Smoking With Rusty Barnes

Read the Story December 15, 2005

A truly original, arresting voice. Whence did it arrive to you? Are you full of such voices?—or must you struggle to bring them to the surface?

I’m full of something, probably, but it’s not voice. I find a character and everything else, voice, plot, what have you, follows from that. It’s no struggle when it’s going well, but only pleasure in finding out what will happen next. The struggle comes afterward, when I decide if I’ve done well enough by the character, by which I mean have I piled enough trouble on them

As this story came to a close, I had no idea where it might end. Did you? Are there alternative ending versions of this story?

I knew Buddy would go after her, bitter as he is about it. People often save marriages just because they think they ought to, and though I don’t know yet what happens after the story action in this one, I’d like to explore it someday.

How are things at Night Train?

Night Train is doing just fine, though we struggle as many journals do with funding to continue doing our thing. We were recently profiled in The Writer, and I expect that to turn into an upswing of submissions in the new year when we reopen.

What “truths” of good writing have you gleaned from the thousands of submissions you’ve read and received?

Truths of good writing? Keep the stories in the mail, keep your head up in general.

A new year approaches (yikes!). So, what’s the best that 2005 had to offer in literature, web sites, music, movies, television, DVD, and the like? Also, any predictions for 2006? And we’d love to hear your New Year’s resolution.

Most of my life is spent catching up. In music during 2005, I discovered Ike Reilly’s Salesmen & Racists, though it came out in 2001, Ben Weaver’s 2004 release Stories Under Nails, and the wicked awesome soundtrack for a movie I’d love to see (didn’t manage it when it came to Boston, sadly) came out: Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus. There was new Nashville Pussy, Iron & Wine, the Black Keys. In literature, I spent time catching up as well, finishing reading my way through the singular fiction of Niall Griffiths, and the poetry of William Matthews, among many others I can’t recall. In 2006 I hope to finish this damned novel.

About the Author:

Rusty Barnes co-founded and oversees Night Train, a twice-yearly fiction journal.

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.