SmokeLong Quarterly

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Smoking With Dawn West

Interview by Tara Laskowski (Read the Story) September 30, 2010

Dawn West

Smoke Me! by Paula Iannuzzi

Man, I LOVE the energy in this story. It starts out strong and never slows down. I think at the end, the reader feels that need to take a breath as well. Did you write this all in one burst, or did it take several revisions to make it pop like it does?

Thank you! I’m so happy you enjoyed it. My stories are crazy little heathens. They come barreling out of me and make all kinds of noise. Sometimes I’ll come back after writing it, hate it, and immediately rewrite it. Sometimes I’ll trash it all except for a few lines and make something new. Dive wasn’t one of those cases. It just needed some polish. It felt whole.

If this story continued for a few more pages, what do you suspect would happen to the narrator and her relationship with her family? Is this a real crisis moment that changes things, or is it just an example of a pattern that repeats itself in her life?

Honestly, I have no clue. I do know that this was a real crisis moment for her. However, crisis moments don’t necessarily alter the projection of our lives. We can go back to doing the same shit. People are fond of relapsing.

Why do you like/need to write?

When I was six or seven, I was in this American Girls club (remember those mildly creepy dolls that had their own book series?). One day we had a little costume party; we had to dress up as “what you want to be when you grow up.” I chose Judy Blume. I carried around one of her books and told everyone “I write best-sellers.” Long story short: I need to write because I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life. I like to write fiction because stories can be a way of talking to people. Stories can be how we tell each other who we are, where we are, what we’re afraid of. They can be somewhere to go or the transportation there. Fiction can do anything you need it to.

In your bio, you say you’re a cheap date! I love that. Can you tell us what, for you, is the idea of a perfect date?

Thanks, Tara. I’m turned off by expensive dates. It’s totally wasteful and makes me suspect the person’s character. Same reason I hate expensive rings. For me, the perfect date costs less than fifty bucks. It should involve fancy beers and cheap vegetarian food.

In five years, what do you hope to be doing?

Writing all the time. Publishing things people like to buy. Being done with college. Feeling calm.

About the Author

Dawn West (b. 1987) is a cheap date who prefers dresses and lives in Ohio. Her work has or will appear in Camroc Press Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, Nanoism, Necessary Fiction, and others.

About the Interviewer

Tara Laskowski

Tara Laskowski has been editor at SmokeLong Quarterly since 2010. Her short story collection Bystanders was hailed by Jennifer Egan as “a bold, riveting mash-up of Hitchcockian suspense and campfire-tale chills.” She is also the author of Modern Manners For Your Inner Demons, tales of dark etiquette. Her fiction has been published in the Norton anthology Flash Fiction International, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Mid-American Review, and numerous other journals, magazines, and anthologies. Tara lives and works in a suburb of Washington, D.C.

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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