tell us, what’s the best thing about being an editor? What’s the worst?

When Frodo puts the ring on in LOTR, he disappears. That’s a pretty cool image. But I don’t care. I love the POWER of editorship, and if I have to disappear the more times I wield it, well that’s fine, because I never liked myself all that much anyways.

What’s the worst? Rejecting a story that obviously meant a great deal to the writer.

Assuming that every now and then even Randall Brown gets a story rejected, can you tell us how you handle the process and keep at it?

You want the numbers. A total of 53 stories have been submitted, some more than once, for a total of 242 submissions. There have been 185 rejections. It helps to enjoy rejection. It brings back memories of my childhood. Many of them pleasant.

I am noticing a pattern to these rejections: 1. Don’t send such a story to us. There’s no chance we’d publish anything like it. 2. Sorry. We’ve decided to accept fiction only from Midwestern African-American lesbians. 3. We can’t possibly read another story. Sorry. 4. It’s not you; it’s us. I’m sure you’ll find that special someone somewhere. 5. We think you can write. Write us again. Maybe next time. Or the time after that. You never know. 6. Next time you think of sending your necrophilia story to a journal, you might have a better chance if it weren’t a journal for homeschooled religious right pre-schoolers. Just a thought. 7. We regret that we can’t publish your work. In fact, our heart aches that we can’t. But we can’t. As much as it pains us to say so. We just can’t. 8. You missed it by a month. We just had a theme issue on psychotic, shed-dwelling men who have begun to smell like fish. Your story would’ve been perfect. Too bad. 9. We only read during alternate Thursdays from August 8th until August 27th, unless it’s an odd year, then it’s Wednesdays, from May 14th until May 24th, unless it’s a leap year, during which we read on the first Sunday after an October harvest moon. 10. Another editor may well snap up this story. That is our sincere wish. That another editor—not one of ours—finds your story acceptable. Best of luck in writing, loving, and living.

About the Author:

Randall Brown is on the faculty of Rosemont College’s MFA in Creative Writing Program. He has been published widely, both online and in print. He earned his MFA at Vermont College.

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.