Smoking With Tristan Moss

Read the Story March 15, 2006
story art

How did the image of steps, feet, and dances emerge as the central figures in this piece?

I think most of us have experienced a person heading towards us on a pavement and tried, unsuccessfully, to avoid his or her path. The steps we make in this situation reminded me of a clumsy dance, which I felt worked well as a metaphor for getting to know someone and falling in love.

How can one know when a stranger on the pavement is, in truth, not a stranger at all?

The paradox of this story is that two people become strangers, over time, through being able to predict the subtleties of one another’s behaviour. However, they are not strangers in the same sense as when they first meet. In that sense, one knows clearly when another person is not a stranger. In the other sense, though, it’s not so easy.

How does one ensure, as you have, that—in such a precise piece— every word matters? How does one choose words that will not only carry the exact meaning that you desire, but will also create a rich, broadening sense of meaning?

If I have a good idea the appropriate words and sentence structures come into focus. However, when the idea isn’t up to scratch, I chop and change words far too much. Normally, this results in the piece being scrapped. The parameter I set myself for this story was to write it in three sentence—a beginning, middle and an end. I have about 50 ideas every month and only one or two of them become complete stories.

In your thirty-six years, what have you come to know about love?

That it comes and goes. Although this story is fiction, I drew on my own experience when writing the middle sentence. However, the final sentence, whichever way you interpret it, was imagined.

What’s life like in York—teaching English there to oh-so-eager students?

At present I am not teaching at a school. I am writing, renovating my house and giving private tuition in English for academic purposes. At the end of May, I take up a four-month post in London, teaching academic English at Kingston University.

About the Author:

Tristan Moss is 36 years old; he lives in York and teaches English there. He has recently been published in Mytholog