SmokeLong Quarterly

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Smoke & Mirrors: An Interview with Gary Moshimer

Interview by Ron A. Austin (Read the Story) September 17, 2018

Gary Moshimer

Photograph by Velizar Ivanov

What are the risks and rewards of using dark humor about difficult or painful circumstances to drive a story?

I don’t think much of the risks. I think a reader must be thrown right in there where they want to cry, but then find out they’ve been tricked into some humor, or the other way around. Those juxtaposed feelings are the great reward.

In a very short span of life on the page, Sweetie transforms from a quirky love interest to a sex idol to goddess who represents safety and connection to humanity. Was her growth over the story intentional or organic? How do you flesh out your secondary characters?

I didn’t think too much about it, so I guess you could call it organic. Once she starts reading about existentialism, she’s evolved into a new person.

The sentences in “Sweetness” are very clear, clean, and rhythmic, smoothly balancing style, aesthetic, and narrative movement. What’s your revision process like? How do you develop sentences that move so well?

I keep cutting sentences until there’s a rhythm when you read them out loud. That’s my key, reading out loud. Plus, it’s damn fun to write like that.

Share a line (or two or three) from a writer you admire and describe how these lines exemplify the writer’s influence on your work and on literature at large.

“Only that which does not explain or instruct is irresistible.”—Maeve Brennan.

What are your current projects? What’s next in your artistic life?

I’m currently working on a book of flash fictions.

About the Author

Gary Moshimer has stories at [Pank], Word Riot, Necessary Fiction, FRiGG, Eclectica Magazine, and many other places.

About the Interviewer

Ron A. Austin’s short stories have been placed in Boulevard, Pleiades, Story Quarterly, Ninth Letter, Black Warrior Review, and other journals. Avery Colt Is a Snake, a Thief, a Liar, his first collection of linked stories, has received several honors including: The 2017 Nilsen Prize, a 2019 Foreward INDIES GOLD Award, a 2020 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award, a 2020 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize nomination, and a 2020 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award nomination. Austin’s work has been supported by grants from the Regional Arts Commission, including a 2016 Artist Fellowship. He, his wife, Jennie, and son, Elijah, live in St. Louis. As an assistant professor of English at St. Louis University, he facilitates undergraduate fiction workshops.

About the Artist

Find more photography by Velizar Ivanov at Unsplash.

This interview appeared in Issue Sixty-One of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Sixty-One

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