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Smoke & Mirrors with Lyndsie Manusos 

Interview by Hananah Zaheer (Read the Story) December 21, 2020

Lyndsie Manusos

Lyndsie Manusos

First of all, thank you for sharing this wonderful story with its beautiful language. In many ways, this feels like a story of grief, of calling for resurrection. Was this your intention? Can you talk about the genesis of this story? How did this idea come to you?

Absolutely. A story of grief and resurrection is pretty spot on. This is one of those stories that sort of spilled out. I wrote it earlier in the fall. It came out all at once, and then I played around with it, puzzling out the right repetition and order of paragraphs. It’s a response to the times as well as a response to some personal uncertainties I was going through.

How did you decide to structure the story as it is with physical space between paragraphs. Can you talk about this choice and what effect it creates?

I wanted to be able to show the passing of time in a flash fiction story and make sure each paragraph could stand on its own. I’m hoping it gives a little breathing room for the reader, especially since it’s an apocalyptic story.

The story uses wonderful repetitions of ideas and phrases throughout. Given that there is so much regeneration and birth here, can you talk about if that was an intentional echo and what it means to this piece?

You make me sound so much smarter than I am! But yeah, I really like having rhythm and repetition to my writing, especially when writing flash. I think utilizing repetition in flash can do multiple jobs in the effectiveness of a story. I also like to read my flash out loud, and when it feels right to read––when the repetition hits right and flows––I think/hope the piece is ready to go out into the world.

Was it challenging to write this in such a short space? How do you feel about writing flash generally?

It was surprisingly easier than a lot of other pieces I was/am working on. The first draft bled out on the page, and then I played with the rest of it. It was actually loads of fun to write, despite the heavy material. I wish more of my WIPs were like this one.

What is your favorite prehistoric animal besides woolly mammoths and why?

Ground sloth, hands down. A giant sloth, weighing thousands of pounds, that grazed and chilled out all day? Yes, please. That’s amazing.

About the Author

Lyndsie Manusos’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hobart, Passages North, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and other publications. She lives in Indianapolis with her family and writes for Book Riot and Publishers Weekly.

About the Interviewer

Hananah Zaheer

Hananah is a writer, editor, improvisor and photographer. She serves as a Fiction Editor for Los Angeles Review, and as senior editor for SAAG: a dissident literary anthology—a project that seeks to not only lay claim to revolutionary ideas and avant-garde traditions, but to make space for radical and experimental South Asian art and writing in the literary world. She is the founder of the Dubai Literary Salon, an international prose-reading series.

She is the author of Lovebirds (Bull City Press, 2021). Other writing has appeared or is forthcoming in places such as Kenyon Review, Best Small Fictions 2021, Waxwing, AGNI, Pithead Chapel, Smokelong (Pushcart nomination), Virginia Quarterly Review, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, South West Review, Alaska Quarterly Review (with a Notable Story mention in Best American Short Stories 2019) and Michigan Quarterly Review, where she won the Lawrence Foundation Prize for Fiction. She was awarded a Tennessee Williams Scholarship in Fiction at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference for 2019, was a finalist for the Smoke Long Fellowship 2019, the Doris Betts’ Fiction prize 2014 and a recipient of residencies and fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Rivendell Writers’ Colony and the Ragdale Foundation. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart prize.

You can find her at www.hananahzaheer.com or on Twitter @hananahzaheer

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