Smoking With Sue Powers

Read the Story March 15, 2008

Is this a “twisted” ending?

I don’t think of the ending as a twist, more as a revelation. The mother’s strong, flawed personality, and its effect, is very much a part of the brother’s story. For the reader to feel that effect, it had to come at the end, like a punch in the stomach.

Talk for a moment about intent in fiction. Is it critical for the reader to understand exactly what the writer is trying to convey? Or are the questions part of the answer?

I think intellect plays a small part in understanding a story. I believe in the best fiction, the reader experiences the story on a subconscious level first before it ever works its way up to the reader’s intellect – which is not unlike the way many stories are written. Which is to say, I believe everything important about a story is first and foremost understood intuitively. So the first reaction of the reader may be to come away with a ‘wow’ but be at a loss to say why.

“Brother” was previously published in Happy in 1996. How does it feel to have this story resurrected?

I’m delighted, and also truly honored to have a story selected by the Fellowship. But interesting you use the word ‘resurrected’ as if buried and gone. As I get older, I find a year like 1996 feels practically like yesterday!

You have two Pushcart Prize nominations. From which publications did you receive them?

The first story was nominated by Bluff City, a small literary magazine out of Elgin, Illinois, which I believe is no longer in existence. The second story, ‘Like Nourishment,’ of which ‘Brother’ was a part, was nominated by Happy.

Congratulations on placing in the Kathy Fish Fellowship contest! Will you share a bit about your experience in applying for the fellowship? Preparing the goal statement, selecting the stories, the wait, etc.?

Well the whole process was quite straightforward, making it truly an easy and painless experience, and the turnaround time was quite painless too. Much appreciated, I might add. Also, submitting online is one of the best things to happen for a writer. The most difficult part was the simple act of selecting the stories themselves, mainly because I think I tend to second guess myself to a fault.

About the Author:

Sue Powers' stories have appeared in numerous zines and publications such as StoryQuarterly, Another Chicago Magazine, SWELL, Happy, Facets, Samizdada, and elsewhere. She is a recipient an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship and an IAC Grant. If she did not (have to) work her day job, she would spend her time reading, writing stories, and learning the art of jewelry-making.