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Smoke and Mirrors: An Interview with Maggie Su

Interview by Tara Laskowski (Read the Story) September 21, 2015

Maggie Su

Art by Katelin Kinney

It’s not looking too great for these two people in your story. Where are they both one year later, if you know? 

Ha, ha—no, it’s not looking good, is it? In a year, I don’t think they’re together. I wanted this story to focus on a breaking point in a relationship. I think it’s commonly expected for women to suppress their messiness, to take on passive roles in heteronormative relationships. I hope that in this scene you can see both her opening up and him closing down. He isn’t equipped to deal with this revelation and how it disrupts his fantasy of her and womanhood in general. But for her, it’s a moment of liberation.

Do you believe in aliens? Ever had an extraterrestrial experience? Or if not, what was the closest next-best-thing? 

I would never rule aliens out, but I have yet to experience extraterrestrial life first-hand. I think I find myself returning to the figure of the alien/monster again and again in my work because I’m fascinated by the methods in which people displace fear. Aliens are distinctly human creations—they’re vehicles to release the dark things we recognize in ourselves.

How do you like your MFA program? What’s been the best part so far? 

The best part is the people. Every day I get to hang out with and be inspired by a diverse cast of talented, weird, unbelievably kind artists. I feel very lucky. There are many different ways to go about being a writer in the world, but before the MFA, I’d never had this type of support system. These people are my family.

The details in this story are so spot-on. I love the chandelier, for example. Can you talk a little about your choices here? Were the details carefully chosen or did they just come out in the writing process?

Thank you! I’m a big believer in jumping down the rabbit hole. Sometimes during my free writing the connections between images are clear to me—they’re based on sound or some logical form of association—but sometimes they’re oblique. I try to harness this rawness as much as I can when I go back to revise.

What’s the hardest part about writing flash fiction for you? 


About the Author

Maggie Su currently attends Indiana University’s MFA program. Her work has appeared in Word Riot.

About the Interviewer

Tara Laskowski

Tara Laskowski has been editor at SmokeLong Quarterly since 2010. Her short story collection Bystanders was hailed by Jennifer Egan as “a bold, riveting mash-up of Hitchcockian suspense and campfire-tale chills.” She is also the author of Modern Manners For Your Inner Demons, tales of dark etiquette. Her fiction has been published in the Norton anthology Flash Fiction International, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Mid-American Review, and numerous other journals, magazines, and anthologies. Tara lives and works in a suburb of Washington, D.C.

About the Artist

Katelin Kinney is from the hills and fields of Southern Indiana. She attained two BFAs from the Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis, IN. Her portfolio consists of fine art and commercial freelance work.

This interview appeared in Issue Forty-Nine of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Forty-Nine

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