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Smoke & Mirrors with Allison Rae King 

Interview by Leigh Camacho Rourks (Read the Story) December 21, 2020

Allison Rae King

Allison Rae King

One of the things about this piece that brings me joy is the acrobatic language and the way you forefront sound. It is at once poetic and playful, hypnotic and sharp. Can you talk a little about writing with the ear in mind?

Thank you! With this particular story I wanted to infuse the prose with sounds of stomping and drumbeats. In my mind I had a fierce song that rattles your ribcage but soothes your soul, too. That’s how I envisioned the child in the story. She’s both fierce and tender, and I needed the word choices to reflect this. I also wanted the sentences to have a powerful rhythm that unapologetically pull you along from start to finish. I combined words that sounded good to my ear and hoped the sound and rhythm would be agreeable to readers.

I also can’t get over how lush with unexpected imagery “Savage Daughters” is, each sentence a wonderful surprise. It feels nearly transgressive, with a richness that pushes against old but still dominate trends of extreme restraint/realism.  What inspires your imagery (and the way you’re pushing against traditional expectations)?

This story was written for a workshop prompt (Kathryn Kulpa’s wonderful workshop The Art of Flash) where we had to make two lists: One list contained items from a specific time frame, while the other list contained concrete details from a specific place; and from those lists we had to write a flash story. These images are very much inspired by my own childhood. What I love about this story is it gave me a chance to transform familiar images into something new and unexpected. I wanted the details to flirt a bit with magical realism because childhood is such a magical time. The girl in the story is living what she believes to be a normal life but, upon closer inspection, there is much wonder, fascination, and mystery surrounding her.

This story reminds me of a fairy tale (in all the best ways), so I have to ask, do you have a favorite fairy tale (traditional or contemporary)?

It’s funny you should ask this. I’ve been playing around with fairy tales recently, reimagining them, seeing what new angles I can dream up. Fairy tales are quite scandalous, aren’t they? I love Goldilocks because of her curiosity and confidence. Growing up, I thought she was the epitome of sweetness, and the bears were the scary, mean villains. After growing older I realized how wrong I had been. Turns out Goldilocks was the one breaking and entering! She’s a character I’d love to see all grown up. I wonder if she turned her life around or went on to be a career criminal?

Do you have any advice for all of the writers struggling to write during the pandemic (or during any difficult time)? (Or are you yourself struggling to come to the page right now?)

With two kids at home doing online school during the pandemic, sticking to a writing schedule has definitely been a challenge. One thing that has worked for me is signing up for writing workshops when they’re in the budget. Knowing I’m being held accountable not just to myself but to a group of writers is good motivation. Plus, the instruction and prompts are always so inspiring. Another little piece of advice is to not discount small slots of available time as being not enough time to write. If all you have is ten minutes after lunch, then set a timer and write for those ten minutes.

If you could visit anywhere (once it is safe), where do you want to go? What do you want to see?

Hmm … this is a really tough question for me because there are so many places I want to go. At the top of my bucket list is either a tour of Europe or an exotic island getaway.

About the Author

Allison Rae King is a writer and freelance editor living in Florida. Her work can be found in Outlook Springs and The Tusculum Review. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family. Find her on twitter @AliSoleil98.

About the Interviewer

Leigh Camacho Rourks is a Cuban-American author living and teaching in South Louisiana. She is the recipient of the St. Lawrence Book Award, the Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award, and the Robert Watson Literary Review Prize, and her work has been shortlisted for several other awards. Her writing has appeared in a number of journals, including Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, TriQuarterly, December Magazine, and Greensboro Review. Her collection of short stories, Moon Trees and Other Orphans, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press (September 2019).

This interview appeared in Issue Seventy of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Seventy
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