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Smoking With Alex Haber

Interview by Erin Fitzgerald (Read the Story) September 30, 2010

Alex Haber

Smoke Me! by Paula Iannuzzi

One quality of “Aeroplane” that I particularly enjoy is how the
objects work together to create a character out of the house itself.
Does setting usually have this level of importance to you?

I really like the interaction between character and surrounding.
The physicality of a situation — the way that someone sees or moves through a room, the way they touch an object — can say a lot more than someone’s first name or the color of their hair.

There are so many moments in the story that are filled with warning and defeat, and yet the characters seem to feel there is free will involved in what transpires. How did “Aeroplane” evolve as a story?
When I write, it is sentence by sentence. I had the opening image in my head, of the man and the girl in the woods, of the girl trying to look away and the man encouraging her to participate, but the rest of the story came along step by step, at the same pace the girl was moving. The pieces of the story were born in almost exactly the same place and order they appear in the final draft.

At the same time, the way the main character feels that the decision to stay or leave is entirely her own, even though in reality the situation she is in is a difficult one to escape from, and is getting more so with each move she makes, was something I wanted to portray without ever explicitly putting that thought process on the page.

In a genre where many writers rely on conciseness, “Aeroplane” has distinctly lyrical qualities. What leads you to the decisions you make about language in your work?
The breath and muscle of each line is something that absorbs me when I’m trying to write a story. More than plot, if a sentence can’t breathe on its own, it isn’t worth keeping. In this story, words bled out fiercely. I wanted every line to possess the same dangerous physicality of the girl’s situation.

The last time I was in Michigan, I was four years old. Where should I go if I visit again?
Northern Michigan’s got that surrounded-by-pine-trees-and-wind-chimes escapism feel to it, which can be nice. I just got back from the Sleeping Bear Dunes this weekend, which was kind of a lot of work for a little pay off, but Mackinac Island is fun for horses and biking 🙂

About the Author

Alex Haber is a fiction writer from Livonia, MI. He graduated in creative writing from Eastern Michigan University, and has recently been published in elimae and Cellar Roots.

About the Interviewer

Erin Fitzgerald is the author of the novella Valletta78 (Outpost19), and her stories have appeared in fine literary magazines such as Salt Hill, wigleaf, and matchbook. She is Online Editor at Barrelhouse, @gnomeloaf on Twitter, and everything else at http://erinfitzgerald.work.

About the Artist

Paula Iannuzzi on Instagram

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