Smoking With Ravi Mangla

Read the Story March 29, 2015

“Moat” has delightful absurdity. Where did you get this idea and do you have more? Where does this absurdness come from? A historical perspective please?
The story behind ‘Moat’… I was on my way to the Rochester Museum & Science Center to check out some dead dinosaurs. Backing out of the driveway, I remember seeing this little girl* and her mother walking up and down the street in search of a birthday party. (I would have helped them, but I don’t know the neighborhood/neighbors very well.) I plotted out the story on the drive and wrote it in the RM&SC parking lot. I’d wanted to write a story involving a moat for a while. So in this particular case, the absurdity came from juxtaposing two unrelated ideas and figuring out a point of intersection.

And, yes! I have more ideas like this one.

* The little girl wasn’t broad or awkward or anything like that. She’d probably be pretty pissed off by my reimagining.

The little girl is dropped off at a stranger’s house. Why this particular house? Why this character?
Yikes. I don’t know. The two characters seemed like an interesting duo. Everything felt like a natural choice when I was writing it.

Giving the little girl a shovel to dig a moat is quite an unexpected development in this story. How important is the unexpected to you?
Very important. It’s no fun knowing what happens next. I used the phrase “natural choice” in the last answer, which seems to conflict with the unpredictable nature of the story, but these odd turns do feel very natural when I’m working on a story. The unexpected happens every day.

What writers inspire you and why?
Recently, I’ve been pretty enamored with the work of Sam Lipsyte, Yannick Murphy, and Charles Simic. All three are incredible marksmen with their words, which is a quality in writing I find particularly inspiring. Also, Sam Lipsyte is funny as hell, another inspiring attribute.

Where do you write? When, why, and how?
I can’t sit and write. I have to be in motion—walking, jogging, driving, lifting weights, playing music, doing yoga. I carry around a lot of scrap paper. First thing in the morning, I type everything out from the previous day.

Writing clears my head. It evens me out.

About the Author:

Ravi Mangla lives in Fairport, NY. His short fiction has recently appeared online at Sleepingfish, FRiGG, LITnIMAGE, mental_floss, and is forthcoming in One World: A Global Anthology of Short Stories (New Internationalist).