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Smoking With Chauna Craig

Interview by Beth Thomas (Read the Story) December 20, 2011

Chauna Craig

A Smoke Backstage by William Michael Harnett

I like how this is written — there is some deception here. Tell us about your unreliable narrator, and where this story idea came from.

I once worked at a university where there had been, before my time, a psychology professor who used to walk an invisible dog around campus. I only heard the story, but I remembered how in fourth grade a classmate had brought back from Disneyland a wire leash with attached collar. She would flick her wrist just right, and it looked like something was pulling on the leash. Those two images came together into a character, and then I started to ask the questions that led to the story. That’s when I realized the professor was only a secondary character and a catalyst and that the real story belonged to the woman trapped between fear and hope, past and future.

Do you have any writing habits? When & where do you do most of your writing?

I have all sorts of writing habits, most of them bad, as in not doing enough of it. But I’ve recently recommitted to writing thirty minutes a day, even on my busiest days, in order to stay in touch with my own work and my sense of myself as a writer.

What else are you working on now?

I’ve been working on a novel and on my flash fiction collection.

What have you read lately that you loved?

I recently re-read Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and was stunned all over again by what a deeply moral novel it is, how it tells such a big story of what it is to claim your humanity in a world that often makes you feel powerless.

About the Author

Chauna Craig’s flash fiction has appeared in Flash: The International Magazine of Short Short Fiction, Elsewhere Lit, SmokeLong Quarterly, the anthologies You Have Time For This and Best American Flash Fiction, and elsewhere. Her first short story collection, The Widow’s Guide to Edible Mushrooms, will be published by Queen’s Ferry Press in 2016.

About the Interviewer

Beth Thomas is originally from New Mexico but currently lives in California due to military relocation. She works as a technical writer in the aerospace/defense industry—don’t ask what she writes about ’cause she can’t really tell you. She has a BA and an MA in writerly things from New Mexico universities. Her work has recently appeared in Pindeldyboz Online, SmokeLong Quarterly, Juked, Word Riot, and other places.

About the Artist

William Michael Harnett (August 10, 1848–October 29, 1892) was an Irish-American painter known for his trompe-l’œil still lifes of ordinary objects.

This interview appeared in Issue Thirty-Four of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Thirty-Four

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