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Smoke & Mirrors: An Interview with Taryn Tilton

Interview by Matthew Dexter (Read the Story) December 17, 2018

Taryn Tilton

Taryn Tilton

Where did the idea for this story come from? Is there any semblance of creative nonfiction blended into this piece? Did anybody drape a snake across your shoulders without saying a word? Have you ever been in a tornado?

I have consented to every snake across my shoulders, and I have never been in a tornado, but I have been in tornado weather, and I have been in a relationship like this one. So the idea came from capturing how that feels.

Personification of vegetation seems integral to the visceral beauty and profundity of the piece. The rhubarb, poplar, and bulrushes are almost characters in and of themselves.

I don’t see the plants as personified; they are portents.

The specific relationship between the women is never mentioned. I imagine they’re sisters or stepsisters—but might be totally wrong. The ambiguity and mysteries leave me intrigued, curious, and contemplative after reading the last line. I suppose not knowing makes it more fascinating, as each reader can interpret things differently?

These dynamics are possible in any long-term relationship—whether that be between friends, sisters, lovers, or even business partners. The nature of the relationship did not strike me as central to understanding.

Do you have any writing routines, and do you think they’re conducive to creating art, or do you believe being able to improvise is beneficial to art? You have lived in Buenos Aires and Shanghai. Would you recommend living abroad as an expatriate?

I don’t have a set schedule, but I do ritualize my work, getting some boring things in order first (hair off my neck, two things to drink). I don’t recommend living abroad to anyone except those who want to do it.

About the Author

Taryn Tilton writes and translates. Her novella, Cherry Cherry, won the 2017 Plaza Literary Prize.

About the Interviewer

Matthew Dexter lives in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Like the nomadic Pericú natives before him, he survives on a hunter-gatherer subsistence diet of shrimp tacos, smoked marlin, cold beer, and warm sunshine.

This interview appeared in Issue Sixty-Two of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Sixty-Two
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SmokeLong Fitness--The Community Workshop

Next Date to Join: January 1!

On September 1, SmokeLong launched a workshop environment/community christened SmokeLong Fitness. This asynchronous community workshop is happening right now on our dedicated workshop site. If you choose to join us, you will work in a small group of around 10-12 participants to give and receive feedback. Each Monday, you will receive a new writing task (one writing task each week) designed by the senior editor team of SmokeLong. The core workshop is asynchronous, so you can take part from anywhere at anytime. We are excited about creating a supportive, consistent and structured environment for flash writers to work on their craft in a community.