Smoking with Sean Oakley

Read the Story December 15, 2003

How long have you been writing?

I’ve flirted with it since grade school, but rarely with any consistency or dedication. There was a period in college when I wrote a good deal, but that was probably more attributable to post-adolescent angst than any real drive to “be a writer.” It’s really only the last couple of years that I’ve taken it more seriously.

What finally made you decide to get your work out there?

I joined an on-line writing workshop a number of months ago. The encouragement and the example of the other writers in the group convinced me that maybe it wasn’t completely crazy to think I could get something published.

With three kids, how do you find time to write?

I write mostly late at night, after everyone’s asleep. Occasionally I’ll do some writing at work if things are slow (my boss isn’t going to read this, right?).

Do you have any books that are so important to you that you insist everyone else read them?

Something Happened by Joseph Heller. I’m awed by his ability to take the seemingly mundane internal life of such an average guy and turn it into a profoundly moving and deeply fascinating story. And the ending is absolutely devastating.

Pretty much anything by Philip Roth, although I loved Sabbath’s Theater in particular. The fearlessness of his writing is inspiring.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I love the way he plays, both with language and the structure of the novel itself.

What do you think of flash fiction versus other literary forms?

I love the idea of taking a moment or a feeling or an image and figuring out what’s really at its core – what it’s really about once you take all the extraneous stuff away. Flash, to me, is the perfect vehicle for describing that essential thing that you’re left with.

Will the Cubs ever make it to the World Series?

I’m still not ready to talk about it…

About the Author:

Sean Oakley lives in Wheaton, Illinois with his wife and three children. Between bursts of dubious literary inspiration he spends his time trying to figure out what to do about the stray cats that have inexplicably taken up residence in his basement.

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.