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Smoke and Mirrors—An Interview with Kathryn Lipari

Interview by Shelly Weathers (Read the Story) June 22, 2015

Kathryn Lipari

Art by Ashley Inguanta

The story is a list, structurally, but a list with an arc. I’m a Libra. I can’t choose a pair of socks without an inner debate. How did you choose the list form when clearly you had options? And what story forms should fear you next?

Not sure that I did have other options: this piece grew out of a list prompt at my writing group. Driving home afterwards the title wrote itself in my mind and the rest just followed.

The sea shanty? I’m mostly a novelist. That said, this is really just a very, very short version of one of my manuscripts.

This story is effectively visceral. I checked my arms for cuts when I was done. Last night, I dreamt I burned myself. Did you experience a kind of tactile stigmata while writing it?

No, the opposite in fact—while I wrote this I felt scars disappearing.

As a writer, do you pack your stories in bags and carry them around with you for days? Do you swallow them whole and sprout them like a rogue alfalfa sprout? Do you shed them like a coat of peeling paint? Do you weep them like tears and swish the salt around for sounds? Or, do you jot them while eating lunch and texting, knowing you’re about to break us down?

All of the above. Some stories are fully formed before I put pen to paper; others, every single word is a battle.

If I’m your main character, you’ve just turned my bones into earrings, metaphorically speaking. How do I feel about you?

You’re afraid that I’m fucking with you: cradling you in my palm only to drop you again.

#12. Holy shit. Things done behind a cupped hand while the kids play at our feet. What secrets should parents take all the way to the grave?

There’s no way to keep a secret from your kids; even if they don’t ferret it out and feel compelled to keep it for you, they’ll be confused and ashamed by its long shadow.

About the Author

Kathryn Lipari writes and reads in Portland, OR. Her short fiction has appeared in journals including Typehouse Ink, Marathon Literary Review and Women’s Studies Quarterly, and is forthcoming in The Puritan and Hypertrophic Literary. A member of Full Frontal Writing Collective and smallsalon.com, Kathryn is currently pedaling a manuscript, Run Don’t Run, and working on another—as yet, untitled.

About the Interviewer

Shelly Weathers lives and teaches in the Southwest. Her short stories have appeared in Moon City, The Adroit Journal, Tahoma Literary Review, and elsewhere, and has received the John Steinbeck and Beacon Street prizes for fiction.

About the Artist

Ashley Inguanta is a writer, art photographer, installation artist, and holistic educator. Her work has most recently appeared in Atticus Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, and the anthology The Familiar Wild: On Dogs & Poetry. Her newest chapbook of poems, The Island, The Mountain, & The Nightblooming Field honors a human connection with the natural world.

This interview appeared in Issue Forty-Eight of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Forty-Eight
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A SmokeLong Summer

May 30-Aug 28!


From May 30 to August 28 2022, SmokeLong is going to host a superworkshop. We want to spend the summer with you, the flash community. Our workshops take place on a devoted website where you can create a profile, interact with the flash community, and take part in group discussions on craft, but A SmokeLong Summer will be much more.