Smoking With Vanessa Gebbie

Read the Story June 15, 2004

In addition to bones, stone and teeth are important images in this piece. Did you find it challenging to work with these images?

No! I collect stones everywhere I go. My windowsills and my garden are home to many stones picked up on my travels, collected just because I like them. I like their sense of age, of having seen a lot. Their shapes. What they feel like. That feeling was transposed onto the gravestones here, I think.

And teeth… the graveyard that inspired this is very ancient; the stones are at crazy angles, higgledy piggledy, like a mouth full of uneven teeth. The analogy was just right.

This is not a typical Father/Daughter moment. What inspired this piece?

“Bones” was inspired by a photograph I took of the old graveyard in Prague’s Jewish Quarter. Also, having my own children, I am very aware of the power children have to make us “see” things differently, if we are ready to “see”. In this case, I put my characters, a young girl, and her somewhat prejudiced father, in an emotive setting, and followed them to see what would happen.

What do you find challenging about writing? What do you enjoy most?

All of writing is challenging! If it wasn’t I wouldn’t want to do it. The most difficult thing for me, if that is the real question, is learning to stand back from a piece, learning to see where the mistakes are, and rewriting!

What do I enjoy most? Letting go completely and letting a character run with their own story. Getting so surprised by what a character does, that there is no point in working out a plot beforehand. I’m still learning… so this doesn’t happen enough. I also enjoy my studying writing in a fantastically stimulating, tough group, Alex Kegan’s Bootcamp.

What writing style/theme do you most enjoy working in?

My style hasn’t settled yet. I am trying all sorts of different things, and love having the support of Bootcamp, regular learning through critiquing the work of others, loads of feedback, but above all I love having the freedom to experiment. I settle most easily at the moment into a child’s voice, and enjoy trying to see the world through a child’s eyes. It looks different that way.

What would your creative outlet be if you were not able to write?

That’s easy. Sculpture. Organic shapes. I wish I’d met Barbara Hepworth.

About the Author:

Vanessa Gebbie lives in Sussex in the UK, and has been writing for two years. She is a member of Bootcamp Keegan, an online writing community. She writes articles on education for a provincial magazine, and had a short story short-listed for the Asham prize for new woman writers in 2003. She has had her first submission of a short story accepted by Buzzwords on Line. It will appear later in 2004. She says life began at fifty when she learned to ski. Downhill. On real snow.

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.